Problem With Cyclist at Intersection

I wanted to turn left from one angled road onto another angled road.

Two vehicles were stopped at the stop sign.

The first vehicle was turning right and as he did, I prepared to turn left...suddenly I have a cyclist turning left from the same spot as the car; the cyclist was not obvious tucked beside the car. I could have hit the cyclist.

This bothered me; I pulled over, parked and reviewed what just happened and why did it happen.

So my question is: if a cyclist and a car are stopped at a stop sign, should there not be a way to determine which one goes first? I don't think both should proceed at the same time...one in each direction, especially because I'm on the flowing road.

It is now obvious to me that the cyclist made a huge error turning left. But still, the car and the cyclist should have had a way to line up instead of being side by side.

Answer

What we tend to forget is the following:

Rights and duties of operator of cycle

183 (1) In addition to the duties imposed by this section, a person operating a cycle on a highway has the same rights and duties as a driver of a vehicle.

So, barring instructions to the contrary, cycle riders must ride as if they were driving a car, and car drivers must drive as if the cyclist is a car. Perhaps at this point, think of a cycle rider the same way you would a motorcycle rider.

When we turn left at an intersection, these rules apply to drivers, motorcyclists and cyclists:

Turning at intersections

165 (2) When the driver of a vehicle intends to turn it to the left at an intersection where traffic is permitted to move in both directions on each highway entering the intersection, the driver must

(a) cause the vehicle to approach the intersection in the portion of the right side of the roadway that is nearest the marked centre line, or if there is no marked centre line, then as far as practicable in the portion of the right half of the roadway that is nearest the centre line,

(b) keep the vehicle to the right of the marked centre line or centre line of the roadway, as the case may be, at the place the highway enters the intersection,

(c) after entering the intersection, turn the vehicle to the left so that it leaves the intersection to the right of the marked centre line of the roadway being entered, or if there is no marked centre line then to the right of the centre line of the roadway being entered, and,

(d) when practicable, turn the vehicle in the portion of the intersection to the left of the centre of the intersection.

(3) When the driver of a vehicle intends to turn the vehicle left at an intersection where traffic is restricted to one direction on one or more of the highways, the driver must cause the vehicle to approach the intersection in the extreme left hand lane available to traffic moving in the direction of travel of the vehicle, and after entering the intersection turn the vehicle to the left so as to leave the intersection as nearly as practicable in the left hand lane available to traffic moving in the direction of travel of the vehicle on the highway being entered.

Section 183 does have special provisions for cyclists turning left at an intersection:

(4) Despite section 165, a person operating a cycle who intends to turn it to the left at an intersection where there is more than one lane from which left turns are permitted must

(a) cause the cycle to approach the intersection in the lane closest to the right side of the highway from which a left turn is permitted,

(b) keep the cycle to the right of the line that divides the lane referred to in paragraph (a) from the lane immediately to the left of that lane,

(c) after entering the intersection, turn the cycle to the left so that it will leave the intersection to the right of the line referred to in paragraph (b), and

(d) when practicable, turn the cycle in the portion of the intersection to the left of the centre of the intersection.

We don't have to consider that in this case because there is no left turn lane, let alone multiple left turn lanes.

The only other issue to contend with is lane position for the cyclist:

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

In this case, the right hand side of the highway is by the right edge of the pavement because:

183 (3) Nothing in subsection (2) (c) requires a person to ride a cycle on any part of a highway that is not paved.

What is really important to understand here is the word practicable in 183(2)(c) above. In this case, it would NOT be practicable for the cycle rider to remain over on the right side of the pavement before turning left. Overtaking vehicle traffic without a doubt would ignore the cyclist's left turn signal and pass by making the turn a dangerous one. The cyclist should approach the intersection by taking a position in the lane that would prevent overtaking traffic from doing this.

Left turn strategies for cyclists are discussed and diagrammed in the BikeSense Manual.

Having decided where and how, we have to move on to when. There are two sections of the Motor Vehicle Act that deal with yielding for left turns:

Yielding right of way on left turn

174 When a vehicle is in an intersection and its driver intends to turn left, the driver must yield the right of way to traffic approaching from the opposite direction that is in the intersection or so close as to constitute an immediate hazard, but having yielded and given a signal as required by sections 171 and 172, the driver may turn the vehicle to the left, and traffic approaching the intersection from the opposite direction must yield the right of way to the vehicle making the left turn.

Entering through highway

175 (1) If a vehicle that is about to enter a through highway has stopped in compliance with section 186,

(a) the driver of the vehicle must yield the right of way to traffic that has entered the intersection on the through highway or is approaching so closely on it that it constitutes an immediate hazard, and

(b) having yielded, the driver may proceed with caution.

(2) If a vehicle is entering a through highway in compliance with subsection (1), traffic approaching the intersection on the highway must yield the right of way to the entering vehicle while it is proceeding into or across the highway.

Having read carefully, you will see that neither you nor the cyclist you described have absolute right of way to make the turns that you wish to. It all depends on where in the process each of you happen to be. It may be that the cyclist has to yield and wait for you to turn or you may have to yield and let the cyclist make the turn first.

Because it takes relatively longer for a cyclist to accelerate, a driver in your situation should watch more carefully to decide where in the process the cyclist is.

Also, because of their vulnerability, even if they are right, the cyclist should make sure that they are seen and their intentions are clear to other drivers before they proceed.

Complicated, isn't it?

What about the stop sign?

Ignoring the motor vehicle act for a moment, it seems impossible for the cyclist stopped at the stop sign to complete his/her left turn safely because of the approaching vehicle - regardless of whether the vehicle turns left or continues on straight.  Would this not then indicate that the cyclist facing the stop sign entered the intersection while it was unsafe to do so?

John

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