Rules of the Road

Rules of the Road: Who has to yield at Bakerview on-ramp to I-5?

Cars line up on the West Bakerview Road overpass of Interstate 5. Eastbound cars turning onto the freeway on-ramp must yield to westbound cars making the same turn onto the ramp.
Cars line up on the West Bakerview Road overpass of Interstate 5. Eastbound cars turning onto the freeway on-ramp must yield to westbound cars making the same turn onto the ramp. Courtesy to The Bellingham Herald

Question: At the West Bakerview Road southbound on-ramp to Interstate 5, there is a “yield” sign for eastbound cars making a right turn onto the on-ramp. I’m assuming this is for those cars to yield to the ones in the opposite direction, trying to make a left turn to the on-ramp.

This yield sign seems to cause a lot of confusion for those drivers making the right turn. When are they expected to yield to the left-turners? At all times, even though the left-turners are stuck waiting for the cars driving straight through the intersection? I’ve seen many near-miss accidents (and road rage) because no one seems to know who gets to go first.

Answer: There are a number of freeway ramps that have similar signs. In the specific instance you are asking about, the vehicle making the right turn onto the freeway on-ramp must yield to a vehicle making the left turn onto the on-ramp from Bakerview. If the vehicle westbound on Bakerview is not able to make the left turn due to traffic eastbound, the car making the right turn has no vehicle to yield to. Like all yield intersections, if there is no car to yield to, you may proceed through the sign.

Question: Making a left turn from Sunset Avenue on to Hannegan Road going north can at times be a little difficult at night, especially trying to stay in the correct lane, as there are two left-turn lanes at this intersection. Lines and reflectors were so faint and absent. The city has repainted a nice new wide white line, but it only goes partway down the hill. Are there any plans to replace reflectors as well or continue the line further down the hill?

Answer: Lane striping and reflectors are always a challenge to keep them readily visible. The city always does its best to keep the roadway markings visible. Reflectors are a problem because they are very expensive to keep replacing. The “wide white line” you mention on Hannegan Road as you start north from Sunset Drive is actually there to remind people not to change lanes until the end of the wide white line. I don’t believe they plan to extend that wide line any farther down the hill.

Rules of the Road is a regular column with questions and answers on road laws, safe driving habits and general police practices. Answers come from David Wright, a retired officer from the Bellingham Police Department who serves on the Whatcom County Traffic Safety Task Force. For previous Rules of the Road columns or to ask a question, go to bellinghamherald.com/news//traffic/rules-of-the-road/

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