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Legality of car turning right on red while cyclist is on shoulder?

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Legality of car turning right on red while cyclist is on shoulder?

Old 01-04-19, 06:44 PM
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mrodgers
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Legality of car turning right on red while cyclist is on shoulder?

An off-topic discussion on a non-cycling forum went off on a tangent of Brodozer trucks vs. electric vehicles discussion and onto cyclists on the road. I got involved and it escalated into long and interesting thoughts. Someone asked this question and I don't know the exact legalities of it.

Here is the question exactly as presented.

Here's the scenario: 2 lanes (each direction) are stopped at a red light. There's a cyclist to the right of the right lane, also stopped. Is it legal for the first person in the right lane to turn right on red (after stop), in front of the cyclist? Assume, for the sake of discussion, that the cyclist wants to proceed forward, either while the light is red, or when it turns green.
Obviously, as the discussion started about cyclists running red lights and stop signs, the first thing I noticed was "Assume.... that the cyclist wants to proceed forward, either while the light is red..." Of course, a cyclist moving forward through a red light would not be legal. It happens as many of the threads here show, but still is not legal and remarked on that on it's own.

This isn't a right hook situation. It's at a red light and the cyclist is basically at the curb or on the shoulder next to the line of cars stopped and waiting for the green light. I don't know exactly the legalities of the first car crossing the stopped path of the cyclist to make a otherwise legal right on red. I told her I would pass this question on Bikeforums and see.

Now to go further, the thought crossed my mind that if the cyclist filtered up past the line of cars, it is very possible that the first car does not notice the bicycle pulling up to the right. Now if the first car wants to turn right and can not because of continuous cross traffic, when the light turns green and they and the unnoticed cyclist both go and a situation happens, who would be at fault? The cyclist because they are not on the road being on the curb or shoulder or the driver as the driver can't be expected to notice a bicycle sneaking quietly up on their right side off the roadway where it is expected that no one will be on your right side.
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Old 01-04-19, 08:33 PM
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I'm sure the law varies from state to state. In California, turning in front of a bicyclist is illegal.
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Old 01-04-19, 08:44 PM
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If am stopping at a light and continuing straight, I move out to the center of the right lane leaving enough room for cars to filter up on the right and turn right on the red light. This is situational of course assuming there is enough width for cars to do this. It sometimes confuses drivers at first but when they see that I am not blocking right turning cars they get it. Once the light changes it’s easy enough to start off with traffic and move right after entering the intersection such that I cause virtually no delay for straight thru traffic.
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Old 01-04-19, 08:47 PM
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Cyclist should be away from the edge of the road towards the center of the lane. That way when the light turns green no one can turn in front of them. Great example of taking the lane being the safe thing to do.
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Old 01-04-19, 08:54 PM
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I would imagine if a cyclist wants to lane-split (ride along side a line of stopped cars to get to the front) The cyclist would be breaking the law—in some jurisdictions. I believe some states allow lane-splitting on motorcycles, so I would assume bikes would be included.

In either case, if the cyclist was not smart enough to make sure s/he was visible, then the cyclist would be creating the hazard … and would be stupid.

A smarter cyclist might look for a blinker indicating a car wanted to turn, or might act on the assumption that the car wanted to turn, just to be safe, and either stay back, or go far forward. In either case, the cyclist should be considerate of the possibility that the driver might want to turn.

If the cyclist arrives first, s/he can take the lane and/or move far enough forward into the intersection that a car rolling up behind and planning to turn could get far to the right in the lane and make the turn unimpeded.

If a driver hit the cyclist, the driver would be at fault. ‘I didn’t see him” doesn’t cut it. If it had been a pedestrian, who was walking on the side of the road ... Basically, if you cannot see that the route is clear, you cannot go. If you fail to look, that is on you. Not “expecting” someone to be there is fine. Not looking is not.

If the cyclist is far enough back that the driver can make a right on red without hitting the cyclist … no problem. If the cyclist stupidly blocks the turn lane … well, sometimes the car ahead in a straight/turn lane doesn’t want to turn. That’s life.

Once the light turns green, whichever vehicle is first in line is free to proceed in any legal direction. If the cylist wants to challenge the car for first entry into the intersection, while not being ahead of the car, the cyclist would be at fault and stupid. If the cyclist were ahead of the car—even if only be half a bike-length—then the car would have to wait.

Maybe.

