Who has the right of way when I approach an intersection on my bike, and the car next to me wants to turn right?
Ever since you decided to be more environmentally conscious and ride your bike to work, you’ve almost been killed on four separate occasions. The last one, which occurred this morning, you swore you saw your life pass before your eyes along with the SUV. You were approaching the intersection at Pennsylvania Avenue and 13th Street when a Ford Escape pulled up on your left side. As the light turned green and you started to pedal into the intersection, the SUV suddenly and without any warning turned right in front of you, missing your front tire by a mere six inches.
You squeezed your brakes just in time to avoid the collision. Although you were stopped halfway through the intersection, trying to keep yourself from having a heart attack, the SUV didn’t even slow down as it continued down 13th.
Seriously, what is wrong with people? Didn’t you have the right of way?The Rights of Turning Right at an Intersection
Turning is one of the most dangerous actions a driver can perform; there are so many factors and directions in which potential dangers can arise, that according to a NHTSA (National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration) report on intersection accidents, over two million crashes a year occur as a result of improper turning at intersections. This is why it is extremely important to know who has the right of way, no matter if you’re a bicyclist, motorist or pedestrian.
When turning right, a motorist must always yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk as well as bicyclists in the bike lane. Always make sure you check sidewalks, crosswalks, and bike lanes before turning right, especially when turning on a red light.
When riding straight across an intersection, a biker has the right of way as soon as the light turns green. If the car to his left wishes to turn right, the vehicle must wait for the bike to pass before attempting the turn, just as he would have to wait for a pedestrian in the crosswalk. However, just because the biker has the legal right of way, doesn’t mean the driver in the car next to him knows he is there. Always take proper precautions in these situations.
When a bicyclist is turning right, he can turn as soon as he is legally able; however, he must also yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk, just as a motorist would have to yield.
Although drivers should always stop and yield to pedestrians when they see them, pedestrians don’t always have the legal right of way. They do, however, have the right of way at intersections as long as they are crossing at a crosswalk in accordance with the pedestrian signal light. When a bike or vehicle is attempting to turn, it must yield right of way to the crossing pedestrian.
Bicycling can be a very fun and exhilarating activity and form of transportation, as long as you’re aware of and execute the proper rules of the road and safety precautions. Remember, even though you may have the right of way, a collision will always do more damage to you than to the motorist who didn’t have the right of way. Always use your best judgment when approaching, crossing, or turning in an intersection, even when you think you’re clear, to avoid a tragic accident.
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