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Methods of making a safe left turn on a bicycle

As a bicyclist in California, you face many potential hazards from sharing the road with automobiles. One of the most nerve-wracking, if necessary, maneuvers you have to make is a left turn. 

There are two methods of making a left turn on a bicycle. Either is acceptable, but which one you choose may depend on the volume of traffic at the intersection as well as your own comfort level. 


One method of making a left turn is to use the crosswalks. This requires you to stop and walk your bike across the street as a pedestrian while observing the applicable traffic rules. Do not ride your bike in the crosswalk as this is against the law. 

Once you have made your way across the street, turn your bike a 90-degree angle to the left. When you have the right of way, walk your bike across the street in the direction you want to go. Having crossed the street, get back on your bike and resume your ride. 

While you are in the crosswalk, yield to any pedestrians present. This method of making a left turn is slower and more cumbersome, but it may be the safer option if traffic is heavy. 

Traffic lanes 

If traffic is relatively light, you may choose to make a left turn directly from the traffic lanes. Be sure you look over your shoulder first to check that the way is clear. Signal your turn by sticking your left arm straight out to your side. 

If there is a turning lane, you can merge into it. Otherwise, move over to the left side of the lane you are in. This is an exception to the rule about staying on the right side of the lane or in the bike lanes. Making a left turn from the right side of the road is not safe and not allowed. When making a left turn using this method, yield to oncoming traffic. 

Whichever method you use to make a left turn on your bicycle, be sure you obey all traffic signs and signals.