While riding in the bike lane on a four lane street in Northern California, a car passed me on my left, stopped in the right-hand lane twenty to thirty feet ahead of me, and signaled to turn right into a parking lot driveway.

Who has the right of way in this situation? Am I required to stop in the bike lane and let the car turn across my lane, or is the car required to wait until it is safe to turn?

Note: I'm specifically asking about California law but encourage answers for all jurisdictions. While safety and biking defensively is important, my question is only concerned with the law. There is a similar question regarding cars turning right at an intersection, but none of the answers address driveways.

  • 2
    As noted below, he's effectively making a right turn from a lane other than the far-right lane -- illegal in virtually all jurisdictions. Sep 13, 2012 at 23:07
  • 3
    As a matter of legality, in every jurisdiction I am aware of, the motorist is at fault in this kind of accident. As a matter of practicality and safety, I don't care who is at fault. I just want to avoid the accident. Yielding to a turning automobile is smarter than asserting your right to blame them when they hit you.
    – zenbike
    Sep 14, 2012 at 3:28
  • 2
    I agree with @zenbike. It doesn't matter who's right in the case, because the cyclist always loses. Unless you are very sure that the car sees you and is going to wait before turning in front of you, you should probably assume that they are going to turn in front of you, and act accordingly.
    – Kibbee
    Sep 14, 2012 at 13:55
  • 2
    If you were in a car behind a semi-trailer that was signalling a wide right turn would you try and sneak down the right while he turns? No... you would change lanes and pass him on the left or wait for him to complete his right turn. Why should it be any different just because you're on a bike? Bike lanes confuse motorists because they know they shouldn't be driving in them yet drivers haven't been fully informed how to deal with them when attempting to cross them. Think about when the majority of drivers wrote their road tests and then ask how long bike lanes have been around. Sep 17, 2012 at 18:50

4 Answers 4


Regardless of who has legal right of way, Toronto tells cyclists to avoid passing cars on the right, and especially when the car might turn right.

enter image description here

Car-bike collisions and tips to avoid them

  • 1
    I accepted this answer because—while technically the cyclist does have the right of way—it gave the safest advice in that situation: Assume the driver is trying to kill you and go around. Nov 28, 2017 at 3:50

California Vehicle Code section 21717: Turning Across Bicycle Lane states that cars are required to enter the bike lane before turning.

Whenever it is necessary for the driver of a motor vehicle to cross a bicycle lane that is adjacent to his lane of travel to make a turn, the driver shall drive the motor vehicle into the bicycle lane prior to making the turn and shall make the turn pursuant to Section 22100.

  • 1
    This is true for most places with bike lanes, cars should first merge into the bike lane prior to making the turn. I wish more people realized this as it also makes lot of sense. The car is claiming the space needed and declaring their actions. Any approaching cyclist will need to slow/stop and wait for the lane to clear. This is much safer than the driver trying to cross the bike lane and make the right turn all in one go, as this could lead to a "right hook" if the driver doesn't see the approaching cyclist or misjudges the speed of an approaching cyclist.
    – Rider_X
    Oct 26, 2017 at 3:44

In Australia at least, a cyclist in a bike lane has right of way over a car which is crossing the bike lane:

Coloured bicycle lanes at intersections are to remind motorists that this section of the roadway is a travel lane for bicycle riders. The marking highlights the existence of the ‘bicycle lane’ to motorists and the ‘right of way’ legally provided to the cyclist by a ‘bicycle lane’. Therefore, where you see a bicycle lane and particularly a green coloured area at an intersection, be on the lookout for cyclists. If a cyclist is in the bicycle lane, motorists must give way.

http://www.tams.act.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0011/64478/Road_Rules_2012_Part_C1.pdf - page 31

I think this includes both cars turning on the intersection or entering driveways.


75 Giving way when entering a road-related area or adjacent land from a road ($114 fine)

(1) A driver entering a road-related area or adjacent land from a place on a road without traffic lights or a stop sign, stop line, give way sign or give way line must give way to:

(a) any pedestrian on the road; and

(b) any vehicle or pedestrian on any road-related area that the driver crosses or enters; and

(c) if the driver is turning right from the road - any oncoming vehicle on the road that is going straight ahead or turning left;

(d) if the road the driver is leaving ends at a T-intersection opposite the road-related area or adjacent land and the driver is crossing the continuing road - any vehicle on the continuing road.

Which means you'd have a right of way even if you were wheeling your bike on the footpath (or riding on the footpath where it is legal).

  • 1
    Note: Australia drive on the left... ''(c) if the driver is turning right'... now makes sense to everyone.
    – mattnz
    Sep 13, 2012 at 23:38
  • The question is specifically about California law. Sep 14, 2012 at 0:26
  • 5
    To quote: "I'm specifically asking about California law but encourage answers for all jurisdictions."
    – Sergey
    Sep 14, 2012 at 1:17

The question was specifically about legality. The cyclist has the right of way in Oregon, whether there is a dedicated bike lane or not, as long as the cyclist is on the far right of the road. I believe the same is true in California. My answer is about a car turning into a driveway, residential or a business, not about turns at a light.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.