If you’re riding at night, you should absolutely use front and back lights. Even for daytime riding, a bright light that has a flashing mode can make you more visible to motorists. LED headlights last ten times as long on a set of batteries as old-style lights.
You might be tempted to ride in the parking lane where there are no parked cars, dipping back into the traffic lane when you encounter a parked car. This puts you at risk for getting hit from behind, if a person driving a car doesn’t expect you to swerve out in front of them. Instead, ride a steady, straight line in the traffic lane. Always ride far enough away from the parked cars that you won’t be doored. Sometimes this will mean “taking the lane” and riding in the middle of the travel lane.
Sometimes when people are driving, they pass people riding bikes within mere inches (which is illegal), so moving even a tiny bit to the left unexpectedly could put you in the path of a car. Practice holding a straight line while looking over your left shoulder to do a shoulder check until you can do it perfectly. Most people who are new to cycling tend to move left when they look behind them, which can have disasterous consequences.
Ride far enough to the left that you won’t run into any door that’s opened unexpectedly. You may be wary about riding so far into the lane that cars can’t pass you easily, but you’re MUCH more likely to get doored by a parked car if you ride too close to it than you are to get hit from behind by a car which can clearly see you.
Our Urban Cycling 101 course teaches riding skills, traffic analysis skills, and collision avoidance techniques. During the four hour course we have a classroom session, followed by a parking lot session where you get to practise on your bike.
According to the Nova Scotia Motor Vehicle Act, bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as motorists. Respect for the rights of all road users goes a long way towards avoiding collisions.
The majority of collisions involving people riding bikes and people driving occur at intersections. Some people driving cars misjudge the speed of bicycles. Experienced cyclists can travel at 25-35 km/h on a flat surface and up to 50km/h going downhill. It is easy to misjudge their speed and turn too soon, directly in front of the bicyclist. If it is not safe to pass before turning, slow down and move behind the person riding a bike before making the turn. DO NOT pass and cut!
People driving cars who are making turns across oncoming traffic must watch for people riding bikes as well as motor vehicles. Too often, people driving cars misjudge the speed of an oncoming bicyclist and turn in front of them. People driving cars should always stop and wait for oncoming traffic, including people riding bicycles, to pass before turning.
Getting Doored – When exiting your car, look behind you for people on bikes who may be approaching. Don’t open your door unless it’s safe to do so. Please keep in mind that riding bikes are much more vulnerable in a collision. People driving cars must realize that they are operating a large vehicle and with that comes responsibility.
Everyone wants to get where they need to go using the travel mode of their choice, and everyone should be able to do so safely.
Have you been in a collision? Visit our collision page for information about the steps you should take.