Two-Way Turn Lanes: Enter Early at Your Own Risk

The in basket;Jan Klineburger e-mailed the Road Warrior in July to ask about the rules for using a two-way turn lane to pass traffic in order to reach a designated left-turn lane at an intersection.

Three members of her church had been ticketed the week before for using the two-way lane on Highway 305 to bypass backed-up highway traffic to get to where they wanted to turn left — onto Lincoln Avenue, she said.


The in basket;Jan Klineburger e-mailed the Road Warrior in July to ask about the rules for using a two-way turn lane to pass traffic in order to reach a designated left-turn lane at an intersection.

Three members of her church had been ticketed the week before for using the two-way lane on Highway 305 to bypass backed-up highway traffic to get to where they wanted to turn left — onto Lincoln Avenue, she said.
“On Highway 305, you drive in the middle turning lane to get to the designated left-turn lane at the light on Lincoln,” she said. “I wait until I can see the light and see that the lane is clear.”
The same thing happens going the other way, she said. “I have seen cars enter this turning lane mid-hill going toward Highway 3, wanting to turn left into Albertsons shopping center.”
She also cited Trigger Avenue at its entrance into the Bangor Navy base as an example of the same thing. Traffic can back up from the base gate, keeping would-be turners from reaching the left-turn pocket and traffic signal unless they pull into the center lane.
“I remembered reading your column about the left-turn lane in Silverdale by Albertsons on Bucklin Hill,” Jan wrote. “I didn’t know if Poulsbo had different rules, and I also drive slowly past the waiting cars in the through lane to turn left onto Lincoln, as do many other cars. I thought it was legal but with three separate people getting tickets … I would like to know for certain.”

The out basket: The rules in Silverdale apply at both 305 and Lincoln, and on Trigger Avenue at Old Frontier. You can legally go no farther than 300 feet in a two-way center turn lane.

If the line of cars keeping you from reaching your left-turn lane is longer than 300 feet, it leaves you with a tough choice: Wait for the main line to creep within 300 feet of the turn pocket, or use the center lane in violation of the law.

I had to ask the county about the Trigger Avenue center lane, which has neither pavement arrows nor signs making the purpose of the center lane clear. Doug Bear of Kitsap County Public Works said the striping makes it a two-way turn lane even without the arrows.
Sgt. Bill Playter of Poulsbo police said he doesn’t recall a rash of this type of citation around July. The citing officers might even have been county deputies or state troopers.

But he can’t offer any blanket amnesty to those who might want to try it on Highway 305 approaching Lincoln, he said. It’s within the citing officer’s discretion as to when to write such a ticket, he said.

“It all depends on what’s happening at the time,” he said.

3 thoughts on “Two-Way Turn Lanes: Enter Early at Your Own Risk

  1. Remember, officers don’t give tickets because they should. They give them because they can. Revenue revenue revenue. Item: new video cameras for intersections, city/county calls them revenue neutral and then references increased income in the same story. Yeah, it’s about safety.

  2. Travis,

    Reading the out basket, I get the impression that you are telling people that it is okay to travel in the two-way center turn lane to pass stopped traffic if you go less than 300 feet. This is incorrect. The statute (RCW 46.61.290) prohibits passing any vehicles while traveling in the two way center turn lane. The 300 foot restriction is a separate offense.

    Dana

  3. I received a verbal (Whew! Lucky!) warning from a Poulsbo police officer for driving past the 20 or 25 cars in the through lane in order to be in line for the left turn arrow at Highway 305 and Lincoln. There is an opening in the striping, and he indicated that as the appropriate point for entering the turn lane to turn on Lincoln. If the opening were further back down the hill – say, just past the fire station – then, that would be the appropriate point for entering that lane.

    I would like to see the striping changed, as there are no other places to turn left or right between Liberty Road and Lincoln. That would solve part of the backup problem, I think.

Leave a Reply to Drake Stern Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Before you post, please complete the prompt below.

(Not a trick question) What color is the pink house?