Q&A - Motorcycle HOV Lane Use

motorcycleI'm kind of in a dilemma here. I understand how HOV lanes work and that motorcycles are exempt for the 2 person or more rule. My issue is with the ones in towns rather than the highways. Some of the lanes are marked only with a bicycle (which i get are for them only), but most are marked with a bicycle AND a diamond.

I've talked to many people but can't seem to get a straight answer if motorcycles are allowed to use these lanes.

Some motorcyclists say you can and they do, others don't know, some police said you can't, yet i have rode my motorcycle in the lanes when traffic was at a stand still and passed police whom have done nothing more than smile and wave at me.

Whenever i do use them it's only because traffic has stopped and i stay below 20km/h.

I'm just confused as to why i wouldn't be allowed to use these lanes considering they are marked with the HOV symbol.

Thank you for your time, and if you would also  be able to send me a link to a legal website stating motorcycles can in fact be in these lanes, it would be greatly appreciated.



A quick search of this site using "hov lane motorcycle" currently turns up two articles with links to the applicable laws on this subject:

One thing that might be causing some confusion is the diamond symbol itself. The diamond indicates that the lane is a special reserved lane and the other symbols on the sign tell you what the lane is reserved for. The Manual of Standard Traffic Signs and Pavement Markings for BC on page 2.39 speaks about reserved lanes but does not show examples of the signs referred to. You will find them in the Standard Traffic Signs Graphic Index.

A sign showing the diamond and a bus symbol, for instance, is not an HOV lane, it is a bus only lane and motorcyclists choosing to use the lane risk being ticketed for doing so.


Willingdon "Vanpool" clarification

So here's an interesting question then...  Willingdon has an HOV (Vanpool lane) that specifically restricts its use to Busses and vanpool.   The signs, however, explicitly state "Motorcycles OK":

(Sorry about the blurry photo - taken from Google Maps, just south of Brentwood Mall)


However, at every intersection, the following sign exists:

(Found at Willingdon / Dawson - Soutbound.   These signs do exist at each intersection, though, where the HOV lane is in effect)


The sign doesn't explicitly permit Vanpool and Motorcycles to continue through.   This doesn't make sense to me, as the lane is indeed intended to be an HOV lane, yet the signage appears to force HOV drivers to turn off just as a non-qualified driver should.  


Is this an oversight or just poor signage?


Strictly speaking, your first sign is not an HOV lane sign, it's a reserved route sign that specifies it's OK for vanpools and motorcycles to use. If it were for HOV's, it would have a car icon with 3 heads shown in it.

Your second sign is advice to drivers that at the intersection ahead vehicles in this lane must turn right unless they are buses or bikes. Depending on the size of the vanpool vehicle, ("bus" means a motor vehicle designed to carry more than 10 persons;) it may qualify as a bus

Sorry - I guess I should have

Sorry - I guess I should have been a little more clear in my question.

At the outset, you have a lane that permits busses, bikes, motorcycles, and vanpool.   I just used the term HOV to be lazy, but let's just refer to it as the restricted-use lane.


The restricted-use lane permits a class of vehicles to drive in it.   Every block, there's a right-hand turn.   The restricted-use lane forces every vehicle to turn right, except for busses and bikes.  This includes vehicles that would otherwise be permitted to drive in that restricted-use lane (vans).   There are other signs along that same stretch (the "restrictions" are not clear) that indicate "vanpool" is 6+ passengers.   That definition is far more evident in the other direction (northbound) as the signage rather consistently states "Vanpool 6+" , but it does exist southbound as well.   The southbound signage isn't consistent.   I'd gladly send you screenshots of Google Maps for each sign, but I'm afraid that would make this a rather photo-heavy post.   Feel free to take a virtual drive down Willingdon southbound from Lougheed through to Sanderson.   I believe at that point it actually does become a bus-only lane.

So the question is - why tell me, as a motorcyclist, that i'm explicitly permitted to drive in that lane, and then force me to make a right-hand turn?   Why tell a vanpool operator he/she can drive in that lane to just force him to turn right at the next intersection?   Why not just call it a bus lane and outright restrict the operation of other vehicle types in that lane, save for right-hand turns?

If you don't have the answer, that's okay.   I've been meaning to call the city and ask - I was just hoping you might have some clarification or perhaps have easier access to somebody who might actually know the intent of that lane.   I do recall reading some official writings from the city acknowledging the signage is indeed confusing and that they did have some plans to put up clearer signage.... but said communique did not actually answer the undying question of "What is the real intent of those lanes?"


Tell Me Too!

I'm never surprised that the intent of the signage doesn't match the intent of the driver or the intent of the engineer who caused them to be put up. I recall once where I decided to do enforcement at a high collision intersection, so I stood at one curb and wrote warnings to all the left turning drivers who disobeyed the must go straight through arrow painted on the lane preceeding the intersection. Well, 30 minutes later the S/Sgt. was dragging me into his office asking me what the heck I thought I was doing because people were complaining. He wasn't at all happy when I told him that's what the markings required and I was doing my job. I was told to do it elsewhere. So, it was clear to me then that what you are supposed to do and what the world wanted were two different things.

You've really answered your own question I guess, call the engineering department and ask. You may even find that they changes the signs!

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