Insights & Articles
Protected Bike Lane Safety for Cyclists and Drivers
Protected bike lanes are great for cyclists and make riding in the city a lot more enjoyable. However, there are some things cyclists and drivers should be aware of so that everyone can use them safely.
Cyclists should be aware of becoming too comfortable riding in the protected lane. Bike lanes are narrow and it’s a good idea to look out for debris. Garbage, gravel, and sewer covers in the lanes can be difficult to avoid but can cause accidents or bicycle damage.
Protected bike lanes have gaps where cars can enter the lane, and cyclists need to be vigilant and watch for turning vehicles. Wherever the protected bike lane allows cars to enter, it’s good practice to check behind you before you cross that area. A handlebar or helmet mounted rear view mirror is a great way to be aware of what’s behind you.
In intersections, it’s important to watch for turning vehicles if you intend to ride straight through the intersection. If there’s a car waiting to turn right in the intersection or in the bike lane, do not pass it on the right! Pass on the left only, or if that isn’t possible, slow down and wait for the car to turn and leave the bike lane or intersection clear. Passing on the right can lead to being struck by a turning vehicle.
Cyclists who want to turn left at an intersection need to leave their protected lane and move across the intersection to make the turn. Always make sure the road is clear before leaving the protected lane. Intersections are dangerous and cyclists need to be alert at all times.
Drivers need to be aware of cyclists using the protected bike lanes. If there’s a cyclist ahead of or beside a vehicle in a protected lane going straight through an intersection, drivers who want to turn right should slow down and allow the bike to pass through the intersection before making the turn. Do not cut the cyclist off by driving across the bike lane in front of them!
If a driver is waiting to turn right, or is partially in the bicycle lane, the driver should check their mirrors and blind spot for cyclists before completing the turn. It may be wrong to pass on the right, but if a cyclist doesn’t realize the rules of the road and passes on the right, a driver who checks their blind spot before completing their turn will prevent a collision from happening.
The same goes when entering a driveway through a protected bike lane: wait for cyclists to cross and the area is clear before making a turn. Drivers turning left into driveways or at intersections with protected bike lanes need to watch out for oncoming cyclists. Cyclists in protected lanes can be moving quickly. Drivers need to be aware of bicycles and not cut them off at intersections. Look twice and save a life!
This article was written by Alexa Duggan, Personal Injury Lawyer at McKenzie Lake Lawyers