Anything I say is just an opinion … or maybe even a bad joke, it can be hard to tell.
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Old 01-05-19, 02:12 AM
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If I have a red light, and there are turning cars to my left, I don't care if they do right on red (safely), as long as they yield to me once the light changes.

A bike lane should never be to the right of an obligatory double right turn lane.

I found this a while ago.

Bike Lane goes straight. You can see curb to right of bike lane.

Obligatory Right Turn lane is created for 1/2 block to the right of the bike lane.

Yield signs above on light pole and bridge for the optional straight/turn lane.

Lots of green paint on the road.

A large part of the traffic in the straight/right optional lane actually goes straight.



The situation is not ideal, but much better than being to the right of both lanes.

I wouldn't care if cars pulled in behind me and turned right from the lane to the right of me.

I'd prefer if cars didn't cross my path in front of me to turn right from the left straight/turn optional lane, but it probably wouldn't bother me that much as long as they would stop, look, and go. Being stuck in the middle of a moving school of fish would feel uncomfortable.

As above, in cases where there is an obligatory right turn, I might naturally look, then move left, perhaps lane splitting.

Oh, one other thing. If there aren't any pedestrians, I often stop in the middle of the crosswalk, in a place where I'm clearly visible to stopped cars. In this case, it might interrupt the optional turn lane, but that is OK.

Last edited by CliffordK; 01-05-19 at 02:16 AM.
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Old 01-05-19, 05:36 AM
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Originally Posted by jimincalif View Post
If am stopping at a light and continuing straight, I move out to the center of the right lane leaving enough room for cars to filter up on the right and turn right on the red light. This is situational of course assuming there is enough width for cars to do this. It sometimes confuses drivers at first but when they see that I am not blocking right turning cars they get it. Once the light changes it’s easy enough to start off with traffic and move right after entering the intersection such that I cause virtually no delay for straight thru traffic.
I do basically the same thing.

As for the scenario given in the OP...that's why I always take the lane when at a stop sign or light. It's much safer to be in the center of the lane when starting off from a dead stop, since not everyone always uses their turn signal; furthermore, it makes it easier for drivers to see you so they know it's safe to turn without right-hooking you.
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Old 01-05-19, 07:16 AM
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Another option is just to stay back behind the line of cars, until the light changes. Reason being that in my area, probably half the cars that are planning to turn right don't signal in such a situation. If you stay back behind the line of cars stopped at the intersection (leaving some space for additional cars to stack up) until the light changes and traffic starts moving forward, you can avoid the drama, and catch a nice draft as the pack of cars proceeds through the intersection as though you weren't there.

This avoids being in the situation of having the light change to green, with a car to your left wanting to turn right, which is always extremely awkward for me on a bike. And in that situation it's arguably the cyclist who's in the wrong, if I'm understanding the OP correctly, since the cyclist ought not to be to the far right of the lane if they are planning to proceed straight.
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Old 01-05-19, 08:48 AM
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Originally Posted by Lemond1985 View Post
And in that situation it's arguably the cyclist who's in the wrong, if I'm understanding the OP correctly, since the cyclist ought not to be to the far right of the lane if they are planning to proceed straight.
Seems that way.

This is another (it seems to me) common-sense situation which road riders, particularly commuters who often have no choice but to face a lot of traffic, deal with regularly and easily. Either pull ahead, take the lane, or lag back ... all easy solutions, and I have used them all, whichever was best for the situation.

I think riders who have trouble with this stuff maybe don't try to think of the whole situation and the other people involved---which for me is the only safe way, and the more decent way, to behave. I don't so much care for traffic laws, as survival. Does me no good if the guy who killed me gets a ticket. Does me no good if I am trying to clip in and push off and some guy tried to cut across me because I didn't bother to make sure he knew I was there. So ... I don't get into those situations.

I assume most of us naturally find these same simple solutions.
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Old 01-05-19, 09:01 AM
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Good discussion but, the question isn't about what we should do. Most of us know what we should do. This is a question from the driver. They can't control what the cyclist does. The cyclist is sitting to the right of traffic. There is no he should have been in the lane with cars. It's from the driver's viewpoint not ours.

They were asking about the legalities of making a right on red when a bicycle is sitting there to the right.

I did give her the explanation of what the cyclist should have done. The discussion started with complaints about cyclists not pulling off the road to let auto traffic go by. Quite a few folks jumped in and they got a decent education of why bicycles are and should be out on the roadway. This is a vacation forum off-topic section, nothing to do with bicycles, cars, or whatnot.
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Old 01-05-19, 09:12 AM
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Again, the legalities are secondary. If I run over a cyclist, whether or not I get a ticket is not primary.

