Cycling and the rules of the road

Bike safety could be a whole other topic for a new and different blog and sometimes I even think of starting such a blog. But I don’t.

(And yes, I know there are lots of rule disregarding cyclists. And yes, some of them ride dangerously. And yes, they ought to be ticketed too. Next.)

Don’t worry. I won’t let bikesafety take over this blog. But I’ve been riding more lately and I have some pet peeves I’d like to share.

First, there are the drivers who seem convinced that cyclists ought to ride single file. Really, we shouldn’t. We’re not required to by law and when the group is big enough riding double actually allows you to pass us more quickly.

Read Why cyclists ride two abreast.

“Riding two abreast allows the cyclists to legitimately ‘claim’ the lane they’re riding in, encouraging motorists to give them a wider berth, and it also makes for a shorter, quicker pass for the motorist.

Collingwood OPP Constable Piet Huyssen, who will be part of the OPP’s bike patrol in the community this summer, says the rules of the road in Ontario do not dictate that cyclists ride in single file — though that’s a commonly-held misconception among motorists.

The Highway Traffic Act specifies that cyclists must move as far to the right without compromising their safety, and that the overtaking motorist give cyclists sufficient room while passing.

“If (the double paceline) is done properly, and everyone leaves lots of space for each other, it should never be an issue,” he said.

The double paceline has also been proven to be safer, a point emphasized in recent legislative changes to bylaws in both Toronto and Ottawa.”

Second, it’s getting more and more difficult to make eye contact at intersections and 4 way stops as drivers get busier and busier. I used to complain about sunglasses and tinted windows. And then it was cell phones and texting. Now it’s smartphones. Yes, better to check your email or browse the web when stopped than when moving (and I know, I do it too) but please look around first for bikes. Note where they are and where they are going. Nod and smile and let the cyclists know they’ve been seen. It makes us happier and less nervous.

8 thoughts on “Cycling and the rules of the road

  1. Please (everyone) don’t ever check email or surf the web while in control of a vehicle. Not while stopped at a red light; not while moving. If you’re in the car and not actually parked somewhere, the phone is turned off, period. It’s simple, and it’s critical.

  2. General address to drivers: Leave the phone in your bag. It will not kill you to be unstimulated and un-entertained for ten seconds at a traffic light or stop sign. It might, however, kill ME (or any cyclist) for you to be distracted in an intersection. You have a two-ton steel cage around you. I have fourteen kilos of aluminum underneath me and a few hundred grams of Styrofoam on my head. I am as careful and rule-abiding as possible, but I need you to do your part and be rule-abiding and aware too. I can’t predict chaos.

    You can totally have my parking spot in exchange – deal? :~)

    1. The single biggest fear I have of cycling and the thing that keeps me from getting seriously into it is fear of drivers. And yes, with cell phones the risks have just been ramped up.

      1. Right. I get that. But riding in the country on empty roads is glorious. And paved country roads abound here! Just ten minutes away from the city. I tell people that they shouldn’t feel bad buying a bike rack for their car and starting their ride on the edge of town.

      2. Yes. I get that. Then I think of that accident Bill and Lorne were in when Greg Curnoe was killed. I know it was a rare kind of accident and by similar reasoning I should be afraid to drive but …

        And I do want to ride in our glorious deserted roads. I really do.

      3. They were hit from behind and that’s very rare. I think about ten per cent of bike accidents with cars are of that sort. It’s worth getting over your fear for the fall. Empty roads, cool temperatures, and gorgeous colours.

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