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Motorist vs. Cyclist: A Rivalry Debunked

Pepsi vs. Coke. Cats vs. Dogs. Microsoft vs. Apple.   These rivalries have been around for quite some time.  A newer rivalry that seems to have become an issue in recent years is Motorist vs. Cyclist.  This rivalry has its origins in a turf war of sorts, where both modes of transportation feel that they have a right to be there.  And both do.

The focus, however, need not be on who was there first or who is better for the environment, but rather on how cars and cyclists alike can safely share the road.

Cyclist and motorist are sharing the road

Understanding Cycling

The first priority for those on the road should be safety for all.  A Toronto study  of bike lanes installed on Bloor Street in 2016 report an overall reduction in accident rates.  Sixty-six percent of motorists reported feeling more comfortable sharing the road with cyclists, up from 14% due to the bike lanes. Similarly, 85% of cyclists felt safer, up from 3%.

While these bike lanes have had a positive impact for motorists and cyclists alike, they can still be a source of anxiety for drivers.  A couple of simple things to remember around bike lanes are to be especially vigilant with shoulder checks when making turns across a bike lane.  Additionally, one should always be sure to watch for No Right Turn When Red signs that specifically apply to bike lanes.

Similarly to the turn signals that one uses in their car, a cyclist uses hand signals to indicate their intention.  It is equally important for a cyclist to know how to properly use these hand signals  as it is for motorists to understand them.

Not unlike a car, for a cyclist, a straight arm pointing left indicates a left-hand turn.  A 90- degree left arm bent upright can indicate a right-hand turn, or they may use their right arm to point to the right.

Consideration For Cyclists

In addition to the implementation of bike lanes in metropolitan areas, there are private campaigns designed to aid in fostering a safe relationship between cyclists and motorists.  The Stay Safe Stay Back Campaign, for example, created signs that oversized trucks can use in order to show cyclists at which point they will no longer be within view of the driver.

Within that same vein, where a cyclist cannot necessarily know what a driver can see, a driver cannot assume to know what a cyclist has seen either.  A cyclist has a unique perspective on the road, with virtually no blind spots, which can actually result in a cyclist missing something that may be obvious through the windshield-framed view of a motorist.

Furthermore, it is best not to presume to know the ability level of the cyclist.  Even if they are dressed head-to-toe in expensive looking gear and riding a top of the line bike, that does not mean that they are an expert.  Always proceed with caution.

Finally, it is important to remember that cyclists generally have the right of way in when they are in bike lanes. Similar to pedestrians, they are extremely vulnerable on the road.

As motorists, it is our job to do our best to avoid an accident with a cyclist and protect them from unnecessary injury.  We believe that the roads can be a safe place for people seeking to commute via alternative methods, and as motorists we can take certain precautions to safely share the road.

Road Rules by Dominique McCrimmon and Cedric Hughes