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Bike lanes at intersections?

Old 10-04-07, 02:26 PM
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avanwyns
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Bike lanes at intersections?

Just moved to San Diego area from the Midwest and my commute went from a nice ride on back roads with no cars to navigating 5 lane roads and their associated bike lanes.

I'm confused on the proper use of the bike lane when coming to an intersection. At many places on my commute, I have a labeled bike lane with a solid line nearest the right hand curb. When I come to an intersection, the solid line becomes dashed. After the intersection, the solid line denoting the bike lane begins again. I understand that cars turning right must merge into the bike lane to turn right, but am I allowed to go straight from the bike lane? That is: Is the bike lane a "straight-or-right" lane for bikes but a "right-only" lane for cars? The alternative is to merge into the farthest right "straight-only" lane and then merge back into the bike lane once I cross the intersection. The latter avoids the right hooks, but the merging seems difficult and unsafe given the amount of traffic on my commute. The latter would effectively make the bike lane useless. It seems the relevant CA vehicular code is 21208:

21208. (a) Whenever a bicycle lane has been established on a roadway pursuant to Section 21207, any person operating a bicycle upon the roadway at a speed less than the normal speed of traffic moving in the same direction at that time shall ride within the bicycle lane, except that the person may move out of the lane under any of the following situations: ... ...(4) When approaching a place where a right turn is authorized.

I highlighted "may" in the above b/c it seems to suggest that I'm allowed to leave the bike lane but that I am not required to do so. I'm asking because I was told by another cyclist that I must leave the bike lane when I go through an intersection. He did not use the bike lane at any time, btw.

Can anyone clarify this for me?
Thanks
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Old 10-04-07, 02:35 PM
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The reason it says "may" is you have the option to go to the left of a right hand turning car. You are not compelled to do so. However, I always find it safer and you may as well.
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Old 10-04-07, 02:35 PM
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I look at bike lanes as guides rather than hard and fast rules. You can go straight from the bike lane, but people might hook you. If you ride the left edge of the bike lane, I think you can minimize the chance of this occurring. You can merge to the straight through lane, but make sure you signal, and the driver acknowledges you before you take the straight through lane.
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Old 10-04-07, 02:39 PM
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You that fellow from Nebraska I talked to this weekend? Anyway, I read it as you must merge left but only if it is a right turn only lane. Otherwise you may remain in the turn lane if cars will not let you merge.

I could be wrong though, I just prefer to wait for traffic to slow before I accelerate and cross. The intersection of Kearny S and the 163 comes to mind here.
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Old 10-04-07, 03:09 PM
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AGGRO- nope, not the guy from Nebraska.

thomson, I'm surprised you find it safer to go left around the cars. My situation is usually a line of cars with their right halves in the bike lane and their left halves in the right-most vehicular lane stopped at the stop light making right on red turns, and another line of cars fitting in the left portion of the right-most vehicular lane going straight. I just wait in the line behind the right-turning cars who eventually clear as they turn. I'll soon be at the front of the bike lane waiting until the light turns green.

A good example for those familiar with the area is the intersection of Nobel and the La Jolla Village Square entrance or Nobel and the on-ramp for the 5.
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Old 10-04-07, 03:56 PM
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I ride through there every Saturday. I think what you are talking about are regular straight or right turn lanes, not right turn only lanes. In those cases, I stay on the right side of the street near the curb. It's just as if you're driving a car in that lane; you can either go right or go straight; so I stay in that lane because I can go straight.

On right turn only car lanes though, I will move left to the first non-right turn only lane. Example here is on Nobel going towards LJVSq at the Regents traffic light. The right most bike lane ends, and the car lanes are split between one right turn only and the rest going straight. In that case, I'll ride in the right-most straight through lane. This is the same as going in the other direction on Nobel at Genesee but doesn't have a well defined bike lane at the intersection.
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Old 10-04-07, 04:32 PM
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A car is required to use the "bike lane" to make a right turn if there are no bicyclist present (if the line is broken. If it remains solid a car cannot enter). Generally bicyclist will stay to the left of the bike lane so cars can right turn without obstruction. It's the polite thing to do. Also the safest. You don't want to force a car to turn right across the bike lane if you occupy it.
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Old 10-04-07, 04:48 PM
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Originally Posted by DaveSANYYZ View Post
It's just as if you're driving a car in that lane; you can either go right or go straight; so I stay in that lane because I can go straight.
Unfortunately, cars tend to double up in the right-most lanes so there'll be the straight-half and the right-turn-half.

