Right Turns


Anthony also asked:

If a vehicle is stopped at a red light intending to make a right turn and a trailing bicyclist pulls abreast of the car on the right, intending to go straight, who has the right of way? Must the vehicle wait for the bicyclist to proceed or does the bicyclist wait for the car to turn.


Again, assuming a curb and gutter roadway for simplicity.

The stopped motorist may be in violation due to the position of the vehicle.  The vehicle should be as far to the right as is practicable.

s. 316.151 – Required Position and Method of Turning at Intersections

(1)  The driver of a vehicle intending to turn at an intersection shall do so as follows:

(a)  Right turn – Both the approach for a right turn and a right turn shall be made as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway.

This is the case even if a bicycle lane is present between the travel lane and the curb.  The bicycle lane is part of the roadway.  That is the reason a properly striped bicycle lane will change from a solid white line to a dashed line for 50-200 feet from the intersection.  That tells motorists they should move to the far right and cyclists that they are not required to keep right if the intersection is an “unsafe condition”.  Some bike lanes are not correctly striped, leading to confusion.

If the motorist does legally and safely move to the right edge of the roadway ahead of the cyclist, that prevents the bicyclist from moving to the right of the vehicle.  If that is the case, the cyclist should wait safely behind the other vehicle.   The best position for the cyclist is in the travel lane directly behind the turning vehicle.  That prevents a “right hook” by another overtaking vehicle.

When the light changes, whether or not there is a bike lane does not affect the requirements of the motor vehicle operator in the illegal position and the cyclist when they both start moving.  If the motor vehicle is faster than the cyclist, it becomes an overtaking and passing situation.  Bicyclist, just as any other overtaken vehicle, has the right of way and the driver of the  motor vehicle must wait until it is safe to turn.  The following statutes apply:

s. 316.083 – Overtaking and Passing a Vehicle

(1)  The driver of a vehicle overtaking another vehicle proceeding in the same direction shall … pass to the left thereof at a safe distance, and shall not again drive to the right side of the roadway until safely clear of the overtaken vehicle … The driver of a vehicle overtaking a bicycle … must pass the bicycle … at a safe distance of not less than 3 feet between the vehicle and the bicycle.

s. 316.085 – Limitations on Overtaking, Passing, Changing Lanes and Changing Course

(2)  No vehicle shall be driven from a direct course … until the driver has determined that the vehicle is not being approached or passed by any other vehicle in the lane or on the side to which the driver desires to move and that move can be completely made with safety and without interfering with the safe operation of any vehicle approaching from the same direction.

s. 316.155 – When Signal Required

No person may turn a vehicle from a direct course or move right or left upon a highway unless and until such movement can be made with reasonable safety…

2 Comments on “Right Turns

  1. The question implies that the cyclist knows that the car intends to turn right. Most Florida motorists do not know how to legally perform a right turn. A prudent vehicular cyclist who knows the car intends to turn right won’t pull up abeam of the car. Further, even in this instance, if the cyclist doesn’t know if the car plans to turn right but the lane allows either straight ahead or a right turn, the best course of action is to stop behind the car.

    You can be dead right and dead too.

  2. I would pull in behind the car. If you know the car is turning right then you should let the car turn before going straight. I would say that you are in the wrong if you pull up on the right, the driver doesn’t expect anyone to be there.

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