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Continuing on from last week’s blog post we started to look at the rights and responsibilities of drivers and cyclists on the roadway, both individually and when they encounter each other. We must share the roadway with all permitted users and as such, there are penalties for failing to do so. Let’s take a deeper look into what drivers and cyclists must do to abide by the law in Ontario.
Cyclists travelling at a lower speed than most other vehicles are expected to ride approximately one-metre from the curb as explained in last week’s post. Now, there will be exceptions to having to abide by this rule, such as:
- Crossing a railway track at a 90 degree angle
- Trying to avoid obstacles like puddles, sand, debris, potholes, etc. Remember, the condition of your route can change on a daily basis (think construction projects or an accident that caused debris to fall. Always keep an eye out for any obstructions in your path
- Bike lanes can be adjacent to parking lanes and live traffic (See Diagram A)
Cyclists are not required to ride close to the right edge of the road when they are travelling at or faster than the normal speed of traffic at that time and place, or when they are turning left, or getting in position to turn left. (Cyclists are permitted to make a left turn from a left-turn lane, where one is available.)
Passing a Cyclist
When passing a cyclist, a driver must maintain a distance of one-meter as discussed and seen above in Diagram B. Failing to do so could result in a fine, demerit points, and an increase in your insurance premiums. Whenever you are able to do so safely, I recommend changing lanes to pass to ensure the minimum distance and no issues. Be careful following closely behind a cyclist as well, they are not equipped with brake lights to warn driver’s behind of a sudden stop.
Also, when passing a cyclist, even if you find yourself to be annoyed by their conduct, try to refrain from honking at them while completing your pass. Even if they may be riding a bit too far from the curb or not wearing visible clothing, honking at them may actually startle them and cause them to crash, possibly resulting in serious injuries to themselves and escalating a situation to involving emergency services.
Dealing with Intersections
Intersections can be very hectic for some drivers and especially cyclists. There is a lot going on and when a cyclist’s path must cross that of a driver, it increases the chance for a collision should there be even a slight momentary lapse in judgement by a driver or cyclist. The cyclist is at an increased risk as they do not have a steel barrier protecting them that is equipped with life saving equipment like an air-bag. Be cautious when driving close to cyclists in an intersection and never assume their movements. If a collision results, you could be charged with “Careless Driving” if you are found to be at fault. A careless driving charge in Ontario is very serious, it carries with it 6 demerit points and up to a $2000 fine. If there is substantial injury or death, the fine can increase to $50,000!
To avoid having any unnecessary collisions on the road, I recommend following these practices while driving through an intersection:
- When turning left, you must stop and wait for oncoming bicycles to pass before turning
- When turning right, signal and check your mirrors as well as your blind spot to ensure you do not cut off a cyclist riding to your right. It is crucial you check your blind spot for cyclists when making a right turn
- When driving through, be very cautious to scan for any cyclist waiting to turn left, they may not be wearing proper attire or utilizing the proper lights and could be very hard to see
Bike lanes are reserved for cyclists only and they are typically marked by a solid white line. As a driver, there will be times you will have to pass through or enter a bike lane to exit a driveway or make a right turn. (See Diagram C). Take extra care and as discussed earlier, ensure you check your blind spot. When driving around a cyclist, it is best practice to try and make eye contact with them to understand what direction of travelling they are wishing to take. Cyclists are required to use hand-signals when moving the direction of their bicycle; however you can not always rely on others to follow the rules. By practicing safety as a driver we can protect ourselves from liability should something occur. For instance, if there is an accident between a driver and cyclist, the driver is not always at fault. It will come down to the facts of the case at hand.
If you are charged by the police, it is important to immediately seek out the information that you will need to make important legal decisions. Being unaware of the law or the court process can result in legal missteps that can result in a conviction and penalties that will impact your life for years to come. Obtaining legal representation puts a licenced, knowledgeable, and experienced paralegal in the courtroom on your behalf to protect your interests in reducing or eliminating the consequences of a possible conviction. If you have been charged by the police, our team is here to help you. OTD Ticket Defenders Legal Services provides a no-cost, no-commitment initial consultation to assist you. Our friendly staff can be reached via the toll-free number 1-844-647-6869, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by text at 226-240-2480. You can also request a consultation online and one of our staff will contact you directly to assist you.