High risk drivers

Respecting cyclists as drivers

Personal lines insurance

ONTARIO — A 2018 Angus Reid Institute opinion poll found that “Canadians are more likely to blame cyclists than drivers for conflict on the roads.”

While this is an opinion-based poll, it clearly outlines a perceived conflict between cyclists and motorists.

In response, Ontario Provincial Police have tips to share with both drivers and cyclists to help keep roadways safe and conflict free.

Both cyclists and drivers must understand that the roads are a shared space — and whether you’re in a car or on a bike, you must follow all traffic laws. This means obeying traffic lights, signs and road directions, signalling turns and stops, and maintaining equipment standards. A violation of any of these carries the same penalty regardless if you are in a car or on a bike.

Traffic or Pedestrian?

It’s going to be difficult for a cyclist to be respected on the road when they flip-flop between being a pedestrian and a part of traffic. A cyclist who rides on a sidewalk or behaves like a pedestrian is one thing, but when it’s coupled with merging in and out of traffic is disrespectful to other road and sidewalk users. Check the local laws in your area to determine whether cyclists are permitted to ride on sidewalks.

OPP encourages every cyclist to wear a bike helmet.

Helmets protect the rider, and wearing one conveys a confident, practised cyclist, who respects personal safety and safe traffic habits. Audible and visual signalling; horns, bells, lights and hand-signals allow cyclist to be noticed by traffic. Using your left hand to signal turns and stops is further in the sight of other drivers, while keeping your right hand (likely your dominant hand) in control of the bike and the rear brake.

Drivers not giving way: Personal safety is always a concern for cyclists on the road. A 2,000 pound car or truck whizzing by you can be quite unsettling. And while every driver should know a cyclist would not fare well if struck by a car, caution must be given. Vehicles must give at least one metre of space when passing a cyclist. Cyclists must also be allowed to ride up to one metre from the curb or right lane edge, and traffic should expect to cross into the oncoming lane during a pass. Cyclists are recommended to only ride two abreast if the road that has two or more lanes travelling in the same direction. On single-lane roadways, stacking up in single-file when cars approach is a safe practice. If there is parking on the curb side, the cyclist should maintain their position in the lane as opposed to winding in and out of parked cars.

OPP asks all road users in the province to be aware of their surroundings, giving themselves time and space.

Respecting other road users will go a long way in reducing conflict between cyclists and motorists.

See http://angusreid.org/bike-lanes/ for further details on the poll and http://www.mto.gov.on.ca/english/safety/bicycle-safety.shtml for more tips.