Passing Slower Traffic

Question

Ette asked:  If a cyclist wants to make a left turn from the left turn lane, and straight traffic on the left is slow, may the cyclist pass the traffic on the left to get access to the turn lane, or should he/she wait his/her turn in traffic to safely make it into the turn lane?

Answer

A cyclist is not required to “keep right” or remain in a bike lane when preparing to make a left turn, and may use  the roadway position necessary to accomplish the move safely.  Also, a cyclist may lawfully pass slower traffic, normally passing on the left, if the passing is otherwise effected legally.  Please see the posts about “left turns”, “overtaking and passing” and “lane position” in the tag cloud for full discussion of legal passing.

Posted in Ask Geo, Overtaking & Passing Tagged with: , ,
3 comments on “Passing Slower Traffic
  1. Dwight says:

    As traffic slows on the approach to a red light, some cyclists who want to use a left-turn lane will try to thread from right to left through small gaps between vehicles in the through lanes to reach the LT lane, but it can be a risky maneuver; drivers may not be paying close attention, the light ahead may suddenly turn green, drivers may lurch forward, etc. A cyclist who uses this method hasn’t really “prepared” to make a left turn.

    To “prepare” to make a left turn at a signal on a major road before I’m overtaken by a long wave of traffic arriving from a signal just upstream, I often find I need to begin transitioning left across through lanes 600 hundred feet or more (as measured by my bike computer) in advance of the intersection. If there is a gap in all lanes, I can move to the leftmost lane in a single movement; otherwise, I need to move left lane by lane, as a gap becomes available in each lane. I approach the intersection in the leftmost lane and enter the left-turn lane.

    • Special X says:

      Yeah, I think the OP was hoping to travel in between the lanes while cars are already there.
      In California, you can do that type of thing..
      Here in Florida, you can’t.

  2. Geo says:

    Good points. It should also be noted that the cyclist may use the full lane from which the left turn is to be made while preparing for that turn. See this post:

    http://flbikelaw.org/2010/03/left-turn-by-bicyclist/

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