Staying Safe: Turns and Other ManeuversStaying Safe: Turns and Other Maneuvers

It sounds boring, but the key to safety is riding predictably. Which means following the rules of the road. In most situations, you'll want to turn, pass, and change lanes just as you would in your car.

ManueveringChanging lanes
Look behind you for traffic and signal first. Traffic in the lane you want to move into has the right of way. Look back and wait for an opening in traffic before moving over. Start looking for an opportunity to get in the correct lane at least 1 block before the intersection.   

ManueveringChoose the correct lane
Make sure you're in the appropriate lane for your destination. Go straight in a through lane, and don't hang out in a right turn only lane. Drivers expect all the vehicles in the right-turning lane to turn right. Make left turns from the left lane, if there is one, or make it from the left side of the through lane.


Making a left turn
Manuevering Bicycling have two legal options for making left turns:

  • Look behind you for traffic. Then signal and move to the left turn lane or left side of lane.

  • If traffic is very heavy or you feel uncomfortable crossing many lanes to turn left, cross to the other side of the intersection as if you were continuing straight and pull out of traffic. Wait for the light to change again and then continue straight to your destination as if you had come from the street to the right.       

ManueveringPass cars and buses on the left
Vehicles expect faster traffic on their left, so pass on the left and allow at least three feet of clearance. Passing on the right could get you squeezed against the curb if the car or bus pulls over, opens its doors, or makes a right turn.    

Stay out of drivers' blind spots
Keep enough clearance behind trucks and buses so they can see you in their mirrors Wait between motor vehicles at lights or stop signs, not alongside them where drivers may not see you in their mirrors and aren't expecting another vehicle.

Use hand signals
Signal your turns and lane changes so that drivers and other cyclists know what to expect.

Going straight through intersections
If you are in an extra wide right lane or there is likely to be significant traffic turning right, discourage cars from passing you on the left and turning in front of you. Move toward the center or left of the straight-ahead lane as you approach the intersection.

Let other bicyclists know you are going to pass them
Give an audible warning, and pass on their left with enough clearance that they won't be startled and swerve into you or another obstacle.