Did you know about coloured bicycle lanes?

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Our last “Did you know?” article invited a lot of queries from members about potential situations that could stem from a car indicating to turn left having right of way. This week, we investigated riding in a green painted bike lane while making use of bike riding facilities in Canberra.

We received a query from a member as to whether they would have to give way to a left turning vehicle, if they were riding in a green painted bike lane while using the Civic Cycle Loop.

We approached our partner legal firm Snedden, Hall and Gallop for advice, and are pleased to report:

“Coloured bicycle lanes at intersections are to remind motorists that this section of the roadway is a travel lane for bicycle riders. The marking highlights the existence of the ‘bicycle lane’ to motorists and the ‘right of way’ legally provided to the cyclist by a ‘bicycle lane’. Therefore, where you see a bicycle lane and particularly a green coloured area at an intersection, be on the lookout for cyclists. If a cyclist is in the bicycle lane, motorists must give way.”

It's important to note the above law does not override the more crucial road rule that any road user must give way to a vehicle in front of them which has indicated to turn. So if a rider is approaching a section of green lane (or anywhere else for that matter) and a car in front of the rider is indicating a turn which will take it across the rider's path, the rider must give way to the car.

We hope this information will help put some riders at ease, and further encourage them to utilise facilities such as the Civic Cycle Loop.

If there’s a road rule you would like to check in relation to how cars and bike riders interact, or you believe you’ve uncovered an anomaly in the law, please email your query to advocacy@pedalpower.org.au.


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1 Comment

  1. Tony Nairn 23/06/2016 at 10:51 AM - 

    This seems like a road rule that is designed to cause crashes. If I am in a bike lane riding past a line of stationary or slow moving cars, any vehicle that flicks on their left turn indicator suddenly has right of way and I’m in the wrong when I crash into them because I don’t have time to react. This very thing happened to me on Northbourne Avenue late last year (a few weeks after the ‘vulnerable road users law and safe passing distance trial started), only I’m not sure that the car bothered to indicate; it just did a sharp left turn into a driveway out of a line of stopped traffic.
    I would have thought that a car turning across another lane of traffic should have to give way to traffic in that lane, even if it is a bike lane, just like entering or crossing any other traffic lane. I’m pretty sure the ACT Government’s own info on bike lanes used to say this, a few years ago (along with the warning to watch out because cars might not observe the right away and bikes will come off second best), and their advice has now changed to the ‘cars have right of way’ stated above.

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