Rules of the Road: Can I turn across a double yellow line?

FOR THE BELLINGHAM HERALDSeptember 29, 2013 

Question: Is it against the law to make a turn across a double yellow line? I see people doing it on State Street all the time.

Answer: Generally speaking, no, it is not illegal to turn across a double yellow line.

There are some exceptions that are spelled out in RCW 46.61.150, Driving on divided highways. Those include median barriers, yellow crosshatching between the solid yellow lines or other traffic control devices.

Q: What are the rules for a bicyclist taking a "free right" on to a road with no bicycle lane? I was recently traveling toward town on Lakeway Drive and at the intersection with Woburn Street had a bicyclist pull out right in front of me. It seemed very unsafe and caused me to have to swerve out of the way to avoid a collision. Should the bicyclist have waited, like a car would, for the lane to be clear of oncoming traffic?

A: A bicyclist must obey the same traffic laws as a vehicle does. Prior to taking the "free right turn," the rider is required to stop for the stop sign/traffic signal and make sure the lane is clear before making the turn.

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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.

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