I’m writing a longer than expected blog post on my 3-hour trip riding my cargo bike home to Brampton from Bloor and Spadina. In the process of doing that, another topic came up: Tips for sharing the road with other vehicles on the road.
- SIGNAL: Drivers appreciate a fair warning. Stick your arms out before you have to, or as soon as you can, to show your intentions on the road.
- IF YOU SUDDENLY FIND YOUR LANE IS BLOCKED, STOP: If you don’t have time to follow step 1 to change lanes to move, stop your bike at the blockage. Do a shoulder check, and stick your arm out to tell drivers you’re changing lanes. Like when you’re in a car, WAIT YOUR TURN, and make eye contact with the drivers. Either someone will let you in to the next lane, or the traffic will break and you’ll have an opening. Either way, you’re taking an unnecessary risk if you choose to lane-split between lanes of traffic or just “go for it”.
- AT RED LIGHTS AND STOP SIGNS, STOP ON THE LINE: Do I really need to explain this one? Blowing the line, or suddenly deciding the pedestrian cross walk suits your riding habit, will not earn you any friends, and puts yourself and others at risk of a collision.
- IN A TRAFFIC JAM, WAIT WITH THE TRAFFIC: Otherwise, dismount and walk your bike on the sidewalk to a spot where traffic is moving again before re-mounting safely. Traffic dodging techniques such as lane-splitting or filtering is risky, if not illegal, and the last thing you want to do is surprise the operator of a motor vehicle. Passing on the right (closest to the curb) is probably not a smart move either. If the lane is too narrow, you put yourself at risk of a “right-hook”. The best way to not get one, is to not be there to receive one.
Generally speaking, it’s important to remember that when sharing the road with other vehicles, cyclists do not suddenly become priority occupants of the lane. Sharing the space means share equally. Obey the road laws, and show the same respect and patience to other vehicle occupants (drivers and cyclists alike) that you want shown to you.