The test we take to obtain our California Driver’s License is very specific on this point. I can remember it like yesterday. When you want to make a right hand turn, you need to pull into the rightmost lane of traffic and set up for your turn from there (CVC 22100). Even if that lane is a bike lane (CVC 21717). As far as you, as a driver are concerned, it is a lane and you need to be in it to take that right hand turn. You can get a ticket for breaking this law.
California Driver Handbook Excerpt:
The laws in question: texts of CVC 22100 & CVC 21717
DIVISION 11. RULES OF THE ROAD [21000 – 23336] (Division 11 enacted by Stats. 1959, Ch. 3.) CHAPTER 6. Turning and Stopping and Turning Signals [22100 – 22113] ( Chapter 6 enacted by Stats. 1959, Ch. 3. )
22100. Except as provided in Section 22100.5 or 22101, the driver of any vehicle intending to turn upon a highway shall do so as follows:
(a) Right Turns. Both the approach for a right-hand turn and a right-hand turn shall be made as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway except:
(1) Upon a highway having three marked lanes for traffic moving in one direction that terminates at an intersecting highway accommodating traffic in both directions, the driver of a vehicle in the middle lane may turn right into any lane lawfully available to traffic moving in that direction upon the roadway being entered.
(2) If a right-hand turn is made from a one-way highway at an intersection, a driver shall approach the turn as provided in this subdivision and shall complete the turn in any lane lawfully available to traffic moving in that direction upon the roadway being entered.
(3) Upon a highway having an additional lane or lanes marked for a right turn by appropriate signs or markings, the driver of a vehicle may turn right from any lane designated and marked for that turning movement.
(b) Left Turns. The approach for a left turn shall be made as close as practicable to the left-hand edge of the extreme left-hand lane or portion of the roadway lawfully available to traffic moving in the direction of travel of the vehicle and, when turning at an intersection, the left turn shall not be made before entering the intersection. After entering the intersection, the left turn shall be made so as to leave the intersection in a lane lawfully available to traffic moving in that direction upon the roadway being entered, except that upon a highway having three marked lanes for traffic moving in one direction that terminates at an intersecting highway accommodating traffic in both directions, the driver of a vehicle in the middle lane may turn left into any lane lawfully available to traffic moving in that direction upon the roadway being entered.
(Amended by Stats. 2004, Ch. 183, Sec. 353. Effective January 1, 2005.)
DIVISION 11. RULES OF THE ROAD [21000 - 23336] (Division 11 enacted by Stats. 1959, Ch. 3.) CHAPTER 3. Driving, Overtaking, and Passing [21650 - 21759] (Chapter 3 enacted by Stats. 1959, Ch. 3.) ARTICLE 2. Additional Driving Rules [21700 - 21721] (Article 2 enacted by Stats. 1959, Ch. 3.) 21717. Whenever it is necessary for the driver of a motor vehicle to cross a bicycle lane that is adjacent to his lane of travel to make a turn, the driver shall drive the motor vehicle into the bicycle lane prior to making the turn and shall make the turn pursuant to Section 22100.
(Added by Stats. 1976, Ch. 751.)
This is why bike lanes tend to have special treatments at intersection approaches. One of these is the dotted line to indicate that crossing is okay. Another is the mutual crossing approach where the bike lane shifts to share the through vehicle lane while right turning vehicles commandeer the entire bike lane as a turn lane.
This means that both bikes and cars share both the through lanes and the right turn lanes at the approach to the intersection. And in many of these cases the through lane is doubling as a left turn lane as well.
All of which is well and good but what happens when you have train tracks with wide open flanges right where your bike riders need to be for safe positioning alongside cars in compliance with the vehicle codes cited above?
Update: 2-28-2017. Piqued your interest in vehicle code for bikes? The San Francisco Bicycle coalition has a web page that graphically explains the top ten rules of the road for bicyclists. An example very closely related to the turn movements examined above is CVC 21202, the pass on the left law.
The above graphic shows the bike rider in perfect position to continue straight through the intersection or to take a left turn. In both cases bicyclists must be able to safely maneuver and position themselves on the roadway to comply with the vehicle codes. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that the two sets of train tracks running down the center of 17th Street are a serious danger to bike riders attempting to follow the rules of the road.