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Old 08-22-07, 08:27 AM   #1
genedoc
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Right turn laws in LA

Does anyone know if there are specific laws in LA County regarding bicycles and right turns - either at intersections or entry ways? For example, How far ahead does a car have to pass a cyclist to have "right of way" to make a right turn into a drive way? Do cars always have to yield to cyclist when making right turns. Is it legal to ride in the gutter to the intersection past a dozen cars in a right turn lane?

Years ago in Boulder, CO, for example, cyclists were allowed to ride up along waiting cars at intersections, but only to the first in line car with a right turn signal. That first turning car had right of way when the light turned green, but not the rest.
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Old 08-22-07, 08:54 AM   #2
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I recently read in the CA Driver Handbook that a car making a right turn MUST merge with the bike lane before the intersection to make the right turn.

http://www.dmv.ca.gov/pubs/hdbk/pgs22thru25.htm#bike_ln
"When you are making a right turn and are within 200 feet of the corner or other driveway entrance, you must enter the bike lane for the turn. Do not drive in the bike lane at any other time."
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Old 08-22-07, 09:18 AM   #3
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This is just my recollection, so I could easily be wrong here, but...
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How far ahead does a car have to pass a cyclist to have "right of way" to make a right turn into a drive way?
Far enough to do so safely and without impeding the cyclist
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Originally Posted by genedoc View Post
Do cars always have to yield to cyclist when making right turns?
Yes, although I try to make room for them if I'm waiting to go straight at a red.
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Is it legal to ride in the gutter to the intersection past a dozen cars in a right turn lane?
I don't believe so (it would be considered filtering). I think we are supposed to follow the motorcycle rule on white lining for that.

That being said, I have never seen or hear of a car get a ticket for turning right in front of a cyclist, for passing a cyclist in a narrow lane, or for a cyclist passing a car on the right.
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Last edited by urbanknight; 08-22-07 at 09:28 AM.
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Old 08-22-07, 04:32 PM   #4
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The issue came up on a training ride recently where a pick-up clearly sped up to get in front of us to turn into a parking lot. No obvious bike lane and in the middle of the block - and in this case did not result in a "close call, but did raise the general question. We were riding about 23mph or so and, to none of our surprise, closed the distance about the same time the pick-up began the turn and slowed to navigate the driveway. We had to slow and wait. Some of the guys were ready to make a point of it with the driver, but others cautioned that the driver had the right of way.

It often clear to me that drivers think all they need is to "be ahead" and they have the right to make the right turn. It be nice to know, before we call some driver out, if we really are in the right or not. It's one thing to do something stupid, but I hate being stupid and wrong.
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Old 08-22-07, 05:11 PM   #5
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It depends. Just use good judgement and place safety first. I've seen many cities divert bicycle traffic from the street to the sidewalk at/near major intersections, esp if there is a right turn only lane(s) for cars. Plus you are assuming that the cars won't be close to the curb/gutter, or some pissed off/having a bad day/some do it for laughs driver won't try to cut you off or intentionally move to close the gap to the curb forcing you to stop or having to jump the curb to avoid an accident.

A lot of drivers don't see cyclists or motorcyclists, esp in rush hour, and dart in and out or make turns just in front of you...to them it's plenty of room, but for the cyclist, it may be a close call. Some cyclist advocates insist on exercising their road rights, but a 3,000+ lb car vs a bicycle isn't too pretty for the cyclist.
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Old 08-22-07, 08:02 PM   #6
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More poking around in the CA Driver's Handbook:
http://www.dmv.ca.gov/pubs/hdbk/pgs55thru57.htm#bike

"Drivers must:
*look carefully for bicyclists before opening doors next to moving traffic or before turning right.
*safely merge toward the curb or into the bike lane.
*not overtake a bicyclist just before making a right turn. Merge first, then turn."

Driver's Handbook specifically tells drivers not to do what that driver did in your situation, genedoc.
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