How to stay safe while sharing the road

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Between June and September each year, Vancouver sees an average of 450 cyclists injured and three killed while riding, thanks to the warm and dry weather that makes city roads a busy way to travel. Vancouver Police are warning drivers, cyclists and pedestrians to be careful this summer in order to avoid potential tragedies.

With the seawall, bicycle lanes and tricky intersections, busy areas are prone to see collisions and incidents that put the safety of all those sharing the road in jeopardy. Traffic enforcement officers will be out in full force this summer to ensure risky behaviours are minimized, but all road users must take responsibility for the safety of those around them and themselves.

“Everyone shares the responsibility of making sure people get where they are going safely,” says Acting Inspector Ken Eng of the VPD’s Traffic Section. “Collisions are preventable and we encourage pedestrians, drivers and cyclists to watch out for each other.”

There are a number of ways people can help prevent accidents, and the VPD has issued a few reminders:

For pedestrians:

  • always make eye contact with an approaching driver or cyclist before crossing the
  • road, and assume they cannot see you
  • wear bright reflective clothing at night or during poor visibility
  • don’t J-walk – cross roads at crosswalks and obey traffic signals
  • pay attention – don’t text while walking

For cyclists:

  • cycle responsibly
  • plan your route before you go, give yourself plenty of time and choose bike lanes and paths where possible; if you’re new to cycling, plan your cycling route and pick routes with less traffic – municipalities often have great maps of bike routes on their websites
  • be aware of what’s going on around you at all times and scan ahead for hazards like potholes, gravel, glass and drainage grates; watch for vehicles entering the roadway from laneways and parking lots
  • when turning, shoulder-check well in advance, hand signal and then, with both hands on the handle bars, shoulder check again before turning
  • ride at least one metre away from parked vehicles to avoid being hit by an opening door or a vehicle pulling into your lane from the curb; use caution if you notice someone in the vehicle
  • wear a helmet
  • it’s illegal to cycle on most sidewalks and in crosswalks; it puts pedestrians in danger and drivers don’t expect cyclists to enter the roadway from a sidewalk
  • get a bell for your bike to help pedestrians hear you
  • when riding at dusk, dawn or at night, your bike must be equipped with a white headlight visible at 150 metres and a rear red light and reflector visible at 100 metres – consider adding more lights to be even more visible

For drivers:

  • actively watch for cyclists on the road – make eye contact with cyclists whenever possible to let them know you have seen them
  • shoulder-check for cyclists before turning right and watch for oncoming cyclists before turning left
  • before you or a passenger opens a vehicle door, shoulder-check for cyclists coming from behind
  • before you pull away from the curb, make sure you shoulder-check for cyclists
    if you need to cross a bike lane to turn right or to pull to the side of the road, signal well in advance and yield to cyclists
  • if you’re entering the roadway from a laneway or parking lot, always scan for cyclists and other road users

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Jill Slattery Jill Slattery was born and raised in Vancouver, where she also earned an Arts degree from UBC in English and Creative Writing. She is an avid TV-watcher and a shameless Taylor Swift fangirl. Jill is a Staff Writer at Vancity Buzz. Contact her at jill@vancitybuzz.com
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