Cycling and sharing the road

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Cyclists and drivers have the same rights, same rules and same responsibilities when it comes to sharing the road. Like drivers operating motor vehicles, cyclists must obey all signs and traffic control devices and travel in the same direction as traffic. The only rule unique to cyclists is that they must position themselves along the right curb of the roadway. Drivers should always ensure that cyclists are given the courtesy and space they need to ride safely.

Below, find information to help motorists and cyclists interact safely. For more information on cycling basics, see Cycling 101. For information in the event of a collision, see Vehicle-bicycle collisions. For additional information on sharing the road, see our Driver’s Handbook.

Motorists

Motorists need to be cautious, respectful and share the road with cyclists. It is recommended that drivers provide at least one metre of space between their vehicle and a cyclist. Depending on circumstances and the cyclist’s position, you may need to change lanes to pass safely. See more information on passing a cyclist.

When a cyclist is on the road, drivers must

  • Reduce their speed.
  • Leave a safe following distance.
  • Avoid using their horn.
  • When turning left, watch for and yield to oncoming cyclists just as you would to oncoming motorists.
  • When turning right, yield to any cyclist traveling on your right.
  • Pass at a safe distance – leave space to breathe!
  • Look for cyclists before opening your car doors.

Remember that children on bicycles can be unpredictable - expect the unexpected and slow down.

Cycling hand signals

Cyclists should use hand signals to communicate with drivers and other road users. Hand signals should be used well in advance of any turn, be specific and clear. Like drivers, it is important for cyclists to always shoulder check before signalling and again before you change lanes.

The proper signalling sequence is:

  1. Shoulder check.
  2. If it’s clear, make your hand signal.
  3. Before changing lanes, shoulder check one more time.
  4. If it’s safe, change lanes or make your turn.

Road position

It is illegal for cyclists to ride on the sidewalk. So, cyclists are to ride as close as practicable to the right-hand side of the road. However, they are also using their best judgment and may find it necessary to move closer to the middle of the lane. If a cyclist is too close to the curb, they run the risk of swerving left to avoid hazards, possibly obstructing the path of other traffic. See more information.

When there are parked cars on either side of an intersection, unless turning, cyclists should continue riding in a straight line. They should not weave in and out of parked cars and should try to stay at least 1.5 meters away from the parked cars to avoid any potentially opening car doors.

Right-turn only lanes

Cyclists should always be in the right-most lane or position that is going to take them where they want to go. In right-only turn lanes, if a cyclist isn’t turning, they will position themselves in the appropriate position to the left.

Right turns

When beginning a right turn, cyclists should signal and move closer to the middle of the most-right lane (to maximize visibility). They should follow the same path that a motor vehicle would take until the turn is completed. Once the turn is completed, signal and return to the right-most practicable position. See more information in the 60 Second Driver video.

Left turns

Left turns take more planning and require moving into active traffic lanes. Like motor vehicles, cyclists should never make a left turn from the right side of the road.

A cyclist will shoulder check, signal, check again and then move to the left to position themselves for a left turn. Cyclists will often signal and then move into the centre of the left turning lane. This position ensures their visibility and prevents other vehicles behind from passing on the left or right.

Cyclists in multiple turn lanes

When faced with more than one turn lane, a cyclist should pick the lane best suited to your destination. For example, if you are turning left at the intersection, chose the right most turn lane in order to arrive in the right most lane (path 2) after the turn.

Roundabouts

When traffic circles are a single lane in width, cyclists should adjust their position closer to the centre of the lane before the traffic circle and hold that position as they travel through. Once they exit, they should return immediately to the most practicable position on the road.

Book a community presentation

To book a cycling safety presentation for your community group, school or business, please visit our Road Safety Community Presentations page for more information. (Currently, only virtual presentations are available due to COVID-19.)