If a driver is aware, and attentive ... s/he can roll down the widow and ask the cyclist's intentions.

Just going and hoping seems like a silly non-solution.

If the driver had his/her right blinker on, and was over to the right in the lane, ready to turn right, the cyclist should have seen that, if the cyclist came up after the car. Still, good to ask, or tap the horn and point, or something.

If the cyclist was there first, the cyclist has the right of way. Before making what would then be a probably illegal turn across a vehicle's path, one should definitely take some time to find out what the cyclist intends.

Again--- as for legalities, the first vehicle to the intersection has the right of way. But "right of way" won't make you fell better if you cripple some kid because you didn't want to be bothered rolling down your window and asking. Or maybe it would. We are all different.
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Old 01-05-19, 09:45 AM
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Driver is clearly legally at fault in this right-hook scenario because the cyclist is legally occupying the shoulder. Almost ALL FRAP laws allow the cyclist to ride on the shoulder, and where it's not explicitly allowed by statute it is still common in practice. A right-turning car cannot cut across through traffic, period. I'll also mention at this point that moving up on the right shoulder is NOT lane splitting and certainly not illegal.

Even if it's a car and not a bike, if you leave room on the right for a vehicle even on a shoulder, and a vehicle gets there you cannot turn across him.

"Should" is a different question and the cyclist should not put himself in that situation at an intersection.
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Old 01-05-19, 11:18 AM
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I don't know about the legalities but it happens all the time, and if both cyclist and driver are aware of each other then there is no issue. If cyclist gets clipped while car is making right turn then obviously driver is at fault. In fact any time a car hits a stationary object the driver is at fault, obviously.

Personally I would not put myself in that position for that potential danger. When stopped at an intersection, whether it's one or two lanes, I position myself on the left side of the (right) lane so that, first of all, drivers approaching the intersection behind me know that I'm proceeding straight through, and second, cars intending to turn right can do so. Drivers who are aware and knowledgeable will recognize this, and often I've gotten head nods or waves as a 'thank you' from those turning right.

Once I pass the intersection I move over to the right when it is safe to so.
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Old 01-05-19, 11:56 AM
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The right hook scenario I almost get hit by is the driver who pulls immediately ahead of me and turns into a driveway. Unlike the intersection scenario, there is no way for the cyclist to anticipate that move. I know it's illegal for a driver to do that in the jurisdictions I ride in, but it's a recurring problem.
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Old 01-05-19, 12:07 PM
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Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
If I have a red light, and there are turning cars to my left, I don't care if they do right on red (safely), as long as they yield to me once the light changes.

Same. I'm in this situation frequently, both in the bike rider's position and the car driver's. It seems to be the common understanding (at least where I live): the car can turn right on red, but must yield to the bike on green. But as I bicyclist I know many car driver's aren't looking that way when they're making their right turn - most are but some aren't. Must ride extra defensively here.
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Old 01-05-19, 12:15 PM
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If you have to, use the crosswalk. You are like asking the Union Pacific to stop for you.

Never assume that a driver has seen you, or at least recognized that you are on a bicycle.

Even if they did, what about the driver(s) behind them?

You have to cooperate with traffic as much as they with you. You have no special status. There is no 'take the road'. There is yield or proceed.
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Old 01-05-19, 02:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Maelochs View Post
Seems that way.

This is another (it seems to me) common-sense situation which road riders, particularly commuters who often have no choice but to face a lot of traffic, deal with regularly and easily. Either pull ahead, take the lane, or lag back ... all easy solutions, and I have used them all, whichever was best for the situation.

I think riders who have trouble with this stuff maybe don't try to think of the whole situation and the other people involved---which for me is the only safe way, and the more decent way, to behave. I don't so much care for traffic laws, as survival. Does me no good if the guy who killed me gets a ticket. Does me no good if I am trying to clip in and push off and some guy tried to cut across me because I didn't bother to make sure he knew I was there. So ... I don't get into those situations.

I assume most of us naturally find these same simple solutions.
Good answers and yeah, frankly that IS what regular commuters do... the only problems that then tend to arise are when some driver seeks to do something totally odd, like drive straight through from a right turn lane or turn right from a center lane... Both are situations I have encountered that were not signaled in any way by the motorists doing so (who BTW did not check for cyclists).

