Right Turns Over Cycle Lanes

Cycle Lane MarkingIt seems appropriate to write an article on cycling as we are in the middle of May 27 to 31, 2013 which is Bike to Work Week. A conversation that I had this week highlights a dangerous situation that is well worth discussing, vehicles making right turns across cycle lanes. Drivers may not understand the duties required of them by the lines painted on the roadway.

In the situation described in the forum, the bicycle lane is marked with a single solid white line right up to the intersection. This requires drivers to approach the intersection for a right turn remaining to the left of the bicycle lane at all times. The turn is initiated after entering the intersection and making sure that no cyclists are affected.

Beware! Cyclists in the bicycle lane have lawful authority to pass by on the right of an overtaken or waiting vehicle because there is a clear lane on the right of the vehicle for the cyclist to use. The use of mirrors and shoulder checks by the motorist cannot be emphasized enough in this situation!

Where there is a broken line marking the cycle lane at the approach to the intersection the driver may move over to the curb into the cycle lane prior to making the right turn in the way that most people are used to. Drivers doing so are making a lane change and must yield to cycle traffic in the bicycle lane before moving over! In this situation, the cyclist must wait behind the vehicle until after the turn is made to clear the cycle lane.

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My opinion, being a moderate cyclist and a constant driver, is that bikes and cars do not mix.  On my bike, I do not feel safe in heavy traffic.  I'm not always sure of what the rule is and loads of drivers around me clearly don't watch for bikes.

roads are for vehicles.  Not long boarders, bikes, scooters etc.  There's far too much to navigate around without bikes coming up on your side.  If bikes are on the roads, they need to stay behind the vehicle always. 

That poor, unfortunate woman who lost her life on Lions Gate Bridge is a good example.  So sad.  Separate bike lanes, with proper barriers with NO pedestrians allowed are the only way to go. 

My experience, with this right turning over a bike lane is that both cyclists and drivers are not aware of the rules.  We've put the bike lanes in without any real education to the public prior. 

This happens all too often.

This happens all too often. Cyclists are cut off because of impatient drivers. They will zip up past you in their lane and then make a right turn; causing the cyclist to hammer on their brakes in hopes that they don't collide with the offending car.

Drivers, please slow down and let the cyclists in their lane. I've started riding to work a few days here and there and Yes I don't feel safe like I use to. Even though I'm behind that white line or just riding beside the curb I still feel vulnerable.

All you can do is be visable! Lights, reflective gear and a helmet. Ride safe everyone!


Submitted by E-mail

As a cyclist and , and due to a previous encounter with a vehicle, I am painfully aware of the shortcomings of mixing bicycles and cars.

May I add the following for vehicles and cyclists:

·         Do not pass a bike and then turn right directly in front of them. The bicycle doesn’t have the stopping power of a car and this dangerous manoeuver can lead to a collision.

·         Cyclists, when approaching an intersection slow down and assume that there will be a driver of a vehicle that either cannot see you or will not know the traffic regulations well enough to yield to a bicycle.

·         Even if the cyclist is in the wrong (real or perceived), please be courteous and yield as enforcing your perceived right of way can be fatal for the cyclist.

·         Cyclists, use your signals for making a turn. Don’t frustrate other traffic.

Lack of education is the root problem.

Without adequate education of both drivers and cyclists, laws and regulations create dangerous situations such as this.

Whether on foot or on a bike, I am constantly alert for cars that pose a danger.  I assume that the driver has not seen me, and I assume that the driver is unaware of the rules of the road.

No law, no lane marking, no traffic signale can protect you.  The only purpose of such things is to define blame when someone has an accident.

All the right-of-way in the world won't bring life back to the cyclist who does something so abysmally stupid as to pass a car on its blind side at an intersection -- especially if they KNOW that the driver is intending to turn right.

The skill level of drivers in BC is horrendously low.
The blame for this lies with ICBC, the governments that manage them, and with us for allowing it to happen.

Submitted by E-mail

Thank you for your article about right turns over cycle lanes. I've been driving for 35 years. Just this week I was wondering what the rules at the intersection were involving cycle paths. I thought to myself that us "old" drivers need perhaps to be brought up to speed on the rules governing these situations at the intersection.

