Dashed Lines at Intersections – What to Do

Bike Lane Intersection Image
Dashed lines at intersections seems counter intuitive to new bicyclists

It seems counter intuitive to dash bike lanes at intersections. This is where bicyclists need protection from motorists making right turns into them. New riders can be perplexed by this seeming lack of consideration from regional transport planners.

If you think that the dashed lines only encourage motorists to merge into the bike lanes prior to making their right turns, then you’re correct. Cars in the bike lanes is exactly what’s encouraged. Nominally, bike lanes segregate traffic. But in this case, it facilitates an (hopefully) orderly merge.

The reason for the merge is that all vehicles, including bikes, must use the right most lane to make right turns. Bike lanes on the extreme right do not change this requirement. Bicyclists should understand that they have a responsibility to stay safe and keep others safe at these traffic crossover points.

The merging vehicle has to find a safe way into the lane prior to making the turn, then merge, and turn. As a cyclist in this lane, you should realize that:

  1. They should block your progress while making this turn. It’s safer.
  2. Not all motorists will merge into the bike lane prior to turning
  3. It’s unsafe to pass a car occupying the bike lane or in the automobile lane at the intersection

While dashed lines are a nice reminder that traffic is merging, don’t let your guard down in traffic without a bike lane. Any intersection has the same requirement for vehicle right turns. I usually won’t pass the two lead cars in a long traffic line if they are waiting at a traffic light, dashed line or not. And don’t forget that their turn signals may not truly reflect their intentions either.

One problem I have with Waterloo Region cycling infrastructure is it’s haphazard implementation. Only a few hundred meters away, the bike lanes are not dashed at intersections. Does anyone know why two intersections might have such implementation?

Maybe they were laid down at different times with different plans, or maybe the road painter ran low on white?

3 thoughts on “Dashed Lines at Intersections – What to Do

  1. On busier roads, bike lanes end 10-30 metres before the intersection. Going past side streets we have the dashed lines.
    Although I have some what adapted to such things, they still drive me up a wall.
    I see daily from my window, people who are turning right merging into the bike lane.

    I like what Montréal has done to some streets.


    And of course, what can you say about Copenhagen:
    Intersection Friends*

    1. I thought the purpose of the lines was to allow motorists to merge into the bike lane. Isn’t it safer that the car blocks a passing cyclist while making a right?

      At least, I thought that’s why they were dashed.

      1. I figured they don’t have a solid line right across because most solid lines you can’t technically cross, and some people are really clueless about things like this so it limits the confusion…Then again I see so many people passing on solid lines so I guess that wouldn’t matter.

        As for people merging in the bike lane? I think it also depends. Many times people will make a right hand turn forcing me to brake because they cut right in front of me thinking they have enough time/room, when they could have easily waited.

        Having cars using the bike lane as a turning lane essentially, won’t help new cyclists confidence either.

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