Q&A - Yielding to Cyclists Overtaking on the Right

painted cycle laneYour recent bicycle column stirred me to ask a question.

I was in Kelowna, traveling north on Harvey Ave, and wanting to turn right into the strip mall where Jsyk and the new Big and Tall are located (among many others). I was in the HOV lane, and had to wait while 3 pedestrians on the sidewalk slowly crossed in front of my path. When they were clear, I made my turn, then to be hurled a number of expletives from a cyclist that was intending to pass me on the right but had to stop quickly.

I recall him saying “don’t I ever look behind me for bicycles”. I likely would, if I had just overtaken a bicycle, and would realize I might cause some grief if I suddenly cut him off. However, I had been waiting and was unaware of the cyclist attempting to pass by.

There is no cycling path marked in this area and I understand Harvey Ave is not a bicycle route. Do bicycles have free rein to pass on the right at will? If a bike lane was painted, would this change their rights to pass on the right? As cars do not have the right to pass on the right, do cyclists not have to follow the rules of the road as well? Bottom line-was I at fault here?


Who Yields to Whom

The first comment that I am going to make is that on a driver's test, if you don't check your right side mirror and make a right shoulder check before you moved once the pedestrians were clear, you would have been marked for it by the examiner. This is a must do to determine if something is going to come up on your right and pass, such as this cyclist, a motorcycle or the driver of a smaller vehicle.

Our cyclist is forced to ride on the shoulder here (between the solid white line and the edge of the pavement) unless it is unsafe to do so:

183(2) A person operating a cycle

(c) must, subject to paragraph (a), ride as near as practicable to the right side of the highway,

When you were sitting there waiting to turn right, the cyclist would be passing you on the right. This is governed by:

158 (1) The driver of a vehicle must not cause or permit the vehicle to overtake and pass on the right of another vehicle, except

(a) when the vehicle overtaken is making a left turn or its driver has signalled his or her intention to make a left turn,

(b) when on a laned roadway there is one or more than one unobstructed lane on the side of the roadway on which the driver is permitted to drive, or

(c) on a one way street or a highway on which traffic is restricted to one direction of movement, where the roadway is free from obstructions and is of sufficient width for 2 or more lanes of moving vehicles.

(2) Despite subsection (1), a driver of a vehicle must not cause the vehicle to overtake and pass another vehicle on the right

(a) when the movement cannot be made safely, or

(b) by driving the vehicle off the roadway.

The cyclist may pass on the right because he does have what amounts to an unobstructed lane on the shoulder. However, with you sitting there showing a right turn signal I would suggest that the movement cannot be made in safety due to the possibility of you not seeing him and encroaching on the lane.

Finally, I would contemplate charging you for failing to consider the cyclist:

144 (1) A person must not drive a motor vehicle on a highway

(b) without reasonable consideration for other persons using the highway, or...

So, in this situation, it really comes down to both of you making sure that it was safe to proceed, not one over the other.

If it were a marked cycling lane instead of the shoulder, you would likely see a broken white line separating it from the other lane(s).

Now the onus is squarely on you to stay out of the cyclist's way:

151 A driver who is driving a vehicle on a laned roadway

(a) must not drive it from one lane to another when a broken line only exists between the lanes, unless the driver has ascertained that movement can be made with safety and will in no way affect the travel of another vehicle,

There's No Shoulder...

You present much of your comment on an initial assumption of an open shoulder and a white line with a paved strip between the line and the shoulder. Such is not the case as the lane is edged by curb and gutter with a sidewalk behind the curb. There is no white line and strip of pavement for a cyclist to occupy. The cyclist only has the same lane to use as I did. I did not think cars were allowed to pass on the right and also that bicycles had to follow the rules of the road. Are you telling me that cycles have the right of way simply because they can marginally fit between the curbing and a vehicle?

I Do My Best...

...with the information that you supply.

In this case, you need to read the article explaining Passing on the Right. The cyclist would have to follow this rule.

You did your best ...

... but don't forget Section 169.

If a motorist has stopped a vehicle, the onus is on that motorist to ensure that it's safe before moving it again. This motorist didn't do so.

Cyclist's Need To Get Tuned In!

First off the cyclist on the sidewalk are contravening the Motor Vehicle Act. Secondly, cyclists, or anyone else, are not to pass on the right. As long as you were using your signal light, none of these moron's should have delayed you. As an avid cyclist, who would have given you the right away, or passed on the left as the MVA states, I think it is high time that cyclists need to earn their licenses by demonstrating accumen and be accountable to enforcement for the many flagrant violations that many are typically guilty of, including those you experienced here as well as not wearing helmuts, not signalling, not coming to complete stops, improper lane usage, wearing headphones, etc. 

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