Question: When coming off Interstate 5 north onto Sunset Drive, there are 2 lanes that go to the right, one to the left. Is it legal to take a free right from the middle turning lane?
Answer: Yes, it is legal to make the free right-hand turn from the center lane in this case. It is also an area that requires close attention because it is difficult to see vehicles approaching as they come over a rise in the bridge there.
Q: What are the laws about making a left turn from the driveway at Northwest Baptist Church onto Northwest Avenue? The driveway is located 40 feet from McLeod Road at Northwest. This intersection is very unsafe for a left turn on to Northwest from either direction. I have witnessed Bellingham Police use the driveway for a left turn onto Northwest. A motorcycle officer stopped a person making a turn from there and gave a warning. What would a person do during daytime traffic when a safe left turn is not possible from McLeod? Is this legal if you are actually leaving the church and not cutting through the lot?
A: Let's start with the easy answer first. It is illegal to "cut through the lot" to avoid the stop sign or any stoplights.
As far as the Northwest Avenue/McLeod Road intersection, I agree it is a difficult place to make a left turn from. I don't go that way if I need to turn left onto Northwest. If it is not safe to make a left turn, don't do it. I don't know if there is a sign in the church driveway that prohibits a left turn. If there is, it would be illegal to make the turn. If there is no sign that prohibits the turn, it is legal, although the driver leaving the driveway and entering the roadway is responsible for making sure it can be done safely without causing the drivers on the roadway to take any action to avoid them (failure to yield issues). I would expect that was what caused the motor officer to stop the vehicle you referenced.
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DAVID WRIGHT is a retired officer from the Bellingham Police Department who is now on the Whatcom County Traffic Safety Task Force.