Active transportation and cycling infrastructure
In recent years, awareness of active transportation and the demand for better cycling facilities has seen the development of several new types of infrastructure. But don't forget that this new infrastructure cannot take cyclists everywhere and you will still share the road with motorists. Understanding how to use and share this new infrastructure is vital to ensuring the safety of all road users.
This section will explain how to properly navigate:
Diamond lanes are specifically reserved for buses, cyclists and emergency vehicles. They were created as a means of increasing both the speed and reliability of transit service, while providing a safe lane for cyclists to ride.
Motorists can only enter a diamond lane to make right turns. They can enter the diamond lane at any point in the block preceding the intersection where the turn is to be made. Once a vehicle enters a diamond lane, they must turn right at the next intersection.
When can you use diamond lanes?
Some diamond lanes are in effect all the time, while others are reserved for certain days and times. Signage is placed along the designated routes to inform users when these laws are enforced.
Cyclists in the diamond lane
Cyclists are permitted to use these lanes during designated times. However, when sharing a lane with a bus, there are a few considerations to remember:
- Experienced cyclists recommend riding closer to the middle of the diamond lane, because sharing the lane side-by-side with buses is dangerous. However, The Highway Traffic Act does not specifically permit cyclists to use the diamond lanes in this manner. Be sure to exercise good judgment when deciding whether it's practical to ride away from the right side of the road and closer to the middle of the lane.
- Since buses make frequent stops, always slow down and remain behind the bus unless you are able to maintain sufficient speed to stay in front of it.
Graham Avenue transit mall
Graham Avenue in downtown Winnipeg is closed between Fort Street and Carlton Street and designated as a transit mall. Motorists are not permitted on the transit mall, but cycling is allowed. Passing buses along this corridor is strictly prohibited and can be very dangerous, especially at rush hour.
These on-road painted lanes are intended to provide cyclists with a defined space to ride and help organize the flow of traffic. Bike lanes can encourage cyclists to use their bikes as transportation and help to reduce the number of cyclists riding on sidewalks. They are also a visual sign to motorists that cyclists have a right to ride on the road.
Even in a bike lane, cyclists must stay alert to both motor vehicles and road conditions. Motor vehicles still occupy space on both sides of you and may cross a bike lane at any time.
Motor vehicles crossing the bike lane
Most bike lanes are located to the left of the parking lane and, as a result, require motorists to cross the bike lane when entering or leaving a parking spot. Motorists must also cross the bike lane when turning at an intersection, lane or driveway. You need to stay alert for motorists crossing your path, particularly at intersections.
Where to ride
Your position within a bike lane is not determined by the centre of the painted diamond. You must determine your best position based on the conditions that exist. Experienced cyclists recommend that you maintain a 1.5 metre (5 ft.) clearance from parked cars at all times to avoid being hit by an opening door. Always exercise good judgment to stay safe.
It is common to see joints or cracks running parallel to a bike lane, sometimes right down the centre. These joints can be quite wide and, combined with uneven edges, present a significant hazard. Use good judgment in deciding where it is safe to ride.
In some circumstances, you may have to use the adjacent traffic lane to avoid hazards. However, you should only do this when traffic permits and be sure to do a shoulder check and signal first.
Turns and lane changes
Cyclists are not limited to the use of a bike lane when it is provided. While the bike lane offers a defined space for cyclists, there are times when you may have to leave the bike lane in order to change lanes, make a turn or leave the roadway. The solid line on each side of the lane does not mean you cannot leave the bike lane. Always plan your moves well in advance, ensure that you shoulder check and signal before moving out of the bike lane.
The beginning and the end of bike lanes
Bike lanes can begin and end abruptly without any warning or signage. In some cases, the bike lane may end and change to a sharrow due to road width. In other cases, the bike lane may end and force you to re-enter the flow of traffic. Cyclists must constantly be aware of the conditions ahead in order to adapt to changing circumstances and infrastructure.
Bike lane ends and
Bike lane ends and
sharrow begins on
Bike lane alignment
Bridges and underpasses
Some bridges and underpasses have marked bike lanes, which are generally located immediately adjacent to the right edge. Experienced cyclists recommend keeping approximately one metre (3 ft.) distance from the right edge, especially if there is not sufficient width for manoeuvrability or if debris is scattered on the road. Always use your best judgment when determining how far away from the right edge to ride.
Most bridges have "shy lanes" along the right side. A shy lane is a road marking on a bridge, tunnel or underpass that indicates the vehicle lane is safely away from the barrier. These should not be mistaken for bike lanes and experienced cyclists recommend you maintain a minimum one metre (3 ft.) clearance from the edge or barrier.
Shy lane - not a bike lane
Contra-flow bike lanes
Contra-flow bike lanes allow cyclists to travel in the opposite direction to motor vehicles, usually on one-way streets. You must be cautious in these bike lanes, especially at intersections.
When riding in the same direction as motor vehicles, you should not ride in the contra-flow bike lane.
