Spandex warriors and casual cyclists agree: summer days are the best time to make use of Vancouver’s extensive chain of bike lanes, paths and trails. With this pleasure comes the responsibility to stay safe and civil, and that’s where street biking etiquette comes in.
On roads, the same speed limits apply to bikes as to cars. On paths such as the seawall, proper pace is dictated by those around you. If you find yourself racing past everyone else, slow down unless you’d like to end your ride with a saltwater swim. Slower riders should stay on the right.
When passing another cyclist, try to pass on the left. Try to do so as quickly as possible; most lanes and paths can only safely accommodate single file traffic in each direction. When merging in front or behind someone, keep 1.5 bike lengths between you.
When navigating traffic, our ears are just as important as our eyes. You wouldn’t ride your bike blindfolded, so leave your headphones at home. If not to keep others safe, do so to avoid getting in trouble; Vancouver cycling bylaws prohibit their use.
Ideally, cyclists should never cross into the pedestrian path and vice versa. On narrow sections of the seawall, and on shared paths such as the Stanley Park Causeway, however, contact is inevitable. When riding around pedestrians, slow down and communicate. If you ring your bell, remember it is only a warning signal; do not expect others to move. In fact, it would be unsafe for pedestrians to change course unless a cyclist kindly asks them to do so.
As bicycles are not allowed on sidewalks, you may end up having to use the road if bike lanes aren’t available. Stay off the main streets unless you are able to maintain adequate pace and obey all traffic laws. It is not necessary to hug the curbside; ride down the middle of the lane and keep out of right turn only lanes if you are not intending to turn. For all maneuvers, always use hand signals.
Don’t be one of the 7,500 Canadian cyclists severely injured each year, or one of the countless others flipped off by their fellow road users every day. Wherever you go, take your manners along for the ride.
Photo Credit: Paul Krueger / Flickr