Driver Right Turn - California Bicycle Coalition

Driver Right Turn

Understanding the risks

As you approach an intersection or driveway, a driver heading the same direction passes you on your left and suddenly makes a right turn in front of you, with or without signaling.
The same thing can happen on a one-way street where you’re riding on the left side of the street and a driver on your right makes a left turn in front of you.

Knowing your options

When you’re traveling straight ahead, the law allows you to avoid an area where right turns are made.
On a road where the shoulder is marked with a stripe (not a bike lane), you can ride on the shoulder but you’re not required to do so.

Using the 5 skills

These are the skills you use to reduce the risk of a driver making a right turn in front of you:

Handling

  • You can ride in a straight line without wobbling.
  • When preparing to move left or right, you can look back over your shoulder without swerving.
  • You can give a hand signal without swerving.
  • You can slow or stop quickly without losing control of your bike.

Cooperation

  • When approaching a right-turn lane, you ride in the center of the lane if you’re making a right turn or you move to the next lane to your left if you’re riding straight ahead through the intersection. If that lane is an “option” lane (straight ahead + right turn), you ride in the center of it to keep others from trying to make unsafe turns around you.
  • You check around you and signal before changing lanes or moving into the path of any other vehicle (including other bicycles).

Positioning

  • When approaching an intersection or driveway where a right turn is permitted, you check behind you for anyone who might pass and turn in front of you.
  • You slow down when approaching an intersection or driveway where a car is waiting or already moving, especially if the driver isn’t required to stop (e.g., at a 2-way stop or an uncontrolled intersection).
  • When riding through an intersection, you ride within the lane in a position that tells a driver that you intend to ride through and not make a turn.
  • If making a right turn, you signal and ride in the center of the right lane as you make the turn.

Responsiveness

  • You check cars that pass you when approaching a place where right turns can be made, looking for a right turn signal.
  • If a driver passes you and begins to turn right in front of you, you decide whether to slow down, make a “quick stop”*, or make an “instant turn”* to the right to avoid a collision. (You decide in that order.) In preparing to make an “instant turn”, you scan to your right to ensure that you have a safe place to turn into. In a “quick stop”, you stop your bike safely in the shortest possible distance by using both brakes, if possible, and shifting your weight back on the seat. You can learn these skills in a bicycle safety class led by a certified instructor.

Protection

  • You know your helmet and gloves will prevent or reduce injuries in case of a fall.

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