With the sunny weather here, you may see more people on bikes and out walking.
Roads are shared systems for people on bicycles, people who walk and people who drive. Roads vary in design across communities, but no matter where you live, road safety is important for all road users.
All road users share responsibility for consciously using the road in a way which is safe for each other.
Here are some every day tips on sharing the road with people on bikes:
- Look and communicate: Make it a habit to look for people on bikes as you leave your parking spot, your driveway or as you travel down the road. Make eye contact with the person on a bike if you can and acknowledge that you have seen them.
- Back up safely: Before backing up, roll down your windows and make sure the radio is turned all the way down or off. Listen for quiet voices from unexpected places and expect to see people on bicycles in your mirrors. Check all your mirrors and look behind you as you are backing up; if you have one, use your rear-mounted camera but do not rely on this alone. If your vehicle doesn’t have a backup camera system, consider installing one.
- One metre pass: If you are driving by people on bikes, especially on streets with no separated or marked bike lane, give them at least a metre of space when you pass. People on bikes are required to ride as near as possible to the right side of the of the road but they may need to ride closer to the centre in order to avoid hazards to their safety such as gravel, potholes, manhole covers, slippery surfaces or debris.
- Make safe right turns: When turning right at an intersection, always check your mirrors, use your turn signal, and check your blind spot. Expect to see people on bikes next to you, between stationary or slow-moving cars and at the right edge of the road.
- Respect bike lanes and bike boxes: Don’t drive in bike lanes or bike boxes. Bike lanes are reserved for people on bikes and bike boxes are designated spaces at the head of a traffic lane at an intersection. Bike boxes give people on bikes a safer, more visible way to be ahead of traffic during a red light. Always yield to people on bikes when you cross bike lanes to pull into driveways and parking spots.
- Respect sharrows: you’ll know you’re in a sharrow if you see two, upside-down V shaped arrows painted above a bicycle symbol on the road. Road lanes indicating a sharrow mean the entire lane is shared between vehicles and people on bikes. Sharrows are often used to help people on bikes reduce the risk of hitting road edge hazards, such as the open door of a parked vehicle.
- Prevent dooring: Dooring can create serious injuries to people on bikes. It happens when a person on a bike is hit by a car door. If you park on the side of a street, before exiting your vehicle use the ‘Dutch Reach’; reach for driver-side door with your right hand. This simple change enables you to easily check over your left shoulder for oncoming people on bicycles who would otherwise be at risk for being ‘doored’.
- Slow Down: The faster you drive, the more distance you need to stop and the less time you have to react. Slowing your driving speed is good for people on bikes and for people in vehicles. The human body can only absorb a limited amount of impact; the highest chance of surviving a collision is when vehicles travel as slow as 30 km.
Active transportation, like riding your bike and walking, are great ways to reach Canada’s Physical Activity Guidelines. Help make active transportation in your community as safe as possible by using these tips and sharing them with your neighbours.
Learn more about road safety in BC, visit Vision Zero BC.
Author’s Bio: Linda Phillips is a Senior Policy Analyst in Injury Prevention at the Ministry of Health who works on fall prevention for frail seniors and vulnerable road user safety. When she’s not preventing injuries she loves to horseback ride.
Image Credit: Mainroad
BC Bike to Work Week
Safety Resources for Bike to Work/Bike to School Week
One-metre safe distance to pass people on bicycles
Ten Ways for Cyclists and Motorists to share BC Highways
Moving to Vision Zero: Road Safety Strategy Update (2015)
VCH blog on speed and motor vehicle crashes
BC Community Road Safety Toolkit