Bike Month kicked off on May 27 and will continue until June 30. Naturally, cyclists have been taking to the streets in order to reap the physical benefits of getting around by bike. While the switch from car to bike for your daily commute is a proactive and environmentally friendly decision, there are important factors to consider regarding your personal safety as a cyclist.
A bicycle is a vehicle, just like a car, a truck, a motorcycle or even a bus. Cyclists must obey the rules of the road, just like any other driver, and motorists must respect cyclist’s right to use the roads.When sharing the road with other vehicles, cyclists should drive defensively in case other drivers are not anticipating their presence on the streets. Be predictable on your route and use hand signals to inform other drivers of your next move. Always ride in a straight line and avoid weaving through traffic, around parked cars, into bus bays or around other obstacles.
As a cyclist, you will also need to be mindful of pedestrians. Just as you would if you were driving a vehicle, you should always be watching for pedestrians when riding out of driveways, parking lots or anywhere where you might be crossing a sidewalk. When turning, you should also be looking out for pedestrians and giving them the right-of-way.
Do not use sidewalks for riding as these are for pedestrian and/or wheelchair traffic only. If you’re waiting at an intersection for the light to change, avoid waiting in the middle of the crosswalk. This is for pedestrian crossing only, and if you’re taking up this space, pedestrians are forced to walk closer to oncoming traffic. Should you find yourself sharing the road with larger vehicles, such as trucks or buses, avoid riding in their blind spots or anywhere where they may not be able to see you. Typically, if you can’t see their face in the side-view mirror of their vehicle, they can’t see you either.
With that said, keeping our roads safe and collision-free is a shared job. Cyclists are not the only ones responsible for their own safety. Motorists are just as responsible for keeping our streets safe and reducing the number of incidents involving cyclists. As a driver, you must always follow the rules of the road and respect cyclists’ space on the roads. They are permitted to ride there, just as drivers are, and should be treated as any other vehicle.
Cyclists usually occupy the right lane about one metre from parked cars or the curbside. While bike lanes have become increasingly popular on many municipal roads, these lanes are optional. Cyclists can still choose to use the roads if they wish. They are also entitled to ride in the middle of a lane if they feel the space is too narrow for another vehicle to pass them or if they feel unsafe.
It’s important to be aware of other factors, including weather and road conditions. If you’re riding past a cyclist and there is a puddle, slow down to avoid splashing them. If it is windy or if you are travelling at a faster speed on rural roads, try to slow down as you pass the cyclist to avoid blasting them with winds and/or dust.
As we all make our way to our destinations, we have one collective objective – to get home safe and sound at the end of the day. Let’s all do our part, whether we’re walking, cycling or driving, to make sure everyone stays safe on the roads.