Right Turn Lanes


Frank asked:

1.  If I’m riding on the road (no bicycle lane and as far to the right as practicable) and a right hand turn lane comes up.  Do I ride on the left of the solid line of the right turn lane, or the right of the solid line?

2.  What if there is a bicycle lane to the right of the right turn lane? Do I go in it or do one of the above?

3.  Also, if there are cars in both the through lane and the right turn lane, waiting for the light to change to green, do I stop behind all of them or pedal up to the light in between the cars (of the through and right turn lane)


1.  If you are planning to turn right, you must use the right-turn lane.  If you are proceeding straight through, you must use the through lane.  Your position in the lane depends on other factors.  If remaining to the right is unsafe, the bicycle regulations allow leaving the right side of the lane.

2.  If proceeding straight through an intersection, remaining in the bike lane that is incorrectly positioned to the right of a right turn only lane is an  “unsafe condition” of the bicycle regulations that allows cyclists to leave the bike lane.

3.  Although there may be times when passing on the right may be legal, it is not recommended at approaches to intersections.  Please see this post for proper road position and safe cycling practices.


Remaining in the right-side bike lane when approaching the intersection when side-by-side right-turning traffic is present is dangerous, and leaving the bike lane seems to be justified under the unsafe conditions provision of 316.2065(5)(a)3.  Cyclists are never required to remain in a bike lane or at the right side of the roadway if it is unsafe.

5 Comments on “Right Turn Lanes

  1. I’m unsure of the legalities on this myself, however, I sometimes spit the turn and through lanes and proceed to the front of the line at intersections. Occasionally I split two through lanes to do so, with great caution so as not to get doored or mirrored. I figure I’m really staying out of the way and sometimes make it to the light, or close to it, as it changes. I figure this is misunderstood but, even if it’s annoying it’s safer than waiting 20 cars back for the light to change, which I may not make. Another thing I do is make righthand turns in front of cars where they have to see me instead of being driven into the curb by someone who is only looking to their left. Besides being potentially annoying, am I breaking any laws that I should be aware of?

  2. I would have to disagree with Geo on the last point about using the bike lane to the right of the right turn only lane.

    While the cyclist is also turning, the inside turning radius of the motor vehicles could still pose a problem, especially if the lane on the intersecting roadway is narrow. The motorist is slowing to turning speed anyway, so the cyclist using the turn lane poses no real delay.

    And one should never pass a large truck on the right, no matter what the situation.

  3. Mighk: Keri separately reported the same, and I agree. I have amended the post accordingly.

    Droobieinop: Straddling the lane line to get ahead of other traffic is dangerous and unlawful. It also places you in the position of being overtaken and passed by the drivers you just ticked off when the light changes. The inconvenience of missing the light is not sufficient justification. I cannot imagine how remaining in a line of stopped traffic to wait your turn would be less safe than what you propose.

    The exception would be when overtaking on the right is allowed, as in this statute.

    s. 316.084 – When Overtaking on the Right is Permitted
    (1) The driver of a vehicle may overtake and pass on the right of another vehicle only under the following conditions:
    (b) Upon a street or highway with unobstructed pavement not occupied by parked vehicles of sufficient width for two or more lines of moving traffic in each direction ….

    Such a lane would be wide enough for safe side-by-side travel.

    If you are in a properly installed bike lane, there is no legal restriction to passing on the right but extreme caution should be exercised when doing so, particularly when approaching an intersection.

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