It’s important to understand that a bike is considered to be a vehicle motor, or not. That being said, it’s important that motorized vehicles stay out of bike lanes. These are two different types of transportation and they don’t go at the same speed or work in the same fashion. Today, more than ever, more areas are designing bike lanes to help improve the flow of traffic.
At no time, other than to make a right-hand turn, are motorized vehicles allowed to be in a bike lane. Many people mistakenly think that since the lane is there, they can pass another vehicle on the left. This is a very dangerous practice and, it’s against the law.
There are different ways that a bike lane will designate an intersection depending on where you’re located. Some will have dotted lines, others will retain the solid white line that designates a bike lane, and others will stop several feet from the intersection and then start up again after the intersection.
According to the letter of the law, motorized vehicles are to make their right-hand turns from as close to the curb as possible, however, this can present a huge challenge when there is a bike lane and many motorists are failing to check over their right shoulder to ensure that there aren’t any bicyclists coming.
Regardless, it’s up to the motorized vehicle to know where the bike is at and to maintain proper safety procedures at all times. It’s easy to assume that the motorized vehicle has the right-of-way, however, this isn’t the case. Just as a four-way stop works by having the driver on the right go first, the bike has the right-of-way.
Unfortunately, not all motorists understand this so it’s often up to the bicyclist to ensure their safety by keeping an eye on the motorized vehicles. There have been many recorded accidents where a motorized car has turned in front of a bicyclist and caused a serious accident.
As a general rule of thumb, it’s wise to regard all traffic as you would like them to regard you. Common respect and courtesy dictate that you use caution at all times when making a right-hand turn and there is a bike lane. If there is a bicyclist coming, stop with a turn signal on and wait for them to pass unless it is safe to pass before they arrive at the intersection.
Safety rules and guidelines should be followed at all times when driving a motorized vehicle.