In the mix!

Whether we like it or not, user's of BC's roadways are forced to share the roads with cars, trucks, motorcycles, bicycles, and sometimes pedestrians and wildlife. No matter what kind of user you are, perhaps many, it is key critical for your safety and sanity to understand all of the rules and how they apply to all types of users. We all have places to go, things to do, and time frames that we are trying to meet, but (to be trite), safety first. No one wants to be killed and no one needs to live with having killed someone. To that end, the better you can educate yourself on the rules and the better you can leave a margin for erros, the better off you will be.

Educating yourself is not as simple as it sounds. Too often the tools are difficult to locate (ie: Bike Sense or municipal bylaws), vague (ie: Learn To Drive Smart), or conflicting opinions that are not clear in law (many publications and websites). Municipalities with specific bylaws do not put up signs for people to see and learn. In example, Maple Ridge and New Westminster both have bylaws allowing cyclists to use the sidewalks. Elsewhere this is illegal. I have lived in Maple Ridge for 12 years and only found out about this 2009 bylaw by accident, a few weeks ago. Evertime I leave town and return, I pass the sign that isn't there, not learning this and other key facts at the same time (sarcasm).

The truth of the matter is that without ongoing education and testing, we do not know what we don't know, except when we see what is obviously wrong, out on the road, and potentially that is too late. Governments, municipal and provincial, do not do enough to educate (including making tools clearer and more readily available). Police do not do enough to prosecute (expensive is the best way to learn). If a ticket was given for every tenth occurence of drivers (cyclists included) failing to signal, failure to stop (not the 17 kph stop), speeding (not leading the flow of traffic), etc., the municipal coffers would fill to overflowing, but not for long. The media love to talk about tragedy and the sad human tales of death and destruction, but, fail in their ability and obligation to identify unsafe behaviours and educate oblivious drivers. Roadway users fail to educate themselves on the rights and the obligations they have on the roads, and fail to act in a safe and responsible manner, much of the time. Whenever that happens, someone is at risk, and we are all responsible. However, when you see two cars streaking down the highway with a car of a half distance between them, or the cyclist who is sneaking up past cars, on their right, up against the curb, or the driver who slams on the brakes for the pedestrian, in the crosswalk, with the walk light, as though he had the right of way (cyclists don't like to stop for stop signs or red lights either), or the cyclist drifting across the crosswalk, etc., it is easy to see what allowed (and encouraged?) apathy breeds.

Yes it is dangerous out there, and at the rate we are going it will continue to be, but, until everyone starts to be accountable for their own actions, voluntarily or force fed, the situation will not change. The answer is not to create expensive infrastructures to separate all the children, but, to teach the children and give them a good skite on the behind when they do not behave.


Survival of the fittest?

After being cut off again by a young lady in a late model Mustang, who chose to dart across my cycle lane and my front wheel, to turn right on a red light, without stopping, all without a signal light, I seriously want to give up. In looking at drivers, 50 to 65% do a reasonable job, but, tend to follow the leader a bit too much. The balance, excepting about 5% who are sticklers for the law, are a bunch of entitled, self-serving, meglomaniacs who feel that whatever they do, or feel they need to do, is justified by their importance to the rest of us. Whether it is driving across painted islands (funny they seem to respect concrete, but not paint), crossing solid white lines, failure to stop, failure to signal, speeding, following too close, etc., it is all about them and their needs. Safety is unimportant as long as they get what they want, and no harm could ever come to them, so who cares. Unless our citizens demand it, our government mandates it, and the municipalities who benefit from ticket revenues fund and support it, no changes will come about and we will continue to see poorer and poorer behaviours on our roadways. It is nearly a free for all out there so maybe we just scrap the rules and say it like it is, survival of the fittest (fastest?)!

bikes not in designated lanes

Nothing is more frustrating to me, as a driver and occasional cyclist, when I see many cyclists riding abreast on the roads and/or not even using the new, expensive, designated bike lanes!!  Is there no recourse??


As far as I am aware, there is no bylaw that says a cyclist must use a cycle lane if one is present.

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