Passing and Turning for Bike Lanes

Bike Lane MarkingWould you write an article on bike lanes? Please explain whether a bike in a bike lane can pass on the right of a car and the proper way for cars to turn right through a bike lane.

A bike lane is a special use lane marked on the highway like any other lane, the difference being that motor vehicles must generally stay out of it. The exception occurs at intersections where it is necessary to turn right and the line between the lanes has changed from solid to broken. In this case, the driver must do a proper lane change over the segment with the broken line prior to turning and must not affect the travel of cyclists using the bike lane.

Otherwise, if there is no broken line, the driver must remain in the right most vehicle lane prior to turning and yield to any bike traffic before turning right and crossing over the bike lane.

Bicycles using the bike lane may pass with caution on the right of traffic in the lane to their left. This is because they are in a multiple lane situation where there is an unobstructed lane on the right of overtaken traffic that the cyclist is permitted to use. The requirement to pass with caution does place an onus on the cyclist to expect something other than unconditional right of way when passing.

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Submitted by E-mail

I find bike riders very frustrating.  They like to impose their right of way yet seem to have no sense of responsibility when it comes to rules of the road.  I often see them skipping through a red light.

bike riders are frustrating

I share your frustration . . . and I'm a cyclist!

I hate seeing careless cyclists ride on sidewalks, along the wrong side of the street, and riding across pedestrian crosswalks.  (They seem to be completely unaware of the risk they're creating for themselves.)  I also object to motorists stopping for those cyclists at crosswalks to let them cross - unless they're walking their bikes, or they're already cutting you off by blithely crossing the street, don't give them the right of way!

Cyclists need to behave in a predictable fashion.  This requires follow vehicular rules, signalling, stopping, etc.  Education seems to be the only reasonable answer here, since it's certainly not a high priority for traffic enforcement!  Also, if more cyclists rode properly in traffic, e.g. actually used left turn lanes, motorists would become more comfortable with seeing them there.

There is one area where I'd give some latitude, and that is stopping at stop signs at quiet intersections.  The majority of these signs could reasonably and safely be replaced with yield signs to begin with, and repeatedly unclipping from the pedals and getting back into them can be a nuisance.

Submitted by E-mail

I'm not entirely pleased with your statements in this post.  Many Designated Use Lanes (e.g. HOV lanes) have solid white lines, and this in no way precludes changing to or from them, despite the fact that nobody has bothered updating the stale BC MVA to reflect this decades-old precedent, so clearly solid-lined Designated Use Lanes are not intended to invoke 151(b).

Correspondingly, the solid white line of a bike lane does not in any way make it illegal (in spite of the letter of the law) for me to change lanes OUT of a bike lane, and clearly applies exactly the same way to changes INTO the bike lane.  It follows
that the broken bike lane segments at intersections are merely a suggestion as to what should be happening there.

Further, despite the fact that some people assume that all bikes travel at less than 20km/h, the dashed portion of the bike lane line is typically around 10m, which is absolutely nowhere near long enough for a safe lane change to be followed by slowing down to take the right turn—would you change from another lane into the right-hand vehicle lane 10m before an intersection to make a right turn? I'd think not.  

Even further, this idea that you suggest of NOT turning right pursuant to 165(1) just because the line is unbroken ignores the benefit of what is prescribed under 165(1), which is that one no longer needs to watch for traffic behind and to one's right and can therefore pay attention to important things like oncoming and cross traffic, pedestrians crossing at the intersection, etc.

The bottom line I'm leading to here is that motorists should be encouraged to ALWAYS merge safely into the bike lane prior to turning (and usually do so before the extremely short portions of broken line), as your logic justifying not doing so when the line is unbroken is faulty, again in spite of the MVA not reflecting common, decades-old road marking practices.


OK, I've stopped shaking my head and am ready to respond, hopefully in a civil manner.

For your first paragraph, designated use lanes, yes a solid white line means you must not change out of or into the lane when it is present. How did you decide that the solid white line has no effect here?

Are you a motor vehicle driver or a cyclist for your second paragraph? For starters, cyclists must follow all of the same rules as motor vehicle drivers. This means that they are bound to follow the rules for crossing or not crossing lines. If you are a motor vehicle driver, you may only cross the solid line delineating a cycle lane in specific circumstances, and the broken line segments are not a suggestion. You must treat them as required by the Motor Vehicle Act.

Proper thought and preparation puts paid to paragraph 3. There is absolutely no reason that you cannot see, anticipate and plan for the cyclist on the highway beside you. If the area of broken line is not sufficient to slow for your turn, then you must start to slow before you get there. You have signal lights to advise following traffic about this.

Moving on to paragraph 4, there is no way that section 165 relieves you of the burden of paying attention to traffic behind you. It requires that you move as closely as practicable to the right. This is not as close as possible to the right. If there is a solid line on the right and you are to the right but not over it, then you are as close as practicable.

My logic comes from explaining what the Motor Vehicle Act requires of road users. Yours appears to be contradictory in the final paragraph. Like it or not, the Motor Vehicle Act is the rulebook that you will be judged by whether it is during an ICBC driver exam, by traffic enforcement officials or the courts.

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