A 2018 Angus Reid Institute poll found that "Canadians are more likely to blame cyclists than drivers for conflict on the roads". While this is an opinion-based poll, it clearly outlines a perceived conflict between cyclists and motorists.
Grey County Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) are sharing some tips with drivers and cyclists in the hope of creating understanding and respect between them, and ultimately have safer roadways for all users.
Both cyclists and drivers must know that the roads are shared, and whether you're in a car or on a bike, you must follow all traffic laws. This means obeying traffic lights, signs and road directions, signalling turns, indicating stops, and maintaining equipment standards. A violation of any of these is the same for both a car and a bike and may result in a fine.
Traffic or Pedestrian: It's difficult for a cyclist to be respected when they flip-flop between being a pedestrian and traffic. A cyclist who rides on a sidewalk or behaves like a pedestrian is one thing, but when coupled with merging in and out of traffic for convenience is disrespectful of other users, including pedestrians. (Always check local laws to determine who may ride on sidewalks.)
The OPP encourage every cyclist to wear a bike helmet, whether 18-years-old or not. It protects the rider and it conveys a confident, practised cyclist who respects personal safety and safe traffic habits. Audible and visual signalling, horns, bells, lights, and hand signals allow cyclists to be noticed by traffic. Using your left hand to signal turns and stops ensures that arm is further into the sight of other drivers and keeps your right hand (likely your dominant hand) in control of the bike and the rear brake.
Drivers not giving way: Personal safety is always a concern for cyclists on the road. A car or truck whizzing by you can be quite unsettling. Every driver should know that a cyclist would not fare well if struck by a car, therefore caution must be given. The one-meter passing rule is the minimum distance in which a vehicle must pass a cyclist. The cyclist is to ride as close as practical to the right curb or right lane edge, but may ride up to one meter from the curb or right lane edge, therefore traffic should expect to cross into the oncoming lane during a pass.
Cyclists, if inclined, may only ride two abreast if the road has two or more lanes travelling in the same direction (directional multi-lane). In single-lane roadways, stacking up in single-file when cars approach is a safe practice. If there is parking on the curb side, the cyclist should maintain their position in the lane as opposed to winding in and out of parked cars.
“Grey County OPP asks all roadway users to be aware of their surroundings and give themselves time and space. Respecting other road users will go a long way in reducing conflict between cyclists and motorists,” said the OPP.