05.04.2017 | Road Safety
Roadsharing with Cyclists
An important part of being a good driver is knowing how to safely share the road with other users. The Ontario Provincial Police indicate that the spring and summer months are some of the busiest for our Ontario roadways. For Ontario drivers, busier roadways means sharing the road with an increasing number of cyclists. Here are some tips to help you be a bike-friendly driver.
Know the Rules
Ontario cyclists and drivers are required to follow the same rules under Ontario’s Highway Traffic Act. If a cyclist is caught disobeying the rules of the road, they can face the same penalties as a driver.
Be Alert and Leave Space
The best way to avoid a collision with a cyclist to ensure you remain alert and leave room for cyclists at all times. Be sure to use your mirrors and over the shoulder checks to effectively remain aware of your surroundings. Proactively leave room for cyclists so that they don’t have to fight for space in the lane when turning onto the roadway.
Leaving a safe amount of room between you and a cyclists ensures they have the space they need to maneuver through sometimes unpredictable roadways.
A cyclist must stay to the right side of the road when possible, especially when moving slower than the speed of traffic. However, they are allowed to take over a full lane in order to avoid debris, sewer grates or to discourage a vehicle passing when it is unsafe to do so.
Remember, you have the added protection of your vehicle in the event of a collision. A cyclists does not. Therefore, it’s especially important to be considerate when it comes to sharing the road with bicycles.
If a cyclist is moving slower than the pace of traffic, you may pass a cyclist when it is safe to do so. However, you must allow a minimum of one metre distance from the cyclist at all times when passing. Failing to leave a minimum of one metre distance can cost you up to $500 in fines and two demerit points.
As a driver, you are allowed to safely cross the centre line in order to leave one metre of space between your vehicle and a cyclists. If you aren’t able to effectively leave one metre of space, you must wait to pass the cyclists when you can.
Look Before You Exit
One of the most frequent collisions between cars and bikes happen when drivers open their car door before checking for approaching cyclists. Also known as “dooring”, this can have disastrous consequences for both the cyclists and driver or passenger. According to the City of Toronto, more and more cyclists are being hit by car doors each year and these types of collisions can cause serious injury and even death.
If you are charged with dooring a cyclist, you can be fined up to $365 and 3 demerit points. So, be sure you and your passengers check for approaching cyclists before exiting your vehicle.
Practice Defensive Driving
Unfortunately, not all cyclists obey the law at all times. Just like high risk drivers, some cyclists will choose to break the law, putting their own safety and the safety of others at risk.
For drivers, it can be frustrating when a cyclists does not follow the rules of the road. It can sometimes slow down traffic or make driving near a cyclist less predictable. However, while operating a motor vehicle, it’s always best to practice defensive driving, despite the actions of others.