Richard Z's picture

Crowdsourcing Information for Motorists

We'd like to add a page (or more) to the site with information for motorists on how to share the road with people on bikes. What would your top suggestions be?  Think of things car drivers do that annoy you or put you at risk, and then turn it into a positive recommendation for how to act.  Explanations of why drivers should do what you suggest are welcome, too, of course, as are pithy slogans and headlines we could use.  For instance:

  • Always check for people on bikes behind you before you open your car door into traffic.  "Getting doored" is one of the most feared crash risks for cyclists. Hint: get in the habit of opening your door with your right hand: it'll force you to shoulder-check.
  • We know bicycles are scary, and you want to leave them behind you fast as possible. But speeding around cyclists is dangerous.  Even if you slow down to 30 kmh, you'll pass that cyclist in no time.


DarrenB's picture

You don't HAVE to pass right now

Some motorists seem to forget that when they find themselves driving behind a slower-moving bike, they DO have the option to just slow down for a few seconds before they find a good opportunity to pass. Sounds silly, but I think many motorists have not even realized they have the option of slowing down briefly and waiting to pass when the opportunity presents itself.  I have seen some incredibly silly and very dangerous driving by motorists obsessed with passing a cyclist immediately when they encounter them (not sure where this behaviour originates, but it is really dangerous for everyone).

DarrenB's picture

Move over please

When you do pass, please provide a safe distance between your vehicle and the cyclist.  It's the safe and responsibile thing to do, and its the law. (Oh, you can even use the oncoming lane if it is free.  And if you are on a road with two travel lanes in each direction, please just take the second lane and not try to pass the cylist in their lane.)

DarrenB's picture

Right of way

Cyclists on a roadway are considered to be vehicles with all the same responsibilities and privileges as any other vehicle.  If you come to an intersection, and there is a cyclists present, remember that they should be offered the same right-of-way as a car (this applies both ways: don't yield the right of way just because it is someone on a bike as this can put them in danger, and don't think a car ALWAYS has the right of way of bicycles).

DarrenB's picture

Bike lanes

Bike lanes are reserved lanes for bicycles by law. If you drive in them or park in them unlawfully, you put cyclists at risk of injury or worse.  You may also force cyclists to drive in the travel lane for vehicles.  If you stay out of the bike lanes with your car, it makes it a lot easier for cyclists to travel safely and not slow the car travel lane.

DarrenB's picture

Empathy please

While cyclists are required to travel as far right as practicable on the roadways, it is not always possible and/or safe to do so.  When you see a cyclist in the centre of a lane, they are likely riding there to be safe or to avoid something on the edge of the roadway that you can't see from your car.  Please slow down, exercise some patience and wait for a safe opportunity to pass. 

snowandscience's picture


This is an important one - when I take the lane (usually through an intersection, where passing is illegal anyway) it's always because I don't feel safe on the shoulder. 95% of the time I make room for cars to pass me safely, when I take the lane it's because it's unsafe to pass at that time. Please give us a bit of space :) 

DarrenB's picture

Unlawful behaviour

Cyclists, like motorists, are people too. Many motorists see unlawful behaviour by other drivers (e.g., speeding, distracted driving, failing to stop completely at stop signs or red lights, etc.) practically every time they make a trip by car.  So when you see a cyclist exercising poor judgement and behaving unlawfully, too, remember that they are people just like the motorists who disobey the law. Please don't hold cyclists to a much stricter standard of conduct, especially since a bicycle conveys much less potential to injure someone or cause property damage than a multi-ton motor vehicle.

gyrospanner's picture

Please remember that

when you pass a cyclist and have to subsequently slow down or stop, that cyclist will likely catch up.  So, when you need to turn right at the next intersection or at the shopping mall, or wherever, please check your mirror so that you don't hit that cyclist.  Also, if you take the curb lane, please leave enough room for the cyclist to pass.

bclark's picture

Just because someone is

Just because someone is riding a bicycle doesn't mean they are travelling slow.  On residential streets a bicyclist may be travelling close to or at the speed limit, particularly on downhills, with a tailwind or in playground zones.  Likely a bicyclist travelling at higher speeds will move further into the traffic lane to asser themselves as a fast vehicle and for safe clearance from hazards common when riding close to the curb (pot holes, gravel, vehicles entering intersections, driveways).  Before assuming you need to pass the bicyclist, please check you speedometer and ensure that you are not passing the bicyclist under the assumption they are moving slow.  If the bicyclist is travelling near to the speed of traffic it is best to wait until they have slowed down and moved over before you pass.

If you are passing a bicyclist on road with multiple lanes in each direction, consider yeilding the lane to the bicyclist by moving fully over into the left lane.  Return to your original lane once you have safely passed the bicyclist.  This is a great way to safely share the roadway without the need for dedicated bicycle infrastructure.

Bicyclists have a legal right to use both roadways and pathways.  In practice roadway and pathway junctions, particularly at intersections, do not necessarily clearly accommodate cyclists travelling between one type of infrastructure and another.  While you may find bicyclist behave unexpectedly at such points, keep in mind it may be that the bicyclist is trying to make do as best as possible with the infrastructure available. 

A couple sources:


amf673's picture

Letting cyclists cross ...

Please don't stop to let me cross ... I appreciate the thought, but it is quite unsafe for me in many instances due to other drivers not knowing what you are doing, multiple lanes of traffic and general confusion. I am happy to wait until the traffic clears.  If I really want you to stop, I will dismount and become a pedestrian.

snowandscience's picture

seconded again

Thanks for this one, Al. I appreciate the gesture of yielding the right of way, but it creates a dangerous situation for both the cyclist and driver in this situation. This happens frequently for me around the U of C, where one lane of traffic will stop completely to try to let me cross a street, while the other lane keeps going at full speed (which they are entitled to do). Most cyclists I know just want to be treated the same as other vehicles on the road, and given the same respect and space on the road as cars. 

amf673's picture

First to the red light!

Passing at the last second, so you are waiting at the light ahead of a cyclist is dangerous and unecessary. Same goes for passing in an intersection.

Cword's picture

How about

If you don't like the amount of room that bicycle is taking on the road, write your alderman and petition for a bike lane.

fixmtl's picture

Speed is not a right - slow down

Driving at slower speeds makes it safer for everyone - pedestrians, cyclists, other cars and yourself! It also makes it much more enjoyable to drive around.

(something along those lines)