Our community recently put bike lanes in and within the first week there was a cyclist injured. Can you address how to handle bike lanes as a motorist? Is the bike lane treated as just another lane of traffic? When you are turning into a driveway or onto a road to the right and you have to cross a bike lane and there is a cyclist there, does the cyclist have the right away?
A bicycle lane is a designated use lane of the highway intended for use by cyclists only. It is separated from the usual traffic lanes by a single solid white line and designated by a diamond and bicycle symbol. Motor vehicle drivers cannot drive, stand or park in this lane.
If the designation is not painted or signed it is not a bicycle lane, rather it is part of the shoulder of the highway.
Turns at intersections must be made to the first available lane. The bicycle lane is not available on a right turn unless you are a cyclist, so motorists must travel a little further into the intersection before turning. In fact, the Manual of Standard Traffic Signs and Pavement Markings for British Columbia contains a warning sign for this situation instructing that right turns must be made wider than normally.
Passing on the right is another consideration. Many drivers think nothing of passing a overtaken vehicle turning left but they cannot do this if it means traveling over the solid white line or off of the roadway. The rule is supposed to protect cyclists in the bicycle lane, which is not part of the roadway, but a wise cyclist would never count on proper driving behaviour.
Lastly, we need to examine the case where a motorist needs to turn into or leave a driveway or alley. You are permitted to cross over a designated lane in order to park or leave the highway. Just signal, shoulder check and enter if it is safe to do so, yielding to cyclists in the bicycle lane. If you are leaving the driveway or alley, you must yield the right of way to cyclists approaching closely enough to be a hazard.
- Driving on Laned Roadway - Section 151 MVA
- Designated Use Lanes - Section 153.2 MVA
- Turning at Intersections - Section 165 MVA
- Emerging from Alleys - Section 176 MVA
- BikeSense - The BC Bicycle Operator's Manual
- Rules of the Road - Road Sense for Drivers
- Manual of Standard Traffic Signs and Pavement Markings for British Columbia