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Do Cyclists Have the Right of Way? – A Detailed Answer

Written by Gary Johnson / Fact checked by Henry Speciale

do cyclists have the right of way

Biking is one of the most economical, cost-efficient, and environmentally friendly ways of going from Point A to Point B. As more people switch to cycling, there is an increasing number of riders on public roads. It prompts the cities to build awareness of the responsibilities and obligations of cyclists and motorists on the road.

One of the most common questions among new road users is – “Do cyclists have the right of way?.” Well, in this guide, we will discuss the responsibilities of cyclists and the right of way as road users.

Do Cyclists Have the Right of Way?

1. Right of Way in a bike lane


Many cities nowadays have dedicated bike lanes for cyclists. It ensures the safety of the bikers, pedestrians, and other motorists on the road. As a biker, you must know your rights when riding in a bike lane.

A bike lane is a designated street area, usually next to the travel lane, where only bikers or cyclists can pass through. The lanes have arrows and pavement markings for guiding the bikers while on the lane.

It is cyclists’ official lane without competing with other motorists. When you are in the bike lane, it is obvious that the right of way is given to you. Motorists are expected to yield to the biker when passing through a bike lane.

For instance, if motorists and cyclists cross or enter a bike lane, the motorist should give way or yield to the biker by default. It also applies in situations when both parties need to turn right.

In this case, the motorist must exercise caution, especially when the cyclist is directly going straight through the intersection or at roundabouts. In this setup, the rider should automatically claim the right of way.

2. The Right of Way issue


The right of way in a bike lane should not always be taken advantage of by cyclists.

The bicycle lane was created to put the order on the road among riders, motorists, and cyclists. As a responsible biker, you must still be aware of the safety of those people around you.

  • Cyclists should not impose or always demand their right of way, especially when in tight situations.
  • Cyclists need to exercise caution and develop a calm mind even when in the right lane.
  • They should not engage in potentially dangerous behaviors such as ignoring stop signs or failing to use turn signals when needed.
  • Cyclists must remember that some motorists are sharing the road with them and need their signals, especially when changing lanes to avoid road accidents and harm you and other motorists.

3. Bicycles, Cars and Pedestrians


Since the pandemic, there has been an increased number of cyclists on the road. Many cities are converting some of their streets into bike lanes to accommodate their numbers. One of the most bike-friendly states in America is California.

Under California law, here are the top things you must always take into consideration:


  • Always follow the vehicle code – Cyclist is under the jurisdiction of the vehicle code. You should follow traffic laws governing motorists, including the stop at stop signs, use of traffic lights, and hand signals.
  • Always use bike lanes if available – If you are on a busy lane or you are riding a bicycle on public roads, and you notice that there is a dedicated bike lane for riders, always choose this road, especially during traffic.
  • Avoid using sidewalks – You are not allowed to ride your bicycles on sidewalks. When there is no dedicated bike lane, you are expected to ride on the primary road just like other motorists.


Even when cars are driving on a regular road and not along the bicycle lane, drivers are always encouraged to take caution. You have to check for cyclists or other motorists when trying to open a car door.

Always check for any riders coming close to your vehicle when attempting to open the right side of the vehicle door. This way, you can avoid having ‘dooring accidents. This also applies when your car turning right bike going straight, you must check any other vehicle approaching you.


If you are in an intersection with a marked crosswalk, who has to yield and has right of way pedestrian or cyclist? Pedestrians can enjoy the right of way when on marked crosswalks and pedestrians crossing.

Motorists and bikers are expected to yield to pedestrians at a pedestrian crossing at all times. On the other hand, if the pedestrian is passing in a crosswalk or unmarked crosswalk at an intersection, the person should give way to the cyclist or motorist.

Who Has the Right of Way?


The right of way cyclist or car depends on the situation. If you are a biker on a bicycle lane, the right of way is yours.

On the other hand, if you are on a regular road trying to pass through traffic, the right of way is on the motorists. Pedestrians only have the right of way when crosswalks or pedestrian crossings exist.

How Can a Bicyclist Avoid a Right of Way Accident?

You can avoid a right-of-way accident if you follow the rules and regulations implemented by the road enforcers.

Use the right equipment, including size and type, when on the road.

You should be aware that you are not the only one using the road. Always be mindful of others, and be attentive to the things around you. If you want to turn right or left, use the correct hand signals and traffic signs.

In relation to vehicle traffic, make sure you rely on your intentions when changing lanes or making turns. This way, other cyclists or motorists will know what they should, especially when approaching a vehicle on a bicycle from behind it.

It is better to use hand signals because it is more visible to motorists and other riders.



When riding a bicycle do you always have the right of way?

Not all the time that cyclists have the right of way. If you are under the bicycle lane, you can use your right of way, and other motorists will automatically yield to you. However, if you are on a regular road, you must abide by and follow the rules of the road.

Do cyclists have the same responsibilities as other drivers?

Yes. Bikers have the same responsibilities as other drivers. For instance, in the bike lane rules in California, motorists and bikers enjoy the same rights and responsibilities when on the road. All the traffic signs, stops, and turn signals apply to cyclists and motorists.

Therefore, when sharing the road with other vehicles, you need to have the proper attitude as a road user. You must respect, share, and travel safely while in a public space. You must always be aware of other motorists to avoid collisions and serious road accidents. And, of course, always look for the right of way sign.


You must always remember that as a biker, you have the same right to use the road as cars. It is equally important to signal your intent, check other users, and be attentive on the road. Practice being a responsible biker at all times, even when you are on the bike lane and bicycles have the right of way.

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