Originally Posted by DMV Driver Handbook
If the bicyclist is traveling straight ahead, he or she should use a through traffic lane rather than ride next to the curb and block traffic making right turns.
I agree with the DMV because of the following condrum:
The car(s) may or may not want to turn right. Similarly, the driver(s) don't know if I want to turn right or not (besides the ones who saw my hand signal).

If I stay on the right side of the street, I might get squashed or the driver might worry about squashing me (let's hope it's the latter).

If I merge into the normal lane, they don't have to think about me at all. I'll just go straight when the light turns green and tend to the right side to enter the bike line again.
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Old 10-04-07, 05:41 PM
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DaveSANYYZ is exactly right, I am talking about intersections that do not have right-turn only lanes. At my intersections from right to left there is: 1. bike lane (dashed near intersection) 2. car lane going straight 3. car lane going straight 4. left hand turn lane. Cars turning right are suppossed to merge into the bike lane no more than 200 ft from the intersection. (as least as much as they can--the bike lane is not big enough for the entire car--see my previous post)

I also agree with Dave's second paragraph dealing with intersections that have right-hand turn only lanes.

BCIpam- if what you mean is once you get to the red light you pull to the very front and left of the bike lane to allow cars to turn to the right behind you, then I do the same. This does require me to stick into the crosswalk some.

I'm curious if anyone knows what the actual law is. If I can follow the law and still be safe, I'm happy to oblige
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Old 10-04-07, 07:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Zian View Post
Unfortunately, cars tend to double up in the right-most lanes so there'll be the straight-half and the right-turn-half.
I'm not sure what the correct approach is, so this is what I normally do:

If they're already doubled up in front of me before I get there, I'll wait behind them.

If I got there first and there are no other cars in that lane and I don't need to stay in the center to trip the sensor, I just stayed on the right most side beside the curb, and a little back. This way, cars turning right won't squish me and they still have room to turn right. Here, I'm making the assumption that they've already seen me when they approach the intersection (because I got there first), and they know I'm not turning right because I would've been closer to the corner and would have already made the turn.

Not sure what the actual law is, but I think it'll be the same as if you're driving a car. You can go straight or you can turn right. If you happened to be at the front and going straight and there are cars that want to turn right; then tough luck. I normally try to roll a little forward and to the left (if I'm in a car) to let the right turn cars through; but that is not always possible. I do the same when I ride a bike - if I'm in the center trying to trip a sensor and a car behind me wants to make a right turn.
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Old 10-05-07, 09:43 AM
  #11  
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Notice the wording: "When approaching a place where a right turn is authorized." instead of, "When approaching an intersection."

Driveway entrances to malls, for example, are not intersections, but a place where a right turn is authorized. You may leave the bike lane.

A couple other points: To meet with current California guidelines, bike lanes are supposed to end a specified distance before any intersection (50-200', I believe). They don't all do this (because they aren't all current yet), but it might be wise to treat them as if they do. Aside from the obvious right-hook potential of riding the right of potential right-turners, there is a liability issue. If you get right-hooked at an intersection because you were riding to the far right, the police may try to assign you liability.
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Old 10-05-07, 10:41 AM
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Thanks everybody for the advice; it's been very helpful.

A couple more points:

DaveSANYYZ- it seems we're on the same page and approach these intersections in a similar fashion.

zeytoun- maybe it's semantics, but the "intersections" I'm trying to describe have either 4-way stops or stoplights, including the entrance to the mall area at La Jolla Village Square. right-hand turns are obviously authorized here as well.

Also, since cars are required to merge into the bike lane to make their right hand turn I should never be riding to the right of cars turning right. The danger, however, is that many cars do not properly merge into the bike lane and then turn right from a lane that is actually a straight-only lane. (I think very few motorists actually realize this--they think that they're not suppossed to ever be in a bike lane.)

zeytoun-do you know the code that states that bike lanes are suppossed to end before intersections, I've never seen that before and would like to check it out.

Thanks
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Old 10-06-07, 12:55 PM
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avanwyns

on the semantics of the word "intersection", I wasn't correcting anything you said. I was pointing out that in addition to intersections (where 2 roads meet) you are also not required to remain in Bike Lanes at any place where a right turn is authorized (including non-signaled driveway entrances - which aren't technically "intersections").

Yes, you're right that cars are required to merge first, then turn. In addition to the danger from cars who ignore this law, there are a couple other things.

