Those Invasive Dashed Bicycle Lanes Before Intersections

[See my Comment at the bottom]

Every time I ride my bicycle around Cupertino I encounter these dashed bicycle lane markings starting about 50 feet before every intersections where bicycle lanes exist permitting cars to share the bicycle lanes I often feel offended a casual cyclist.  It clearly says to car drivers that they are allowed to share what little space we cyclist have on the road.  If I were to ride my bicycle in the car lane cars would beep their horn at me.  The greatest insult is when dashed bicycle lanes occur at intersections where there is not enough room for a car making a right turn to legally form an extra turn lane this signaling to them that it is okey to intrude into the bicycle lane even though there is no advantage to them in doing so.  So such dashed lanes before all intersections where painted bicycle lanes exist are often pointless, unnecessary, and can be dangerous to cyclists.

Cyclists already have issues with motorist who cut them off while making right turns, the infamous ‘Right Hook’, which account for a large number of accident between motorists and cyclists.  Ethan Wong, a young teenager cycling to school late last year was killed by a large truck preparing to make such a right turn.  Roads in our city clearly signal to drivers that cars own the roads while bicycles are an simply an afterthought.  Such dashed bicycle lanes prior to all intersections including neighborhood roads along busy school routes such as on Bubb Road and McClellan Rd., in the area where the fatal accident happened last year, still exist.  The only improvement the city has made since the tragedy are green bicycle lanes where the green pain is broken up before each intersection and elsewhere still indicating that cars can occupy the same space as bicycles even when there is no room to legally form a separate turn lane.  Granted one notable improvement the city made is the buffer double white lines separated by about 2 ft. along some of our streets making cyclists such as me feel safer.  But even these disappear 50 ft. before intersections signifying that cars still own the road space that should belong the bicycles.

I feel that since cars and bicycles share the same roads that such dash bicycle lanes be reserved for the busiest street intersections where there is room to legally form a separate car turn lane.  Less busy streets should also have solid bicycle lanes before intersections even if wide enough to form a turn lane because forming a separate lane serves no purpose other than endangering cyclists.

It is my personal opinion that bicycles should have their own bicycle lanes during right turns that cars cannot intrude.  Cars can easily making wider right turns so why not make streets safer for bicycles?  There is no reason they should be permitted to intrude on bicycle space unless there is no room for both to exist separately.  This would vastly reduce Right Hooks and save lives and limbs. Until the city makes it clear that cyclist have equal rights to our roads and stops sending subtle signals to vehicle drivers that they own the road cars will continue to own the roads simply because they are larger and overwhelmingly more intimidating than bicycles.  Bicycles were riding on streets long before cars (see Reference links at bottom).

Most certainly many seasoned cyclist ride towards the middle of car lanes at intersections to make themselves more visible to cars.  But I as a casual cyclist need a curb to stand on at signal lights and must stay to the extreme right in the blind spot for many motorist so I am exposed to cars moving into my bicycle lane making a right turn and not seeing me.  As a casual cyclist this can be very scary and intimidating.  For other potentail casual cyclist this can be a show stopper discouraging them from riding our streets.  We need to encourage more cycling in Cupertino.  So such needless bicycle markings should be eliminated and such practice stopped.

Dashed bicycle lanes before intersections should be used sparingly and with purpose.  Placing them arbitrarily at every intersection where bicycle lanes are painted is pointless and potentially dangerous.  Please city of Cupertino, consider stopping this practice.  Send the message to motorists that bicycles have more rights to their bicycle lanes than do cars. Have mercy on we casual and less experienced cyclists.  I am a senior and less able to navigate our roads as do many advanced and seasoned cyclists.  Our streets MUST be made safe for me as well.


About Frank Geefay

Sustainable Bicycle and Smart Growth Advocate
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3 Responses to Those Invasive Dashed Bicycle Lanes Before Intersections

  1. Dick Blaine says:

    Surely you are aware that the state DMV laws require a car to be as close to the right-hand curb as possible and the purpose of the dashed lines is to let them know that they are allowed (required) to enter the bike lane in order to do so. This is not a Cupertino invention!. Until protective bike lanes are available and the laws are changed cars have no alternative but to enter the bike lane.


    • Frank G says:

      I’ve heard the same thing. I’m not sure if this is a rule or a law. If it is a rule there is flexibility but if it is a law and doesn’t make sense where there are bicycle lanes then it should be changed. It does not make seance as long as the car signals its intentions which is in the code. If it is a law then if a car does not turn close to the curb can he/she be ticketed for it? I never heard of anyone being ticketed for such an offense.

      There are likely other laws on the books that do not take casual bicyclist into account. Left turns in the car lanes at signal lights is one of them. I follow pedestrian. I also do not come to a full stop at stop signs because it is too difficult and dangerous to come to a full stop. Some states allow bicycles to treat stop signs as yield signs as I and most cyclists do. Bicycle are at their most unstable state when at as stop and starting to accelerate.


  2. Frank G says:

    OK. After doing some research on this subject I better understand the reason behind the law stating that vehicles (cars and bicycles) making right turns should stay to the extreme rights closest to the curb. I think many drivers are also not clear about this. This law prioritizes who is to make the right turn first. If a bicycle is first in line to make a right turn no car from behind can go around the bike cutting it off to make a right turn (Right Hook). Likewise no bike should go around a car in front when making a right turn (suicide). It is first come first serve whether bike or car. If a bicycle is in a bike lane with or without dashed lines cars next to the curb making right turns must always follow the bicycle. If a car is still in the car lane safely ahead of the bicycle it can merging into the bicycle lane next to the curb to make a right turn in which case the bicycle will be following the turning car. A car cannot suddenly dash ahead of a bicycle to make a right turn putting the bicycle at risk. This is simply common sense. A bicycle may go to the lefts side of a right turning car next to the curb to pass on the left and go straight (not make a right turn) but this should be done with caution and is done mostly by seasoned cyclists. Use common sense and leave plenty of room so no vehicle is forced to make a sudden maneuver to avoid a collision. And always signal your intentions to turn.


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