Many motorists seem to have a number of questions

when it comes to bicycling. Over the summer months, the volunteers at SATA (Shore Active Transportation Association) will answer one of those questions in this publication to help lower some of the frustrations motorists have with cyclists on the road. Our concern is when drivers are frustrated with cyclists, it becomes a very dangerous situation for all.

Article list:

Why don't cyclists pay registration and licensing fees like motorists?

The latest attempt at a bicycle licensing system was scrapped in 1977. It failed because the cost to administer and police the program was prohibitive and using valuable resources for minor infractions. Such a system has been tried in other provinces and countries and the result was the same.

The main reason for licensing, registration and insurance on motor vehicles is that automobile operators are responsible for tens of thousands of fatalities and hundreds of thousands of injuries every year. According to Transport Canada and Statistics Canada, between 1994 and 2004 an annual average of 600,000 motor vehicle collisions occurred. This resulted in a yearly average of 2,957 deaths and 204,000 injuries. In those 10 years, close to 30,000 people died and over 2 million were injured. According to Transport Canada, this social cost (rescue, care, treatment, personal injury compensation and repair costs) equates to $62.7 billion dollars annually in Canada.  Bicycle operators simply do not account for such things and bicycles have negligible impact on street maintenance. Motorists pay to offset the social costs of heavy, fast, powered machines on public streets, not for the use of the street itself.  As more people ride bicycles positive spin-offs result: cleaner air, healthier people, reduced traffic congestion, reduced noise, reduced parking difficulties, and cost savings on road maintenance and on public transit.

Yes, slower moving vehicles can be frustrating at times but please be patient, slow down, only pass when safe and please do not pass too close. Bicycle riders who follow the rules of the road and motorists who exhibit patience, pass cyclists when safe, and at a safe distance will all enjoy a better safety record.

Ways bicyclists can improve safety:

  • Follow the law — Bicyclists have the same rights and duties as motorists and must follow the same traffic laws.
  • Be predictable — ride in a straight line,signal turns and shoulder check before turning or changing lanes.
  • Ride with caution around parked cars and position yourself in the field of vision of a motorist.
  • Be conspicuous — ride where drivers can see you, use lights at night and wear bright clothing.
  • Wear a helmet.

Ways motorists can improve bicycle safety:

  • Respect bicyclists as legal road users with the same rights and responsibilities as motorists. Drive courteously and with tolerance. That cyclist is your neighbour and you are sharing the same road.
  • Obey the posted speed limit, and don't drive too fast for conditions.
  • Maintain a safe distance between your vehicle and the bicycle in front of you.
  • Yield to pedestrians and bicyclists in and entering crosswalks.
  • Please do not pass, to then only turn directly in front of a cyclist.
  • Pass bicyclists only if it is safe to do so. Exercise patience.
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Why do they run stop signs or resist stopping?

This may be what drives motorists the craziest. Cyclists should never run stop signs and should always slow down at crossings. This is one issue I think we cyclists need to work on and there is a bicycle safety course, approved by Transport Canada, called CAN-BIKE that trains cyclists in proper road etiquette.

Unfortunately, like the driver education programs, the CAN-BIKE program is completely voluntary.  In addition, learning to cycle, like driving, is often fraught with bad habits learned from well-intentioned family members or friends.

Yes, slower moving vehicles can be frustrating at times but please be patient, slow down, only pass when safe and please do not pass too close. Bicycle riders who follow the rules of the road and motorists who exhibit patience, pass cyclists when safe, and at a safe distance will all enjoy a better safety record.

Ways bicyclists can improve safety:

  1. Follow the law — it’s the safest way to ride. Bicyclists have the same rights and duties as other drivers and need to follow the same traffic laws.
  2. Be predictable — ride in a straight line, signal turns and check behind you before turning or changing lanes.
  3. Ride with caution around parked cars and position yourself in the field of vision of a motorist pulling out of a parking space.
  4. Be conspicuous — ride where drivers can see you, use lights at night and wear bright clothing.
  5. Wear a helmet.

Ways motorists can improve bicycle safety:

  1. Respect bicyclists as legal road users with the same rights and responsibilities as motorists. Drive courteously and with tolerance. That cyclist is your neighbor and you are sharing the same road.
  2. Obey the posted speed limit, and don't drive too fast for conditions.
  3. Maintain a safe distance between your vehicle and the bicycle in front of you.
  4. Yield to pedestrians and bicyclists in and entering crosswalks.
  5. If you plan to turn right or pull into a parking space shortly ahead of a bicycle in front of you, do not pass.
  6. Pass bicyclists only if it is safe to do so. Exercise patience.
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