Riding your bike in a busy city such as our hometown, Toronto, comes with its own risks. Especially when, let's face it, we don’t have bike lanes on most roads. So, how do you ride safely when you’re sharing space with cars? Here are our top five tips on how to position yourself on the road.
1) Stay 1 metre, or an arm’s length, from the edge of the road
Keeping distance between you and the edge of the road allows you room to maneuver in case you need to avoid potholes, parked cars, or pedestrians. It also allows you to be much more visible to drivers and bike riders behind you.
2) Maintain a straight line
Whether you’re on a bike lane or road, it’s really important to maintain a straight line because it helps keep you predictable to other people on bikes and in cars.
3) Stay to the left of the lane if there are parked cars ahead
Now, we know that being on the left of the lane could be intimidating, so it’s important you do so only when you feel safe. However, being on the left helps you be visible to drivers behind you, because it visually separates you from the parked cars on the side. It also reserves space for yourself so you are not squeezed between moving cars and parked ones. Plus, it gives you a bit of distance should a car door suddenly open.
4) Take the lane.
Sometimes there could be obstacles in your way, such as construction, and there isn’t enough space for a car and you to be in the same lane, so what do you do? Legally speaking, bikes are considered to be vehicles, and you can take the lane and ride right in the centre of the lane. Now, we know that sometimes this might be a little scary. However, riding in the middle encourages drivers to not try to squeeze past you, changing lanes instead. This helps keep you both safer.
5)Don't move all the way to the right at intersections unless turning right
If you're headed straight through an intersection, maintain the straight line you established earlier. Follow all the the other rules of lane positioning, don't move to the right and rest your foot on the curb. This gives you the visibility needed to be safe on the road.