Listed below, are a few tips to keep in mind when safely navigating the roads with cyclists.
Bike lanes are identified by a solid white line and typically for cyclists only. Although there could be an instance where a driver may require to enter or cross a bike lane to make a right turn at a corner or driveway. If you need to do this when driving, make sure to enter the bike lane only when it is safe to do so.
A bike sharrow is two chevrons painted above a bike symbol on the road to mark that the road is shared. This means both drivers and cyclists can be in the lane. They can mostly be found in urban downtown streets with curb lanes or at an intersection. To help cyclists remain safe, drivers can reduce their speed when using these lanes and make sure to only pass a cyclist when there is enough space to do so.
If you need to pass a cyclist while driving, leave at least one metre of space between your vehicle and the cyclist. The Ontario Ministry of Transportation (MTO) reminds motorists that failure to do this can result in a fine in the range of $60 to $500 and an additional two demerit points on the driver’s record. Be sure to pass a cyclist slowly rather than race by them as you can startle the rider.
A bicycle is considered to be a vehicle, which means cyclists are required to obey the rules of the road, just as a motorist would. Understanding and obeying the rules is crucial, especially at intersections where most cyclist collisions happen. To help prevent a collision, be sure to watch your surroundings and be aware of any cyclists at the intersection.
The MTO would like drivers to remember when turning right, signal and check your mirrors and the blind spot to your right to make sure you don’t abruptly cut off a cyclist and when turning left, you must stop and wait for oncoming bicycles to pass before turning.
Cyclists are encouraged to communicate to drivers of their intentions with hand signals in advance. Drivers need to be prepared for the hand signals and also make eye contact with a cyclist when necessary. Drivers also should have an idea of what each hand signal means to help share the road better with cyclists. To review the signs, you can look at your provincial driver’s handbook.
No Distracted Driving
Avoid talking or texting with your phone as it’s crucial to pay attention to your surroundings when driving. Cyclists don’t have a vehicle to protect them if they get injured, so be sure to remain alert. Distracted driving is dangerous and illegal. Avoid the temptation of using your smartphone while driving by storing it away or turning it off.
Sharing the Road with Cyclists
June is Bike Month in Canada, which means we’ll be seeing plenty of bikes on the road. Whether it’s biking to work or for leisure, it’s essential to make sure drivers are cautious and understand the rules of sharing the road with cyclists.