Crossing Highway Lines to Park

Left Turn Over Double Solid LineAn Osoyoos resident has asked about parking in the downtown area. There is angle parking on both sides of the main street, and the street is marked with a double solid yellow line down the centre. He is concerned about vehicles crossing highway lines to park on the left side of the street.

crossing highway lines to park in Osoyoos

Crossing Highway Lines

When a highway is marked with a line of any type between lanes, single or double, yellow or white, broken or solid, traffic must keep to the right of it. So how does a driver properly go to the left side of a line?

Double Solid Yellow Lines

In the case of a double solid line there is only one exception, and that is when entering or leaving the highway.

Single Solid or Broken Lines

In the case of a single solid or single broken line, a driver may cross over to enter or leave the highway, to pass another vehicle, or to avoid an obstacle on the highway.

Solid and Broken Lines

Finally, there is the case of a combination of solid and broken lines. These may be crossed to enter and leave the highway and to avoid an obstacle on the highway. They may also be crossed to start passing when the broken line is on the right side, and to complete a pass when the broken line is on the left side.

Entering or Exiting the Highway

When entering or leaving the highway across lines, a driver must do so safely and not unreasonably affect the travel of another vehicle. When crossing lines to pass or to avoid obstacles a driver must do so in safety and must not affect the travel of another vehicle in any way.

Since taking a parking space on the left side of the highway marked with lines is not leaving or entering, avoiding an obstacle, or passing another vehicle, the move is illegal and could result in the driver being ticketed.

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So how does this work when parallel parking next to a bike lane?

Bike lanes are marked with a single solid white line on either side of the lane.  Just like double-yellow lines, single solid lines may not be crossed unless entering/leaving the highway.  You indicate that parking does not constitute leaving a highway, so it would seem to me to be a contravention to parallel park next to a bike lane.

Thoughts?  Thank you.

Could you share a location that would illustrate this so that I can go and have a look on Google Street View?

Take a look on Google Earth at the 900 block West 1st Street in North Vancouver, I think that would be a good example, both sides of the road.  (The centre of that road also appears to have the double-left turn lane incorrectly marked.)


Here is a Google Street View of Fort Street in Victoria:

As you can see, the lines marking the bike lane are broken in front of the bus stop, presumably to make it legal for the bus to enter and leave the roadway. However immediately after the lines marking the bike lane become solid where the parking spots are.

... but I'm intrigued to see that Bus Zone on Fort Street has a red-painted curb.

That's a device far more frequently seen in the US, indicating No Stopping / No Parking

(yeah OK it's hard to park without stopping eh?).  I wonder if there is actually a Municipal, Provincial, Or Federal law in Canada to cover this?  I've always thought it was an intelligent use of paint to show drivers how to avoid parking too close to fire hydrants, or alley-ways, or crosswalks, etc.

Parking prohibited at yellow curb

18.01  Except where a bylaw of a municipality provides otherwise, a traffic control device consisting of a curb painted yellow instructs every driver of a vehicle that no person shall stop, park or leave standing any motor vehicle attended or unattended, except where necessary to avoid conflict with other traffic or in compliance with the direction of a peace officer.

Welcome Osoyoos, as we here in Rossland who do not have a police force stationed here have drivers crossing the double solid line to park and yes even back out and across these double solid lines to go in the other direction. With this situation you have to be real carefull backing out from a parking stall as you may have someone crossing the double solid line to pull into the parking stall to your left. You see the main street of Rossland (Columbia Ave.) is also Highway 3B with a double solid line  that covers three blocks through town.

There is two intersections in which u-turns are legal because of a municipal by-law, of which some RCMP officiers are not aware of and have ticketed drivers for illegal u-turns at these intersections. One is at the intersection of the Post Office and the other is at the intesection at City Hall.

Two years ago I talked to the Sgt. in head of the Trail RCMP detachment and because Rossland do not have a police department and there are not many accidents with drivers doin these u-turns it is not a priority to patrol this street or highway. His explaination to me was that,  also with legal u-turns at three areas within a four blocks  such as the ones I mentioned and another just a short distance off the main street at the court house there was probably less accidents with people crossing the double line illegally than there would be at a busy intersection with traffic approaching from four directions. That might make sense to some, but it is still illegal to cross a double solid line is it not, no matter what the Sgt. said.

