Riding alongside vehicles can be dangerous if not done properly. Certain rules are important to follow as a cyclist to ensure you are keeping yourself and others as safe as possible when on the road. Here are 10 rules cyclists absolutely need to follow when riding.
- Ride in the Same Direction as the Flow of Traffic
It may be daunting to ride with the flow of traffic behind you, unable to see the vehicles coming your way, but it is safer. By riding with the flow of traffic, you are more likely to be seen, which gives drivers time to respond quickly and appropriately. Riding in the same direction as traffic allows for cyclists to follow the appropriate traffic signage and allows for motorists to better predict your anticipations.
- Do Not Ride on the Sidewalk
Riding on the sidewalk puts pedestrians at risk of being hit. As well, it is harder for cars to see a cyclist emerging from the sidewalk than it is to see the intentions of a cyclist in the bike lane, or riding on the side of the road. It is safer for walkers, and bikers if bikers stick to the road while riding.
- Yield to Pedestrians, Cyclists, and Slow-Moving Vehicles
It is the law for cyclists to yield to pedestrians. Always keep your eyes out, look ahead, and thoroughly scan crosswalks before advancing. You should also yield to stopped or slow-moving vehicles and cyclists as you do not know their intentions. If you are moving faster – cautiously approach and yield until you know it is safe to pass. Never assume that a vehicle will yield to you.
- Obey All Traffic Signs and Signals
The safest way to ride is to be predictable. The easiest way to be predictable is to consistently follow the same rules of the road as motorists. When riding, obey the 4-way stop and wait your turn before advancing. Do not run a red light, even if there are no cars coming. Use turning lanes and signal your intentions to better inform other users of the road where you are headed.
- Wear Protection
Always wear a helmet while riding. It does not matter if you are a great rider who never falls off – anybody can be involved in a collision. Failing to wear a helmet is illegal in Canada and should never be done. Helmets protect you from sustaining serious injuries that can easily be avoided.
- Always Use Hand Signals
One of the first things you are taught when learning to drive is how to properly signal your intentions to other drivers. It is an extremely important part of road safety. The same should be done for cyclists. Using hand signals notifies other users of the road where you are going and lets them know where to proceed with caution.
- Look for Eyes
The best way to confirm that a driver has seen you, and is yielding to you, is to make eye contact with the driver. This way you can see if they are distracted or on the phone, if they are looking to advance, or if they see you and are allowing you to safely ride ahead.
- Do Not Lane Split
Many cyclists believe lane splitting to be a perk of riding instead of driving – the ability to beat the traffic and ride between parked cars, and cars backed up in a line of traffic. This should be avoided, as cars may not anticipate, or see you while turning or opening their door. If there is traffic, take a route with bike lanes, or a route that is less busy. As a cyclist, you need to be as predictable as possible to avoid getting into an accident.
- No Distracted Driving
Just like when driving a car, riding while listening to headphones, texting, eating, or taking a call, are all very dangerous and should never be done while cycling. You need to be aware, and attentive to your surroundings while biking for your safety, and the safety of others.
- Ride Defensively
As a cyclist, never assume that drivers will follow the rules of the road and yield to you. Furthermore, never assume that a driver has seen you. Riding defensively means you act as if cars won’t stop for you, so give yourself time and space to react. Even if you have the right of way, advance cautiously, because as a cyclist you cannot assume that every car will follow the proper rules of the road. Defensive riding is a great strategy to be safe and help protect yourself when on the road.
CLG Injury Law has over 35 years’ experience representing Atlantic Canadians who have suffered injuries following a motor vehicle accident. For more articles and safety tips, go to https://cantiniinjurylaw.ca/blog/ or subscribe to our newsletter.