Drivers in the bike lane

I like “Mr. Roadshow,” the traffic issues columnist for the San Jose Mercury-News, because he usually gets it on a number of road issues that deal with cyclists and bike facilities.

California bike lane

Take today’s column, for instance, in which a reader asks if drivers can use the bike lane to pass to the right of left-turning motorists. Mr Roadshow answers:

Drivers can pull into a bike lane to make a RIGHT turn as much as 200 feet from an intersection when it is safe to do so if there are no signs or pavement markings prohibiting it. But motorists cannot pull into a bike lane to weave around another vehicle waiting to make a left turn. That is a big no-no.

I’ve seen some real humdingers from traffic columnists from other newspapers around the nation, so I’m glad we have somebody who’s well informed. On the occasions he does get it wrong and maybe fails to address nuances that are important to cyclists, he always follows up with the input he receives from our very vocal cycling community in Silicon Valley.


  1. I was under the impressions that drivers HAVE TO merge into a bike lane to make a right turn within 200 feet from an intersection (although many do not). To not do so when turning right would mean the motorist is turning across a lane, which is not legal in the CVC. Moving over, close to the curb before turning makes a right-hook collision much less likely, and gives bike riders more room to pass safely on the left if necessary.

  2. Yes, 21209 ALLOWS driving in a bike lane 200 feet before a right turn, and 21717 REQUIRES it.

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