Another thing signal lights, what are they, with so many drivers not using them you might think it cost money to power them up.

... when it comes to reversing, there is very little that's specifically illegal under the Motor Vehicle Act, so long as you avoid crosswalks and intersections.

It's all covered under Section 193.  But that section is sufficient to pretty much ensure that if you're reversing, and involved in any sort of collision, then it's your fault.  An ICBC Claims Adjuster once told me that while 50/50 assignment of blame is rare, this will usually be their judgment when there's an incident where two vehicles in a parking lot back into each other.

That might make sense to some, but it is still illegal to cross a double solid line is it not.

Nope.  It is not necessarily illegal.  Please read Section 156 (then 151 & 155).  Then figure out what is reasonable!


Hi there,

Just wondering if you had any thoughts on the streetview link I posted showing the parking stalls on the other side of the bike lane bounded by two solid white lines.  Thanks. 

I'm still working on this and traded e-mail with ICBC yesterday to see how much of our discussion they will agree to publish. Hopefully I will have something today on that.

I asked ICBC if a driver would be penalized if they parked by crossing over the bike lane defined by solid white lines. They responded to my query as follows:

In the scenario referenced in the attached email, crossing over the painted line to park (pull to the side of the road) would be acceptable.  Our guide states:

“…sometimes you will need to cross a bicycle lane to turn right, or to pull to the side of the road…”

We would not consider pulling over to park, as driving, stopping or parking in a bike lane (the actual park is being performed in a lane designated for parking.)

This would be the defense for not marking it on a road test. However, as far as the road tests go, we would likely recommend that an area such as this not be used as a spot to perform vehicle handling maneuvers (parking), if it was creating confusion.  We are not looking to trick, or confuse examinees.

Anywhere else during the driving portion of a road test, unnecessarily crossing over any solid white line with one to four tires (such as the pavement markings for bike lanes) would be considered a mark. (ie: examinee wanders over line due to poor steering, or has poor positioning of the vehicle within their lane).

For reference:

From our guide. Pg. 53   Bicycle lanes are reserved for cyclists. Sometimes you will need to cross a bicycle lane to turn right, or to pull to the side of theroad. Take extra care when you do this. The rules for bicycle lanes are:

  • don’t drive, stop or park in a bicycle lane.
  • you may only cross a bicycle lane if the white line is broken or to turn into or out of a driveway.

As far as our manual goes, we may want to add to the last bullet above, “you may only cross a bicycle lane if the white line is broken or to turn into or out of a driveway, or enter/exit the roadway from a designated parking lane.

I have highlighted what I understand to be the difficulty with the answer. They speak of roadway and the Motor Vehicle Act speaks of highway. These are two very different things. Moving to the parked position at the curb may be leaving the roadway, but it is not leaving the highway, which is what is required to invoke the MVA exemption.

I replied to them with this and 10 days have passed without a response.

Aargh - I had a big reply typed out, tried to insert a link and the pop-up wouldn't go away so I had to close the page.

Anyway, thanks for doing the follow up on that for me.  Looks like they managed to come up with a hundred words to say nothing.  I'm not too concerned about what their learn-to-drive book says, I'm more concerned with the MVA.

Now crossing a solid white line is something that's rarely likely to result in a ticket.  That combined with poor lane marking practices such as the bike lanes next to parking spaces creates a situation where drivers assume it's safe and legal to cross solid white lines. 

I'm becoming increasingly paranoid about a driver cutting out of a left turn lane across a solid white line in front of me. 

Poor markings don't stop there though.  We have a new shopping center in Saanich with a bus lane running next to it.  It's clearly marked with a diamond, overhead signs and bound by solid white lines.  Just prior to the intersection leading to the underground parking, there are a few sections of broken lines where drivers are permitted to cross over from the through-lane to the turn lane and into the underground parking. 

