Road safety

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Cycling safety

Whether you're a driver or a cyclist, we all have a role to play in sharing the road responsibly.

Cyclists, like pedestrians, are vulnerable to significant injuries or death in crashes with cars. While the top contributing factors attributed to crashes with cyclists are driver distraction and failure to yield*, there are things that both drivers and cyclists can do to help everyone stay safe.

Sharing the road with cyclists

 

On average, nearly four out of five cyclists are injured at intersections in B.C. When driving, you can help reduce the chances of a crash by sharing the road safely and following these tips: 

  • Keep a safe distance. Maintain at least three seconds behind cyclists and at least one metre when passing a cyclist. Don't risk side-swiping or running a cyclist off the road.

  • Dooring is dangerous. In B.C., one in 14 car crashes involving cyclists are the result of dooring (video, 30secs) . Both drivers and passengers must shoulder check for cyclists before opening doors. This will help you avoid a dooring violation and fine too.

  • Don't get distracted. Watch for cyclists on the road and make eye contact if you can, so they can anticipate your next move.

  • Look out. Shoulder check for cyclists before turning right and watch for oncoming cyclists before turning left. Scan for cyclists before you enter the roadway from an alley or get in and out of a parking spot.

  • Yield the right-of-way. Yield to cyclists and signal well in advance if you need to cross a designated bike lane or pull over to the side of the road.

Safety tips for cyclists

 

Cyclists can help to reduce crashes by following some simple tips and staying focused:

  • Start at the top. Wearing an approved bicycle helmet that meets safety standards is the law in B.C. Focus on how it fits: it should be snug, but not uncomfortable, and should not be able to roll off of your head when the chin strap is secured.

  • Reflect on safety. Be extra visible with reflective gear on your bicycle pedals and wheels.

  • Bike lanes are best. Use designated bike routes whenever possible – they're safer and reduce conflicts with vehicle traffic. Check your local municipality's website for designated bike routes or go to TransLink for Metro Vancouver cycling maps.

  • Don't ride on the sidewalk. If there's no bike lane, keep to the right-hand side of the road as much as it's safe to do so. It's illegal to ride on most sidewalks and crosswalks.

  • Follow the rules of the road. Make sure you obey all traffic signs and signals and adhere to the rules of the road.

  • Use caution around parked vehicles. Be aware of people in vehicles as well as taxis to avoid getting hit by an opening door. Try to keep at least once metre away from parked vehicles.

  • Shoulder check. Use hand signals and shoulder check in advance before taking any turns. Remember, drivers sometimes fail to yield right-of-way.

Protect yourself before cycling

Always wear an approved bicycle helmet that meets safety standards (CSA, ANSI, ASTM or SNELL B-95) and occasionally check for signs of wear.  Wearing a helmet is the law in B.C. and you could be fined for not wearing one.

Remember to plan for poor weather or low light conditions. Your bicycle must be equipped with a white headlight visible at 150 metres and a rear red light/reflector visible at 100 metres. Be extra visible with reflective gear on your pedals and wheels.

Be aware of road markings and what they mean in the area that you're cycling in. There are many different types of bicycle infrastructure, know your shoulders from your sharrows and learn the local bike signage for your municipality.

New and returning cyclists

Learn more on cycling skills, bike handling and road safety tips in Bike Sense manual for a safe and enjoyable ride. You may find it helpful to read through real examples of crashes and fault to understand your responsibilities in sharing the road safely.

*Top contributing factors assigned to drivers in car crashes in B.C. involving cyclist injury or fatality based on 2009 to 2013 police data.

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