About bike lanes with dotted lines

The in basket: Mike McDermott of Poulsbo wrote in late July saying, “Driving north on Silverdale Way, coming down the hill towards the intersection where it turns into Viking Way (at Luoto Road), the shoulder (bike lane) curves to the right to make way for a right-turn lane near the gas station.

“A cyclist was in the bike lane, and if he wants to continue straight through the intersection he has to cross the solid shoulder line to enter the lane going straight, while I, in a car wanting to turn right at the intersection, simply follow the road as it curves to the right, without crossing any lines to be in the right-turn lane.

“The cyclist was just in front of me in the bike lane, and I saw the potential for an accident should he want to continue going straight, so I stayed behind him until I knew what he was going to do. Sure enough, without any indication he was changing lanes, he crossed the solid shoulder line to continue straight. Had I not considered the potential for an accident, we would have collided.

“Who would have been at fault and why?” Mike asked. “He crossed a solid line, while I crossed none.”

The out basket: It’s a helpful question, as a new kind of bike lane alignment has shown up here, on Viking Way at Finn Hill Road in Poulsbo and on Sheridan Road at Wheaton Way in Bremerton. There may be other places I haven’t noticed.

In those two places, a passage marked by a dotted line provides a path for bicyclists on the shoulder to reach a narrow lane between the through lane and the right turn lane.

But that’s not the alignment where Mike had his experience, and the answer to his question is pretty straight forward.

Deputy Scott Wilson, spokesman for Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office, says, “The motor vehicle has the right of way in this scenario. The bicyclist would have to yield to all other traffic, traveling in same direction/lane of travel, prior to entering the roadway to cross the intersection.

“It’s the same as if a car was stopped on the shoulder and the driver wanted to re-enter back onto the roadway,” Scott said. “The driver has to wait until traffic is clear and it’s safe to enter back onto the roadway before proceeding.

“If there had been a collision between Mr. McDermott and the bicyclist, the bicyclist would have been found at fault for causing the collision,” said Scott.

But what about those two spots and any others where a dotted lines indicates a path for bicyclists to get from the shoulder to inside the right turn lane.

The answer is different there.

Sgt. Andy Pate of Poulsbo Police says, “The bike lane you are referring (to) is a designated bike lane by the city. Due to the right-turn-only lane on northbound Viking, the city positioned the bicycle lane across the right-turn-only lane for through bicycle traffic.

“This ‘crossing’ of the bicycle lane is treated similar to a crosswalk or a lane change. Motorists must yield to bicyclist that has entered their lane of travel using the bicycle lane to cross, just as they would a pedestrian or bicycle crossing at a crosswalk.

“However, there is a ‘due care and caution’ (duty) that must be exercised by the operator of the bicycle. They are not allowed to enter/cross the right-turn-only lane of travel suddenly or in such a way that an overtaking vehicle could not safely slow or stop for them to cross.

“The bicycle lane does not give either motorist or bicyclist exclusive right of way, both must yield to the lead vehicle to end in an orderly flow of traffic,” Andy said.

Lt. Pete Fisher, head of Bremerton police traffic division, says the rules are the same at the Sheridan-Wheaton alignment.

8 thoughts on “About bike lanes with dotted lines

  1. This is why bike lanes create more problems than they solve. Bike lanes actually cause accidents. Bicycles should be in the traffic lanes, behaving like regular traffic. Then there would be no question as to expected behavior, right of way, or anything else.

  2. If the bicyclist “takes the lane”, that is, rides to the left of the fog line (white line at the right side of the road), he can continue straight ahead through the intersection without crossing any lines. When I ride through that intersection, I ride to the right of the fog line (on the shoulder) down the hill from Silverdale but cross over to the left side of the fog line before I reach the gas station. That gives any car behind me advanced notice that I am going to continue straight and not turn right toward Keyport.

  3. Steve, I do the same thing when I ride through that intersection and in other places where the right turn lane causes similar problems. The intersection that I find the most dangerous for bicyclists is at Viking Way and Finn Hill when wanting to make a left turn coming from Poulsbo to continue south on Viking Way. The center lane of traffic can go straight or turn left. So staying to the right of traffic in that lane could be disastrous. I try to position myself at the head of the line between the two left lanes ensuring the center lane driver knows my intent to proceed left. I feel this intersection could use some help in designating lanes for bikes.

  4. Last month you said this:

    “The out basket: The law that confers to bicyclists the same rights and duties as motorists deviates from that standard to allow bicyclists to ride on the shoulder, which cars aren’t allowed to do.

    So the fact a bike rider is on the shoulder doesn’t change the rules and the rider, if going straight, has the right of way over a turning vehicle.”

    So how come a seeminly opposite answer today?

    A bike rider moving in the same direction is NOT the same as a car parked on the shoulder

    Read more: http://pugetsoundblogs.com/roadwarrior/tag/bicycle/#ixzz0yxkaUqjt

  5. This column is about two specific locations where the rules are different and not about left turners, but right turners. Both locations are controlled by traffic signals, which isn’t true of the Holly Road/Wildcat Lake Road intersection I wrote about a month ago. It ended by saying that signals confer right of way at signalized intersections.

  6. As a cyclist who hasn’t ridden this area, but plans to in the future, is there actually a painted bike lane on the shoulder at this intersection (Silverdale/Viking Way and Luoto)? Or is the driver who asked the original question simply referring to the shoulder as the “bike lane”? I understand the two other areas with a painted bike lanes crossing the right turn lane, but the specific question/answer in this post is confusing. If there is not a painted lane, and it’s just a shoulder, then it would appear to me that the bicyclist was not a fault, particularly if he “took the lane” prior to the beginning of the turn lane. Just because he was on the shoulder doesn’t mean he forgoes all rights as a vehicle traveling on the road. The trailing driver (in this case, the automobile driver who asked the question) has the responsibility to ensure that it is safe to pass the cyclist. As Sgt Pate states (with a simple substitution), “The [shoulder] does not give either motorist or bicyclist exclusive right of way, both must yield to the lead vehicle to end in an orderly flow of traffic.”

    In other words, it’s my understanding that according to state law there’s no difference if the cyclist is one foot to the right or left of the fog line. If there is, then I will no longer ever ride on the shoulder.

    Now, if there is actually a bike lane painted there, I would assume the same thing applies in this case , the trailing vehicle (car) must yield to the leading vehicle (bicycle). So can someone please explain to me how the statement by Deputy Scott Wilson, spokesman for Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office, makes any sense in light of current state laws for bicyclists? He seems to indicate that if I choose to ride on the shoulder then I must yield to all traffic in the adjacent lane. As I stated earlier, if this is how the county sheriffs will be enforcing traffic laws, I’ll ensure that I never ride my bike to the right of the fog line.

  7. I agree with Mary T. about the Viking Way/Finn Hill intersection. It’s a baffling place to turn left, especially since we cyclists are moving much slower than the cars because of the uphill slope. I’d love some clarification about the common practice of filtering (moving up to the light between lanes).

    Kari: there is not a designated bike lane there on Northbound Silverdale Way approaching the Luoto intersection. Just a wide shoulder.

  8. Thanks Julie.

    I guess it’s more evidence that cyclists need to “take the lane” in situations like this. Then there’s no crying by drivers about cyclists crossing a solid white line. And taking the lane removes one excuse for the sheriff to find the cyclist at fault.

    And we need to stop referring to the shoulder as the bike lane, something that Mr. Baker should have pointed out to Mr. McDermott and corrected in the article. Shoulders are not bike lanes.

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