Here’s an interesting article discussing how motorists should legally and safely make right turns in the presence of a bike lane (with no separate right turn only lane): http://www.mercurynews.com/columns/ci_13669464
California law requires motorists to merge into a bike lane before turning right. This is consistent with destination positioning traffic principles (right turning traffic turns from the rightmost part of the roadway) and thereby minimizes the chance of a “right hook” crash, where a right turning motorist turns across the path of a cyclist proceeding straight.
A few years ago, Oregon was dealing with conflicting laws – one that required motorists to make right turns from the edge of the roadway, and yet another required them to stay out of bike lanes. The police proposed a California-style law which would require motorists to merge into the bike lane before turning. That did not gain traction, and so the net result in Oregon is that motorists are required to turn across bike lanes when turning right. http://bikeportland.org/2006/11/29/police-propose-bike-lane-law-change/
Oregon has been moving in the direction of installing “bike boxes” to address the right hook problem. Here is an animation that shows they don’t work as intended in all situations: http://www.commuteorlando.com/ontheroad/animations/bikebox/
As the Mercury News article illustrates, there is often confusion among motorists and cyclists about the California law regarding motorist right turns and bike lanes. In my (Brian’s) view, part of the confusion is that motorists are being asked to occupy two lanes at once (the bike lane and part of the travel lane) – which runs counter to the concept we’ve all learned about only being in one lane at a time. But what other solution is there when bike lanes are striped to the right of lanes where motorists may turn right? Since there seems to be little desire to drop the bike lane stripe before intersections (even though the design standards allow it), the California law appears to be the best way to address the potential conflicts.