Try making this turn legally and you'll be severely honked at or end up in a crash.  Most drivers enter the bus lane at the start of the block instead of waiting to the broken line to cross it.  Because the practice is never targeted for enforcement, drivers continue to do it.  It doesn't help that they need to do it in other locations due to poor lane marking practices.

I'll look in the site error log and see if I can find a reason for it not working properly. I've not had an issue like that reported before. Not to say that it hasn't happened of course, just that no one had complained.

I followed up with @TranBC yesterday, (they had missed my first request I guess as they are usually quick to reply) and received two Ministry employees to inquire with. I sent them a message too, so we'll see what the Ministry's response might be.

I traded some very interesting e-mails with a traffic engineer from the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure.

The first thing he did was assure me that the MOTI did not mark bicycle lanes, they are a creation of the municipalities and are controlled by their traffic bylaws (which must not be inconsistent with the Motor Vehicle Act). He said that "On occasion we do use bike sharrows and bike symbols on our shoulder to encourage cyclist, but never use diamond symbols which generally defines an exclusive bike lane in municipalities."

He had a clearer grasp of the MVA provisions on this than I did, starting with:

"laned roadway" means a roadway or the part of a roadway that is divided into 2 or more marked lanes for the movement of vehicular traffic in the same direction;

"vehicle" means a device in, on or by which a person or thing is or may be transported or drawn on a highway, but does not include a device designed to be moved by human power, a device used exclusively on stationary rails or tracks, mobile equipment or a motor assisted cycle;

So, a bicycle not being a vehicle, and laned roadway being a term confined to vehicles, a bicycle lane is not part of laned roadway and the solid lines marking them are not solid lines that a driver cannot cross under the terms of section 151 MVA.

I did do a search of case law and was unable to find an instance where the courts decided what a bicycle lane meant and how drivers and cyclists were supposed to behave in that regard.

I also looked at one city's traffic bylaw and found very little in it that set out what drivers must do.

In short, it appears that bicycle lanes are not currently well defined in law and we will likely see that change over time as crashes are litigated.

Well done, you've very clearly gotten to the bottom of this somewhat convoluted issue.

So, a bicycle not being a vehicle, and laned roadway being a term confined to vehicles, a bicycle lane is not part of laned roadway and the solid lines marking them are not solid lines that a driver cannot cross under the terms of section 151 MVA.

That's the essential, right there.  And I'm pleased to see it, because sometimes those municipal engineers break the solid bike lane lines into dotted ones far too close to the intersection, so that 'obeying' them causes the driver to move over too late, and at an angle where the right hand mirror is not very effective.  It's been my habit for some time to move over earlier, parallel to the curb, and on occasion to deliberately block a cyclist from undertaking me when I need to turn right; so good to know that the law, however inadvertently, supports me on this.

In all of your research, what did you discover (or not) about the significance of green paint being used to define a bike lane, area, whatever?

Most people think that the painted stop line is the spot to stop when facing a red light at an intersection.

Red light

129  (1) Subject to subsection (2), when a red light alone is exhibited at an intersection by a traffic control signal, the driver of a vehicle approaching the intersection and facing the red light must cause it to stop before entering the marked crosswalk on the near side of the intersection, or if there is no marked crosswalk, before entering the intersection, and subject to the provisions of subsection (3), must not cause the vehicle to proceed until a traffic control signal instructs the driver that he or she is permitted to do so.

There is no mention of the stop line here at all, just the crosswalk or the intersection itself. So, is placing a stop line back from the crosswalk or intersection to create the bike box simply a guideline? If the municipal traffic bylaw requires stopping at the stop line, is that "inconsistent with the Motor Vehicle Act?" I'll have to do some scanning of some bylaws to see what I can find.

The Transportation Association of Canada produces written guidelines for these markings. What they actually mean in law is up to the province. Here in BC, that would be the Motor Vehicle Act and I know from experience that it is update, if at all, in fits and starts. I'd love to have a copy of the guidelines, but I don't have $500+ to spend to get one. I can't find it on line.

Another task!