Motorists and cyclists, rules for sharing the road

It is important for us all to learn how to behave on our roads with care, caution, and respect for other road users

Thank you to those alert and considerate motorists on our roads who recognize that mixing cars, trucks, bicycles and pedestrians is a challenge for all of us.

As cycle lanes, road signs, and separated cycle-ways develop it will become easier, but currently we are all faced with understanding each other and preventing accidents.

The local Comox Valley Cycling Coalition is hard at work offering Safe Cycling courses throughout the Valley for seniors, adults and children.

It is important for us all to learn how to behave on our roads with care, caution, and respect for other road users.

Cyclists cannot move with the same speed as motorists and when a cyclist is attempting to change lanes, make a turn, cross a bridge, or pull away at an intersection. It is important for motorists to allow them the space and time to make their move, without intimidation from a 6,000-pound vehicle!

Cyclists are required to follow the same rules of the road as motorists, which means signalling clearly, being in the correct lane for turning, stopping at lights and stop signs, being visible and alert to other road users.

Drivers are required to yield to cyclists as they would to any other vehicle. If you have the right-of-way at an intersection, proceed if it is safe.

A cyclist will expect you to follow the rules of the road. Be aware that cyclists don’t always stay on the right. To make a left turn, for instance, they need to move over to the left lane.

At intersections drivers need to: shoulder check for bicycles before turning right, watch out for a cyclist ahead waiting to turn left if you’re driving straight through, check carefully for oncoming cyclists before making a left turn, and be aware that a cyclist riding along the through road could be approaching faster than you think.

We are all learning as the number of cyclists increases on our roads. Drivers and cyclists will inevitably make some mistakes as we learn to live together on these roads, and it is essential that we practise understanding and tolerance and that our first priority is the avoidance of conflict and potential accidents.

If you are uncertain about the rights and responsibilities of cyclists please also check out this website which illustrates the common issues for both cyclists and motorists.

For more information, see www.bikesense.bc.ca.

Margaret Harris, president of the Comox Valley Cycling Coalition, writes Shifting Gears. It appears every fourth week.

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