In British Columbia, June is Bike Month. During this month, many organizations and government agencies host or sponsor bicycling events intended to encourage people to bike more and drive less. (You can get more information and see a list of upcoming events at the Better Environmentally Sound Transportation (BEST) Bike Month website).
Increasing the number of bikes on the roads (and reducing the number of cars) has many benefits — for the environment, for individuals, and for our communities — but it’s not without its own challenges.
One of the challenges is sharing the roadways and the somewhat tenuous relationship between motorists and bicyclists. The differences in the speed of travel and the ability of bicycles to slip silently between cars has led to much frustration on the part of vehicle drivers, while inattentive drivers and the potential for harm generates fear and anger among bicyclists. However, much of this conflict could be solved through basic etiquette – on both sides.
Bicycle Etiquette for Drivers
- Be aware of your surroundings and watch for smaller vehicles, such as bicycles and motorcycles, especially in and around intersections.
- Use caution when passing cyclists in the same lane. Slow down and move a far as possible to the left to give the cyclist as much room as possible. If there is a left lane, consider changing lanes before passing.
- When parallel parking along a roadway, park as close to the curb as possible to leave room for cyclists riding to the left of parked cars.
- When parked along a roadway, check for cyclists before opening your car door.
- When making a right turn, stop before entering the intersection and check for cyclists both coming from behind on the right side of your vehicle and coming from the left across the intersection.
- Avoid using roadways designated as Bike Routes as thoroughfares. Treat them as local access routes and, remember that in BC, these routes have a speed limit of 30 km/hour.
- Do not honk your horn at a cyclist. The sudden, loud noise may distract them so they lose control of their bike.
Riding Etiquette for Cyclists
- Know the rules of the road and follow them.
- Be aware of your surroundings. Don’t distract yourself by listening to an ipod or radio while riding.
- Ride as far to the right as possible, but give yourself enough room to ride safely and stay out of the way of car doors being opened in front of you.
- When riding with other cyclists, ride in single file, not side by side.
- When riding on a Bike Route, remember that you must still share the road with other vehicles and the same riding etiquette applies.
- Signal your intentions and be predictable.
- If you become aware of a car wanting to pass, move as far as possible to the right to give them as much room as possible.
Roadways are intended to accommodate many vehicle types as well as pedestrians.
No matter how you are travelling, a little courtesy and respect goes a long way towards improving the safety and enjoyment of travelling on roadways for everyone.