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How to Share the Road with Cyclists

In order to avoid crowded roads and rising gas prices, many people are now choosing to bike to work or school. Cities across Canada are creating bike lanes to accommodate this alternative mode of transportation and motorists need to adapt their driving style to welcome these cyclists. Here are tips drivers can use to help ensure they share the road with bikes:

Be aware of cyclists: Know where the bike lanes exist on your driving route and always be on the lookout for riders. Refrain from driving in the bike lane, stay alert and keep your eyes scanning from side to side to spot cyclists. It’s also a good idea to take into consideration how a cyclist rides – they need to move around sewer grates, parked cars and any rough road hazards. If you’re parked on the street and exiting your car, check your surroundings before opening your car door.

Turn with caution: Whenever you’re stopping or turning, check for bikers. As you make a left hand turn, look to the left for cyclists and let them cross the intersection before you make your turn. If you’re making a right hand turn, look to the right to make sure you’re not turning into a biker’s path.

Watch for their signals: Familiarize yourself with the turning signals that cyclists use to notify traffic of their intentions.

  • Left turn: Left arm straight out
  • Right turn: Left arm out with the elbow bent at a 90 degree angle and the hand pointing up
  • Stop: Left arm with the elbow bent at a 90 degree angle and the hand pointing down

Use your own signals: Don’t forget to use your turning signals to communicate your next move to cyclists as well. Make eye contact with riders whenever possible so they know that you see them and vice versa.

Lay off the horn: If you want to make your presence known to a biker, don’t use your horn. You could startle the cyclist and as a result, cause an accident. Riders are vulnerable and don’t have a vehicle to protect them from the elements and loud noises out on the road. Instead, slow down and wait until the cyclist sees you.

Give them room: Ideally, you want to give cyclists at least three feet of buffer space when you’re driving around them. If you need to pass a rider, only do so when it’s safe and there’s lots of room to make the pass. Change lanes or make the pass in advance so people who are driving behind you have time to see the cyclist as well.

Be prepared for younger riders: When you’re driving near young cyclists or teenagers, know that they could potentially make a sudden movement and veer into your lane. Give them plenty of space and keep a close eye on them.

It’s important that you treat cyclists as you would treat any other vehicle. Out on the road they are expected to follow the same road rules as your do in your car and you should do the same. When in doubt, give them the right-of-way and do your part to make sure both drivers and cyclists can share the road.