Road safety

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 crashes involving cyclists occur 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: 

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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Keep a safe distance. Maintain a safe distance behind cyclists. To avoid side-swiping or running cyclists off the road when passing, maintain at least one metre of space in areas with a maximum speed limit of 50km per hour, and at least 1.5 metres in areas with speed limits above 50km.

  • Dooring is dangerous. To avoid dooring (video, 30secs) a cyclist, both drivers and passengers must shoulder check before opening doors. This will also help you avoid a violation and fine.

Safety tips for cyclists

Be safe on the road when you're cycling with these simple tips:

  • Start at the top. Wearing an approved bicycle helmet that meets safety standards is the law in B.C. and you could be fined for not wearing one. Focus on how it fits: the helmet should sit level on your head (not tilted back) with the front edge one inch or less above your eyebrows to protect your forehead and should be snug so it can't roll off of your head when the chin strap is secured.        

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

  • 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 cycling maps.

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

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

  • 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 one metre away from parked vehicles.

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 front white headlight and a rear red light/reflector. 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.

*Top contributing factors assigned to drivers in car crashes in B.C. involving cyclist injury or fatality based on 2015 to 2019 police data.

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