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Intersections

Most crashes between cars and bikes occur at intersections. These crashes may occur when a car turns across a bicyclist's path, or a bicyclist fails to obey a stop sign or signal. The tips below will help keep you out of trouble at intersections.

NEVER RIDE AGAINST TRAFFIC.

As a bicyclist, ride on the right side of the road. Riding against traffic is especially dangerous at intersections. By law, bicyclists are required to ride in the same direction as automobile traffic. Utah Statute 41-6a-1105.

Depending on your destination, use the appropriate travel lane at the intersection - the right-turn lane if you are turning right, the right-most through lane if you are going straight, or the left-turn lane if you are turning left. If you are not comfortable with the traffic at the intersection, you may use the sidewalk / crosswalks at walking speed.

TURNING RIGHT:

Bicyclists turning right rarely conflict with other traffic. Stop and yield before turning right on red.

GOING STRAIGHT:

Drivers at intersections may not see you. Make eye contact with turning drivers. Sometimes it's even a good idea to wave (all five fingers, please). Assume they don't see you until you're sure they do.

As you approach the intersection, look for traffic at these three conflict points:

  1. Look back over your shoulder for traffic behind you. If there is no traffic behind you, you may wish to move slightly left (into the travel lane) for visibility going through the intersection. When stopped at a red light, stay to the left of cars turning right.
  2. Look for left-turning traffic ahead of you. Motorists turning left may not see you, especially at night. If there is no traffic behind you, move further left in the travel lane to be in a visible location. At night, a front light is both smart and required by law.
  3. Look for right-turning traffic from the street on your right. As with left-turning traffic, using a headlight at night and riding further left will increase your visibility.

TURNING LEFT:

There are two ways to turn left

  1. Vehicle-style left turn - Look back. If the way is clear, signal and move to the left lane. Turn left from the left side of the street or the dedicated left-turn lane, if available.
  2. Pedestrian-style left turn - You may also turn left in two steps. Ride to the far side of the intersection, then wait and cross with pedestrians after the signal changes.

SIGNAL YOUR TURNS:

Bicyclists should use hand signals as shown. Practice dropping one hand from the handlebars while steering straight. The law provides that you do not have to signal if you need to use your hands to steer or brake. Utah Statute 41-6a-1109.