Calgary’s avid cyclists ride all year long, which means that both cyclists and drivers need to be aware of how to share the road. Safety should always be the top priority for both parties.
While cyclists should always ride cautiously and defensively, drivers should also be mindful of the fact that they are capable of causing serious injury. Simply put, a car travelling at full speed is no match for a bicycle, and the cyclist will almost always suffer the worst in a collision.
Auto Insurance Calgary: Cyclist Road Safety Rights and Responsibilities
The most important thing that cyclists need to keep in mind is that they must obey all the same rules of the road as drivers. This includes the use of hand signals to indicate turns and changes in speed. Cyclists should use the left arm to make hand signals to ensure maximum visibility to drivers. Many cyclists mistakenly use the right arm to indicate a right turn, and this is incorrect. Right turns are indicated by holding the left arm at an upward 90-degree angle, bent at the elbow.
Cyclists must also be proactive about maintaining visibility at night. This includes the use of reflectors, lights, and reflective clothing. Specifically, cyclists should:
- Illuminate one or two headlights and one taillight when riding after sunset
- Have at least one front reflector and one rear reflector
Wearing reflective clothing when riding at night is also recommended, but not obligatory.
Cyclists are also obliged to come to full stops at all red lights and stop signs, and proceed only when it is legal and safe to do so. Many cyclists ignore this responsibility, and this poses safety hazards and diminishes goodwill between riders and drivers.
Finally, keep in mind these principles of safe, legal and courteous cycling:
- Ride in single file. When cycling in a group, always remain in single file.
- Stay in the correct lane. While cyclists are technically allowed to occupy any lane, you should stay to the right as much as possible. If that lane becomes a right-turn lane and you are continuing straight, you should move to the left of the turning lane as soon as it is safe to do so. If a dedicated bicycle lane is available, always use it.
- Avoid sudden swerves into traffic. Avoid making sudden moves further into traffic lanes to avoid sewer grates and other obstacles near the curb. Maintain a distance of approximately 50 cm (1.5 feet) from the curb.
- Turn left the right way. While cyclists are permitted to use left turn lanes and make left turns the same way cars do, this isn’t always the safest option, especially at major intersections. In these cases, it may be safer to continue straight through the intersection to the far right corner. Complete your turn by waiting at that corner until you are permitted to proceed with a green light.
- Make eye contact. It’s a good idea to make eye contact with drivers coming out of driveways and cross streets to ensure that they’ve seen you.
Be a Safe and Courteous Driver
Cyclists who observe the aforementioned safety rules and principles will minimize their risks and help a smooth flow of traffic. That said, drivers also have a part to play. Here’s how to be courteous to cyclists:
- Do not pass cyclists too closely. Allow at least three feet between your passenger-side mirror and the rider.
- Never drive aggressively when encountering cyclists on roads or at intersections.
- Always check for cyclists before opening your driver’s side door after parking on a roadway.
- If you’ve just passed a cyclist and are making a right turn, check your mirrors to see if the cyclist has caught up to you. If so, delay your turn until the cyclist has safely passed you.
- Be careful when rounding corners or ascending hills. You may suddenly encounter a cyclist who was previously out of view. Avoid driving too close to the curb.
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