Sunday, March 28, 2010

HOV: Dotted or Solid Lines

HOV, High Occupanacy Lanes are restricted to cars with only 1 driver. Most HOV lanes here in British Columbia must have 2 or more persons be be able to drive in them. Most HOV lanes allow single occupant motorcycles, but not all. It's very confusing but signs are posted on every highway as to number of persons or whether you require 2+ persons, or in some cases, more. You cannot just assume that you will be good with only 2 persons.


I have not paid attention to the line marking on the HOV lanes in the Seattle area but if I am not mistaken, they are all dotted. I only say this because if they were solid then I would be thinking twice about going into and out of them so freely.


On my commute to work I have a choice of a few different routes. Some routes are fast, another faster, and a couple are slow or slower. When I take the freeway I used to take the HOV lanes but found myself getting carried away, and I don't like the tail-gating vehicles behind me. You are in severe danger if you choose to ONLY go the posted speed and I don't find it very relaxing to go much over in this heavy rush hour traffic with people constantly jockying for position trying to get ahead. Most often I just daudle along in the slow lane. I would rather have the idiots in front of me, rather than directly behind.

So in response to Gary's (Mr H-D, UK) (<-- link) original question, I put caution aside and took the HOV lanes on the way home from work last week. Our HOV lanes are the left most lanes identified with a DIAMOND symbol. It is separated from the other regular lanes with either a dotted or solid line. The speed of the traffic that normally use these lanes are not normally travelling at the posted speeds. Aggressive drivers often approach very fast from behind and when confronted, they switchlanes back and forth without regard to the lines. Not so much on this day, but more so when traffic is less dense.

So to Gary, these dotted and solid lines are for you . . .

Thanks from the Pink Stig of BC


  1. bob, the HOV lane markings in Seattle are solid, but there's no restriction on crossing them, since HOV lanes are typically the far left lanes, which means you must move right to reach your exit ramp. Same deal in Portland, tho the HOV restriction is only during the morning/afternoon commute, depending on direction.

    While I can ride in the HOV lane, I prefer staying in the right lane... fewer wackos...

    Scootin' Old Skool

  2. lol - I'm glad my freeway is only a two lane rural segment. All these special lanes and lines is awfully complicated! :)

  3. from the DOT web site:

    "Pavement markings are used to convey messages to roadway users. They indicate which part of the road to use, provide information about conditions ahead, and indicate where passing is allowed. Yellow lines separate traffic flowing in opposite directions. Drivers should stay to the right of yellow lines. A solid yellow line indicates that passing is prohibited. A dashed yellow line indicates that passing is allowed. White lines separate lanes for which travel is in the same direction. A double white line indicates that lane changes are prohibited. A single white line indicates that lane changes are discouraged. A dashed white line indicates that lane changes are allowed."

    I'm glad we don't have any nor need any HOV lanes.

  4. Dear Bob Skoot:

    What a pisser! Riding into work with you today! I love the sound of your engine. Never straining, and the confident pull of power.

    The HOV lanes have not been so successful in parts of the east coast. They were taken out in most of New Jersey. The reason was under utilization, while traffic literally sat at a dead standstill in the three or four lanes to the right. The problem, believe it or not was pollution. Or so they said.

    I have no commute to work, a situation I am not anxious to change. (I have been working from home most of the last 31 years.) I regret to report I have picked up an infection someplace and may be grounded for a while. It happens.

    Fondest regards,
    Jack • reep • Toad
    Twisted Roads

  5. Hi Bob,

    Think I've been in Turkey too long mate...To me it Just looked like you had your own bike lane to whizz past all the traffic, We're not big on road markings here or roads in general lol.



  6. Luckily there is only one stretch of road here in Las Vegas with an HOV lane. One the weekdays most everyone treats them properly; only cars & trucks with two or more occupants, and motorcycles of course. On the weekends, if there are no state troopers around, the HOV lane seems to become open game for every lame four wheel driver, NASCAR, Formula 1 driver wannabe in Southern Nevada.

    Typical weekend speed is 80-90 MPH. Many with only one person in the vehicle.

  7. Hi Bob. Sorry I mean Pink Stig!

    As ever, your posting is most informative. I could see exactly what you mean by the solid and dotted lines separating HOV lanes from the regular lanes in BC. That was all very clear and the beauty of the video, is I can almost work out why sections are solid and why others are dotted. I understand what you say about not being able to cross the white lines in BC, but I think the situation is different in Seattle, as Orin has said because the lines there are both solid and dashed (I have checked this on a Washington State DOT website).

    Very confusingly, there appears to be 3 different HOV lane dividers in Washington State. Double white lines (which must not be crossed), single solid lines and dotted lines, with it being OK to cross both the latter two. This is what I read from the Washington State DOT website in a section called Where can I get into HOV lanes?

    “You can get into an HOV lane anywhere there is a single (solid or dashed) white line between it and the adjacent lane. It is illegal to cross double white lines to enter or exit an HOV or high occupancy toll (HOT) lane.”

    No doubt this is confusing for people crossing from Washington to BC and back, but then it gets even worse. I read on a forum ( that the way of marking HOV lanes is not consistent in different States. It seems that Utah is the same as BC where you can only cross dotted lines to enter a HOV lane, but California has totally different markings, including double yellow lines to divide HOV from regular lanes. The forum even shows a picture of a HOV lane where you have to keep to the left of double yellow lines, which of course is completely contradictory to what Richard quoted from the DOT website he found.

    I think I will do what you and others have said.... stay in the right hand lanes.... and ride slower and smile.....

  8. i think the general rule for High Occupancy Vehicle lanes (or any lane for that matter) is a single solid line is ok to cross, but double solid lines are absolute no-no.

  9. Dear Bob Skoot:

    For riders who are cursed with heading out of the Lincoln Tunnel in Weehawken, NJ (I-495 westbound, known as the "Tunnel Cut or the Helix locally), the left lane in the four-lane grouping is off-set by plastic tubes and given over to hundreds of buses headed into New York City, (the opposite direction) at about 55 mph.

    This is positively unnerving.

    Fondest regards,
    Jack • reep • Toad
    Twisted Roads

  10. General Comment:

    Our HOV lanes are in effect 24 hours a day 7 days a week. They are not time activated. Many drivers ignore the signs and you will see many single drivers using it for short stretches while trying to get ahead of slower traffic. In British Columbia they do not use the double line system, just SOLID or DOTTED. On straights with constant flow traffic it is mainly DOTTED where you are able to get into or outof the HOV lanes. They put dashed lines just before freeway exits so you can move over to leave the freeway. They only use WHITE paint, not yellow.


    you are very observant. I don't like the HOV lanes because of the safety aspect. We have drivers who meander along at the posted speed while backing up traffic. Most HOV traffic is flowing faster than posted speeds and you have to do the same on a bike or else you will be followed too closely. Better to use the Gary method. Keep right and smile

  11. We have HOV lanes in Minnesota and the rules are the same as what Richard posted. I almost never get to use them as they are all on the wrong part of town for me, so I usually do go for them when they are available if I'm on the WR or SV. The Ural is not fun on the freeway.

    I do use the motorcycle/carpool entrances to the freeways though and then I get to skip the silly meter lights. My commute doesn't use any freeways, so I don't get to do it often.

  12. The plan in HOV lanes is to get in them and stay there The solid white line is to discourage weaving in and out to gain a vehicle length at a time. It ticks me off when drivers do that anyway as it slows us down!


    Less whacko's in the right lanes? Hmmm, I ride in the left lane or HOV lane. I'm offended. Wait. Come to think of it, I have to admit you're right as well as in the right lane!