But yeah, I generally agree with your assessment... working to merge and flow with all other traffic when and where possible is the best practice.
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Old 01-05-19, 03:49 PM
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"Can you" and "should you" seem to be the trending questions here. Whatever the case is with legality, I'm not going to be on the shoulder while a car is about to turn right. I'll take the crosswalk to avoid any confusion in terms of intention, or I'll be in lane with the cars, as bicycles are vehicles, too.
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Old 01-05-19, 04:04 PM
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I'm probably stating the obvious, but if there is a designated "right turn" lane with a curved arrow painted on the pavement, and a sign that says "Right lane must turn right" cyclists should not be in that lane if they intend to go straight. Regarding crosswalks, I personally avoid them unless I'm walking on foot and pushing my bike.
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Old 01-05-19, 09:58 PM
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As for the original question, I would say it would be ok to make a right on red in front of a cyclist. The light is red and the cyclist stopped, should that negate you being able to turn on red, I say no. Light turns green then no they can’t turn in front of the cyclist.
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Old 01-06-19, 07:31 AM
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Originally Posted by mrodgers View Post
Good discussion but, the question isn't about what we should do. Most of us know what we should do. This is a question from the driver. They can't control what the cyclist does. The cyclist is sitting to the right of traffic. There is no he should have been in the lane with cars. It's from the driver's viewpoint not ours.

They were asking about the legalities of making a right on red when a bicycle is sitting there to the right.

I did give her the explanation of what the cyclist should have done. The discussion started with complaints about cyclists not pulling off the road to let auto traffic go by. Quite a few folks jumped in and they got a decent education of why bicycles are and should be out on the roadway. This is a vacation forum off-topic section, nothing to do with bicycles, cars, or whatnot.
The legalities will vary depending upon state laws. I honestly don't know how the law would play out in my state. State law does allow bicyclists to ride on the shoulder. I would think if that is the case then the bicyclist would have the right of way over right turning cars. As a matter of routine, unless I have a dedicated lane, I do not put myself to the right of motorists at an intersection.
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Old 01-06-19, 09:40 AM
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It actually makes it easier for the car drivers when you do put yourself in the lane at a stop sign/light, simply because the driver can readily see you in their rearview mirror, thereby not having to look in their blindspot for a cyclist (as well as looking for other potential hazards) as they're attempting to make a right turn. Furthermore, it's allowed by most state laws. I think most states have similar wording as my state, copied below. (bold/underlined emphasis is mine).

Statutes & Constitution :View Statutes : Online Sunshine

(5)(a) Any person operating a bicycle upon a roadway at less than the normal speed of traffic at the time and place and under the conditions then existing shall ride in the lane marked for bicycle use or, if no lane is marked for bicycle use, as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway except under any of the following situations:
1. When overtaking and passing another bicycle or vehicle proceeding in the same direction.
2. When preparing for a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway.
3. When reasonably necessary to avoid any condition or potential conflict, including, but not limited to, a fixed or moving object, parked or moving vehicle, bicycle, pedestrian, animal, surface hazard, turn lane, or substandard-width lane, which makes it unsafe to continue along the right-hand curb or edge or within a bicycle lane. For the purposes of this subsection, a “substandard-width lane” is a lane that is too narrow for a bicycle and another vehicle to travel safely side by side within the lane.
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Old 01-06-19, 10:00 AM
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All of my dangerous passes and near misses happened when driver number 2 or driver number 3 followed what driver number 1 did. Number 1 driver assessed situation and was safe enough, but some drivers are unaware that circumstances can change by the second on the road. Humans love blindly following trends. Its like oh hey, this human is doing this, i can do the same thing without even thinking about it.

Last edited by reishi; 01-06-19 at 10:08 AM.
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Old 01-06-19, 11:27 AM
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Originally Posted by Paul Barnard View Post
The legalities will vary depending upon state laws. I honestly don't know how the law would play out in my state. State law does allow bicyclists to ride on the shoulder. I would think if that is the case then the bicyclist would have the right of way over right turning cars. As a matter of routine, unless I have a dedicated lane, I do not put myself to the right of motorists at an intersection.
The question to that thought is, how does a stopped vehicle have the right of way over another vehicle that can legally make a move? It's an issue of a bicycle stopped and not moving at a red light vs another vehicle who can otherwise legally move from their lane and proceed at the same red light (the right on red).
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Old 01-06-19, 11:51 AM
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I don't think this is any different from a car changing lanes without first checking that his blind spot is clear.
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