There is one situation in Bonn, Germany, where the buses have their own lane (right one) and the cars are separate (left lane). The cars have a regular traffic light (red, yellow, green) and the buses have their special kind (white bars, and |). It looks like this:

enter image description here

The interesting thing is that the cyclist are supposed to take the bus lane, so they are on the right lane. One can see that right after the traffic light there is a dashed line parallel to the road that marks the bike area on the road.

The traffic light obviously aids the buses and cars merge again to a single lane. As a cyclist, I am not really sure what to do:

  1. I could abide the car traffic light. It is the traffic light that I have been taught to read in school (elementary school, actually) and is the official one for car drivers as well. However, when the car traffic light is green, I have a harder time merging with the cars.

  2. Use the bus traffic light because it is in my lane. It make also most sense since the traffic light is for merging the two lanes. But I cannot really read the traffic light, I just assume that the three lights correspond to red, yellow, and green. If a bus was right behind me, he would have to pass me if I waited for the car traffic light to switch to green again. This doesn't make any sense, I should just free up the bus/bike lane.

  3. Ignore both lights. In every case I can just slowly merge with the car lane as I see fit. Usually one of the lights is on “Go”.

Every time I pass this place, I am a bit uneasy whether I am doing the right thing. I just carefully watch for traffic and merge with the car lane when there aren't any cars around. I'd like to know what the correct behavior for this situation would be.

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    Have you checked a copy of the local traffic regulations? Most places (at least in the US) have something you can find online or at the Department of Motor Vehicles.
    – Batman
    Commented Nov 25, 2016 at 22:56
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    From what I see, the road rules in Germany are defined federally. On my reading, they make very little mention of bicycles, and certainly not this situation (they seem to say "follow the signs"). The simple solution is to ask a local police officer, especially one with traffic enforcement duties.
    – andy256
    Commented Nov 26, 2016 at 8:17
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    At least under Dutch traffic rules, article 70 the bus lane lights apply to anyone using that lane. Since European traffic rules are pretty much synchronised under the Vienna Convention, I'd assume the same holds in Germany. However, I'd say that this is really an ambiguous situation that shouldn't exist in the first place. Commented Nov 26, 2016 at 13:41

3 Answers 3


I received an answer from the traffic guidance department of the city. They told that I can either ride on the car lane (left) and then use the regular car traffic lane. If I take the bus lane (right), I do not have to stop at any light at all.

There is no cycle traffic light on the right post because cyclists on the car lane then might interpret that as their light for the left lane as well and get in conflict with a bus on the bus lane.

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    Thanks for posting the answer! They really ought to put up a sign explaining that. It doesn't seem at all obvious, to me. Commented Dec 1, 2016 at 11:37
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    They wrote that they will break white line at the traffic light that is perpendicular to the street such that the bike lane is exempt from the light. If they put of a sign on the right side, it would have to state that it only is for the right lane. All in all I think you cannot do too much wrong in either lane. If you are in the bus lane, you can just ride any time. Commented Dec 1, 2016 at 11:45
  • After visiting that place I see that there is nothing dangerous about lack of bicycle traffic lights. Despite strange at first, their effort against overregulation should be appreciated.
    – krzyski
    Commented Dec 2, 2016 at 10:54

If you're required to be in the bus lane, then the signals for that lane would apply. Otherwise you could be stopped waiting for the other signal and holding up a bus.

For a cannonical answer, please refer to the local traffic regulations. They're totally in German though.

When you find the accurate answer, please do post it here for future searchers.

  • 1
    I am German, so I could read the regulations. Their are in legalese, so that makes it hard. And I fear it will be very hard to track down something that tells me something for this particular situation. I send an email to the city traffic administration, I'll post the answer when I get it. Commented Nov 26, 2016 at 8:50

In my opinion, the most reasonable option is to comply to what "bus traffic lights".

BUT, I think this junction lacks bike traffic lights. enter image description here

Because, according to law, that is compliant with Vienna Convention on Road Traffic, that "white" signalizer on the right side of bus lane is: "light signals for buses and other vehicles performing payable passenger transport on regular lines", what, obviously, does not apply to bicycles. I'm not sure if in Germany a cyclist is obliged to know what particulat signals at bus traffic lights means.

  • 1
    Turns out that cyclist are special in this junction and that the lack of the cycle traffic light is on purpose, see my answer. Commented Dec 1, 2016 at 9:56

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