The Carlington Summit
by Gavin MacPhail.

We've all seen our share of bad cyclists and bad motorists. But even average bike and car users are sometimes not sure how to share the road safely.

Here are some helpful hints to make travel safer for every road user:

  1. Bicycles are vehicles, just like cars. Under the Highway Traffic Act, cyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as drivers of motor vehicles. The only roads that cyclists are restricted from using in Ottawa-Carleton are Highways 416 and 417, which prohibit all vehicles unable to travel at least 60 km/h. Everywhere else cyclists and motorists have equal rights and both must follow the rules of the road.

  2. Ride and drive on the right, pass on the left. To avoid cracked pavement, potholes, drain grates and other obstacles that could cause a fall on city streets, cyclists should ride a straight line on the right side of the road about one metre from the curb.

  3. Opening a car door in front of a cyclist is illegal. But cyclists need to pass parked cars at least one metre away to avoid hitting a carelessly opened door.

  4. On one-way streets, cyclists can ride on either the right or left-hand side of the street.

  5. The responsibility for passing safely lies with the passing driver or cyclist. You should leave at least one metre space away from the vehicle you are passing. Wait until it is safe to pass if there is not enough room.

  6. Cyclists should not always ride next to the curb. Just like motorists, cyclists need to use the whole lane to make left-hand turns, to pass slower vehicles, or to avoid right-turn only lanes when they are travelling straight. Sometimes a lane isn't wide enough for a motorist to safely pass a cyclist. An experienced cyclist will move to the centre of the lane to indicate this. Before changing lanes, both cyclists and motorists need to make sure there is enough room, then signal, then move.

For information on how cyclists and motorists can safely share the road, contact Citizens for Safe Cycling at 567-1288 or visit their website at http://www.cfsc.ottawa.on.ca.