Sharrows are pavement markings painted on the roadway to encourage cyclists and motorists to share the road. They are generally intended for use on roadways with lanes wide enough for side-by-side bicycle and vehicle operation. These markings are not a bike lane and should not be treated as such. Be sure to stay alert to both motor vehicles and road conditions at all times.
However, motorists should always pass cyclists at a safe distance (a distance of at least one metre (3 ft.) is encouraged) and not assume that the sharrow indicates that they can pass within the travel lane. Depending on the position of the cyclist, it may be necessary for the motorist to change lanes to pass safely.
Cyclists should not pass vehicles on the right side along the sharrows.
Sharrow markings mean share the lane
While it may be intuitive for cyclists to ride down the centre of the arrow, the sharrow marking is not an indication of where to ride. It simply indicates cyclists and motorists are to share the lane.
This is a sharrow marking
When approaching an intersection, consider moving to the centre of the lane to improve your visibility. Be sure to allow sufficient manoeuvring space for starting up again.
Since sharrows are generally placed along the right side of the roadway, cyclists must stay alert for potholes, wide cracks, service covers, debris and other potential hazards. In some cases, avoiding these hazards can require you to move further to the left. Always shoulder check and signal before moving over.
Parking on the sharrow
In locations where parking or loading is permitted on a roadway, motor vehicles are allowed to park over the sharrow markings. Experienced cyclists recommend keeping approximately 1.5 metres (5 ft.) from parked cars to avoid being hit by an open door.
Multi-use paths are physically separated from roadways and are intended for a variety of users including cyclists, pedestrians and rollerbladers. Courtesy and communication are keys to using these paths.
Watch this short video and learn more about riding on multi-use paths.
Bicycles travel much faster than most users on these paths so it's important to be courteous. Always slow down when passing other users and watch carefully for children and dogs as they can be unpredictable and cross your path without warning.
A bell on your bicycle is great way to communicate with others on the path. However, be aware that many people also use headphones while they walk or jog down the path and, as a result, cannot hear your voice or your bell as you approach. In some cases you may have to ride off the side of the path in order to give others sufficient clearance and ensure safety.
Start and stop
Shared-use paths often begin and end at roadways and users are often required to cross roadways as well. Always ensure that you signal any turns onto these paths and come to a full stop before exiting onto a roadway.
When riding on a shared-use path, always be alert for other users and the conditions on the trail. Certain paths change from a paved surface to a gravel surface and, in some cases, the gravel can be quite coarse and difficult to ride on. Additionally, paved paths often contain many of the same hazards you experience on the road, including debris, potholes, uneven surfaces and wide cracks.
Bike path signage
Many shared-use paths are marked with signage indicating "Bike Path." However, these signs do not mean that the path is for the sole use of cyclists but rather that cyclists are allowed to ride on these paths.
Bike boulevards, or bikeways, are low-speed shared roadways that have a variety of traffic-calming measures to reduce motor vehicle speeds. These measures include traffic circles, raised intersections, bump-outs or speed bumps. Traffic calming creates a quieter and safer environment for both pedestrians and cyclists by reducing motor vehicle speeds.
Traffic calming circles and roundabouts
Traffic circles are an effective means of reducing traffic speeds.
Cyclists and motorists must travel through the circle in a counter-clockwise direction, entering and exiting the circle on the right. A cyclist or motorist already in the circle has the right of way. If a cyclist and motorist arrive at the same time, the vehicle to the right has the right of way, similar to a four-way stop.
How to navigate a traffic circle
- Slow your speed as you approach the intersection.
- Watch for pedestrians and cyclists. Be prepared to stop in advance of the sidewalk if pedestrians are crossing.
- Yield to circulating traffic on your left that is already in the intersection.
- If arriving at the circle at the same time, the cyclist or motor vehicle to the right is allowed to enter the circle first.
- When it is clear, enter and keep to the right of the centre island and travel around the traffic circle in a counter-clockwise direction.
- Upon reaching your exit street, signal a right turn and watch for pedestrians and cyclists as you exit.
When traffic circles are a single lane in width, experienced cyclists recommend adjusting your position closer to the centre of the lane before the traffic circle and holding that position as you travel through. Once you exit, return immediately to the most practicable position on the road.
Raised pedestrian walkway
Raised walkways or intersections are usually combined with other traffic calming measures to encourage motorists to travel along a roadway at a reduced speed. They also enhance the area for pedestrians, particularly those who are mobility impaired.
Although these raised areas require motorists to reduce their speed, cyclists can easily navigate them without any reduction in speed. However, you should not pass motorists that have slowed down in these raised areas.
Bump-outs not only slow overall traffic speeds, they also help reduce the length of crosswalks and make pedestrians more visible to motorists. Always remember that you are still on a two-way street with motorists and ride accordingly.
You should not ride into the parking area between the bump-outs or between parked cars. Experienced cyclists recommend that you maintain a straight line and a distance of approximately 1.5 metres (5 ft.) from parked cars to avoid being hit by an opening door.