The One Thing Drivers and Cyclists Need to Know

Photo courtesy of John Luton, Capital Bike and Walk Society, Victoria, BC
Photo courtesy of John Luton, Capital Bike and Walk Society, Victoria, BC

There’s been some confusion over the years as to exactly where bicycles fit on our roads. Do they stay on the shoulder (or bike lane if it’s there)? Do they ride with or against traffic? Are they allowed to ride on the road?

Here’s what you need to know:

People riding a bicycle have the same rights and responsibilities as those driving a motor vehicle 

Since bicycles are generally slower than regular traffic, they are supposed to move as far to the right as practicable, as is the case with all slower-moving vehicles, so other traffic can safely pass.

But that doesn’t mean you’ll always find cyclists at the side of the road. In fact, it can be safer for them at times to take the centre lane. This is especially true when the road is narrow and there are hazards where they would normally ride. While we work to keep our roads safe and clear, cyclists could face any number of potential dangers that could force a cyclist from the side of the road, like pot holes, or branches and debris.

Parked cars can be particularly perilous, and you should expect cyclists to be riding at least a metre away from them to avoid being hit by a door that suddenly swings open (something that’s common enough to have its own name – being “doored“). In fact, as of September 2020, anyone opening the door of a parked car when it is not reasonably safe to do so will face an increased fine of $368.  This new fine is about quadruple the current fine of $81, which is among the lowest in Canada.

The more cyclists are treated like any other vehicle, the easier and safer it becomes for them to share the road with cars and trucks. Here are a few more tips for  you cyclists out there who want to be treated like other vehicles:

  • Be visible. Motor vehicles have lights, and lots of them, so equip your bike with front lights (white) and rear lights (red). It’s not just for visibility – it’s the law. And don’t forget to wear reflective clothing to be sure drivers can see you.
  • Signal. Just like you would as if you were driving a car. And leave some time between signalling and acting to give those around you a chance to know what you’re doing.
  • Ride predictably. Stick to the rules of the road and, as much as possible, ride in a straight line. Weaving in and out of parked cars, for example, can make your movements harder to anticipate and increases the risk of an accident.

If you’d like to learn more about cycling safety, the BikeSense website is a wealth of information, and is well worth a look.

Do you have a tip for making the road a better place for drivers and cyclists? Let us know in the comments section below.

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Page 1 of 17 comments on “The One Thing Drivers and Cyclists Need to Know”

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  1. I would like to see more education and enforcement on the use of front and back lights for cyclists at all times of the day. I commute to work on a regular basis, noting that especially at dawn and dusk it is difficult to always see oncoming cyclists which wouldn’t be such a problem if they had a front lights. With e-bikes travelling at higher than normal speeds, and the acceptable maximum speed of 32 km/hour on dedicated cycling lanes, it is in the best interest of all riders if we, like automobiles, make front and back lights mandatory on all bikes in BC.

    • Hello Danielle and thanks for your comments. While we are responsible for creating legislation for the BC MVA, the BC RCMP, and other local jurisdictions, are responsible for enforcing that legislation. A large part of our job here at TranBC is to educate the travelling public, and we will most certainly try to include cyclist illumination in any of of our messaging, to raise awareness among motorists and cyclists alike.

  2. Great post. I used to be checking continuously this blog and I’m
    impressed! Extremely helpful info specially the closing section ??
    I maintain such info much. I was looking for this particular info for a long time.
    Thanks and best of luck.

  3. I think a little public awareness campaign geared toward drivers and the safety of cyclists should be considered for our city.

    Ask any driver and they can probably provide a long list of annoying facts about sharing the road with cyclists but let’s try to remember, there are pro’s too!

    -every cyclist on the road is one less car to contend with;
    -every cyclist on the road is less pollution;
    -cyclists, especially all the daily commuters, patrol the streets and back lanes of our neighbourhoods and are often the ones disturbing attemps of thefts by their presence;
    -cyclists are often the ones jumping off their bikes to help a pedestrain;
    -cyclists are not TRYING to be annoying by taking up too much road but they have learned that pedestrian and drivers think nothing of opening car doors, without checking for bike traffic, or darting out between cars to cross,mid block on a street….so it’s sheer necessity.
    -cyclists are fitter and therefore are less of a burden on healthcare;

    But finally, there will always be jerky cyclists, clearly breaking rules and causing chaos, but take away the bike and they’d be jerks driving around recklessly in a car!

  4. Don’t cycle up the right side of cars waiting at a red light or stop sign. Hold your place in the queue and avoid a collision with someone turning right. Plus, the cars who carefully passed you earlier won’t have to pass you again.