Bicycle Network: Behaviour
Turning left: don't be left confused
"The rider of a bicycle must not ride past, or overtake, to the left of a vehicle that is turning left and is giving a left change of direction signal.” Sound simple enough? As Emma Clark finds out, it’s not that straightforward.
Bike riders have a unique right to overtake on the left of cars in most situations, but there is an important exception that all riders should be aware of. According to national road safety rules, if a car is indicating and turning left, a bike rider cannot overtake on their left, and must let the car turn first, even though it may be cutting across a bike lane.
The rule is particularly relevant to city riding, as long lines of cars indicating that they will be turning left can form at busy intersections. The question then arises; is a bike rider legally able to pass all these indicating cars, and if so, who should they give way to?
The key here is in the two conditions required of the car; not only must it be indicating, it must also be in the act of turning; merely an indication they will be turning left further up the road does not prevent you overtaking them.
But there is a complication. Arty Lavos, Victorian Police State Bicycle Co-ordinator, told Ride On that once the leading vehicle in the line begins to turn left, you cannot pass it, even if it subsequently stops the turn because a line of pedestrians are preventing it going any further. Because it has begun turning left, and is indicating it is turning left, you cannot overtake on its left.
And as it finally turns left and the other cars in the stream follow on, you must give way to all those cars that are turning also.
This article appeared in the December-January 2010/11 issue of Ride On magazine.
For the full article, Bicycle Network Victoria members can log into Blink and access the Ride On library.