The recent addition of bike lanes in the city (Canada Avenue and Government Street) and the existing ones in North Cowichan (Beverly Street and Cowichan Lake Road) have done a lot to improve the cycling atmosphere in the urban core. However, I am wondering if an education component for both cyclists and motorists should be included in the budgeting for future projects.
Cyclists: my message to you: “Just like a car, always like a car”. Meaning: not on the sidewalks, not on the left facing traffic. Sadly, too many cyclists are either unaware of the rules of the road or are choosing to ignore them. The consequence is a bad rap for cyclists/cycling in general and an increasing nervousness amongst motorists around cyclist predictability. Routinely, if you are in the right place and look like you know what you are doing, you are in the safest scenario.
Motorists: cyclists have same rights and responsibilities as motorists and are entitled to their space (on the right, with the traffic). When approaching a cyclist, recognize that a multi-lane situation is happing. Don’t pass if there is not enough space or time to pull back in before meeting oncoming traffic and don’t pass at all if you are about to make a right turn close to the path of the cyclist. Too often recently, I’ve had a vehicle come alongside or just past me with their signal on for a right turn and then come to a complete stop to allow me to continue straight through. Very confusing! What has been most perplexing about this scenario is that about one third of these incidents have involved professional drivers, trucks mostly.
Also, don’t stop when you would usually not stop just because a bicycle is present. While the courtesy is well-intentioned, it creates a dangerous situation for everyone. Twice in one recent morning commute, I was stopped at a stop sign on my bicycle and the approaching car with the right of way stopped to let me proceed. Fortunately, there was not a following car in either instance. A rear-end collision is always a possibility and, again, the flow is broken and nearby travellers are wondering, “why is that car stopped?”
If you are not clear about cycling regulations, contact the RCMP, ICBC or visit the Cycle Cowichan website, cyclecowichan.ca