Cycling on the road can be a dangerous endeavour, but proper bike handling can help keep you safe.
These pointers come directly from Bike Sense , the B.C. cycling manual. This booklet, which is available at HCC, is written and reviewed by professional cycling skills instructors, cycling advocacy organizations, bicycle trained police officers, and provincial authorities responsible for making and interpreting traffic laws. In other words, they know what they’re talking about!
- Ride in a Straight Line
This may sound like a no-brainer, but it really is important. Riding straight helps keep you away from cars and makes you more predictable to other road users. So, practice riding in a straight line at various speeds, when starting from a stand-still, and when you look over your shoulders.
- Use Hand Signals
Hand signals let everyone else on the road know where you’re going. Be sure to signal well in advance of all turns—this includes if you’re swerving to avoid road hazards. The proper signalling sequence looks like this: shoulder check to check for cars, hand signal, then shoulder check again, and turn with both hands on the handle bars.
- Ride Defensively
Someone once said to assume everyone else on the road is an idiot. Now, while HCC doesn’t condone assuming about the mental capacities of those around us, we definitely agree that riders need to remain exceptionally alert for unpredictable moves and mistakes by others. Work to anticipate behaviours and dangers, observe traffic all around you, and make eye contact.
- Follow Road Rules
According to B.C. law, cyclists have the same rights and duties as vehicle operators. As such, riders have all the same right-of-ways and obligations to follow traffic signals and signs. To review the rules of the road, get a copy of Road Sense for Drivers—BC’s Safe Driving Guide from ICBC.
A note about sidewalks and crosswalks: in general, cyclists may NOT ride on sidewalks or in crosswalks. The only exceptions are when authorized by municipal bylaws or otherwise directed by a sign (e.g. the sidewalk beside the main roadway in Vancouver’s Stanley Park). So, if you don’t see a sign, don’t do it.
- Ride on the Right
Bicycles must ride on the right side of the road, going along with traffic. Since cyclists move slower than the normal speed of traffic, they must ride as far to the right-hand curb or edge as practicable. That means giving yourself a little space to manoeuvre without hitting the curb or going off the road—approx. 1 m (3 ft.) When riding past parked cars, remain about 1 m to the right to avoid being hit by doors and do not swerve in and out of empty parking spaces.
- Use the Correct Lane at an Intersection
Like a car, cyclists must use the correct turning lane at an intersection. So, if a cyclist wants to go straight but their curb lane turns into a right-turn-only lane, they must change lanes and enter the right-most through lane. Same goes for those who want to make a left-hand turn. To change lanes, shoulder check, signal, move to the right side of the chosen lane when an opening appears.
Note that if you’re making a left-hand turn on a two-lane road or where there is no specific left-turn lane, move to the left side of the lane so cars going straight through cannot pass on your left and obscure your turn.
- Pass on the Left
Always pass on the left when overtaking slower moving traffic—bikes, pedestrian, and cars. When it comes to cars, you’ll get into the situation when a vehicle is turning right or entering a driveway / parking spot. However, this doesn’t mean you should move to the left of cars having a slow start at a set of traffic lights.
The only time when passing on the right is acceptable is when you are in a bike lane or when a vehicle is looking to make a left turn.