1) If the bike lane disappears, so does the obligation to merge into one
2) While a car is to merge into the BL, and then turn, there are also some gray areas where you might be assigned blame. If a car passes you and immediately turns right he might get blamed, but if you are approaching a row of stopped cars, and one pulls into the BL just before you get there, causing you to rear-end them, you might get the blame.

The source for bike lane info I presented is the MUTCD:
http://www.dot.ca.gov/hq/traffops/si...f/CA-Part9.pdf
Where motor vehicle right turns are not permitted, the solid bike lane stripe should extend to the edge of
the intersection, and begin again on the far side. Where right turns are permitted, the solid stripe should
terminate 30 m (100 ft) to 60 m (200 ft) prior to the intersection.
Option:
A dashed line, as shown in Figure 9C-102, may be carried to, or near, the intersection. Where city
blocks are short (less than 120 m (400 ft)), the length of dashed stripe may be 30 m (100 ft).
Guidance:
Where blocks are longer or vehicle speeds are high (greater than 60 km/h (35 mph)), the length of dashed
stripe should be increased to 60 m (200 ft).
---
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Old 10-06-07, 01:36 PM
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Hey, welcome to Diego!
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Old 10-06-07, 02:46 PM
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Good job Nachoman! How could we forget? Welcome to our fine city!
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Old 10-06-07, 03:12 PM
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Oh yeah! Welcome! And you seem to be living close by too.
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Old 10-06-07, 10:55 PM
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Come join in on an SDBC Saturday morning ride. I saw Dave there last weekend!
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Old 10-08-07, 11:27 AM
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zeytoun-- thanks for the link; it was exactly what I was looking for! I'll blame my inability to find this on our government's tendancy for making the laws vague and confusing rather than my poor googling skills...

To strengthen the passage you quoted, I'm including a line from a previous paragraph of the same document:

Option:
The Bike Lane Intersection (Detail 39A) [Detail 39A is the dashed line] line as shown in Figure 9C-101 may be used to extend the bike
lane to or through an intersection.



Which means, that the bike lane does not end when the dashed line starts, but goes all the way to the intersection.

It's nice to know that I'm riding both safely and lawfully.

Thanks for the welcomes and the invite to the saturday ride. Pretty sure I'm a D or C- rider. Not sure I fit in though, I don't own any lycra...
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Old 10-08-07, 12:18 PM
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Originally Posted by avanwyns View Post
Thanks for the welcomes and the invite to the saturday ride. Pretty sure I'm a D or C- rider. Not sure I fit in though, I don't own any lycra...
Yet
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Old 10-08-07, 12:35 PM
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Not that many people ride in lycra in D; maybe 50/50 in C- (+ a mix of mtb's and hybrids). On the faster B ride last week, there was a fast guy in normal gym clothing. At my speeds, lycra makes me more comfy than making me fast. I wore regular gym clothing and a camelback for a month or so and felt fine... until I tried the lycra stuff. Just wear something that won't flap around too much in the wind, as it can get annoying.
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Old 10-08-07, 06:29 PM
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<end vacation mode, now jumping into the forums>

Originally Posted by BCIpam View Post
A car is required to use the "bike lane" to make a right turn if there are no bicyclist present (if the line is broken. If it remains solid a car cannot enter). Generally bicyclist will stay to the left of the bike lane so cars can right turn without obstruction. It's the polite thing to do. Also the safest. You don't want to force a car to turn right across the bike lane if you occupy it.
Close ... but actually, a driver of a motor vehicle is always required to merge into the bike lane before turning, regardless of dashing: http://www.dmv.ca.gov/pubs/vctop/d11/vc21717.htm

21717. Whenever it is necessary for the driver of a motor vehicle to cross a bicycle lane that is adjacent to his lane of travel to make a turn, the driver shall drive the motor vehicle into the bicycle lane prior to making the turn and shall make the turn pursuant to Section 22100.
And this says how far back the driver of the motor vehicle may do the merge: http://www.dmv.ca.gov/pubs/vctop/d11/vc21209.htm

21209. (a) No person shall drive a motor vehicle in a bicycle lane established on a roadway pursuant to Section 21207 except as follows: ... (3) To prepare for a turn within a distance of 200 feet from the intersection.
There's other laws that prevent a driver from merging into the bike lane when there is a cyclist already there.

However, I've found that most drivers find it counter-intuitive to merge into the bike lane before turning, especially if the bike lane is narrower than a vehicle. For that reason, I may exercise the option to leave the bike lane per the 21208(a)(4) rather than being "right hooked".

<return to vacation mode, now jumping out of the forums>
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