One of the most dangerous moves for cyclists

We’re going to look at one of the most common accidents between cars and cyclists: The right turn

By Steve Nagle

This week, we’re going to look at one of the most common accidents between cars and cyclists: The right turn.

This is a tricky one and one of the most dangerous moves a cyclist can make. Remember, as a cyclist, you will always come off  worst! There have been many cyclists killed or seriously injured by this move.

So here it is:

Driver:  “When approaching an intersection to turn right, I slow down and signal, but as I do, a cyclist comes from behind me in the bike lane and passes on my right — directly into the path of my turn.”

Who’s at fault?

There are responsibilities placed both on both drivers and cyclists when making right turns. The rules-of-the-road state that when a motor vehicle driver plans to turn right, they must signal and only make the movement when safe to do so, using due care and attention to avoid a collision.

For the turn to be safe, a driver should check for other motor vehicles as well as cyclists and pedestrians who could potentially enter the path of their turn.

However, the cyclist should also follow the law. Passing on the right is allowed only where there is unobstructed pavement for two vehicles to pass. The pass must only be made when safe to do so.

Therefore, a cyclist passing a vehicle ahead that is clearly signaling a right turn – which might block their path at any time – would not be making a “pass in safety.”

Most municipalities follow the Transportation Association of Canada’s guidelines for bicycle lane design.

At an intersection, the solid line of the bicycle lane becomes a dashed line to warn motorists they are crossing into the bicycle lane. The dashed line also serves to alert cyclists that there may be turning vehicles crossing their path.

Defensive driving demands that you always assume the “other guy” may not follow the rules, and act accordingly to protect yourself.

For drivers, this means pausing to check for cyclists passing or approaching from the rear before completing a right turn and for cyclists, this means being prepared to stop if the turning car should move while you’re passing.

But the best option is not to pass on the right at all, but rather stop behind the vehicle, and move forward when the car has completed their right turn, or if safe, swing out and pass on the left.


In Summary:

  • Look ahead for turn signals.
  • Watch out for drivers slowing down in preparation for a right turn.
  • Stay away from the driver’s “blind spot” (near the right rear wheel).
  • DO NOT pass right-turning drivers on the right.
  • That’s it for this week, ride safe.


Steve Nagle can be found at Outdoor Addictions: