Whether you’re a driver or riding a bike, we all have a role to play in sharing the road responsibly.
Cyclists, like pedestrians, are vulnerable to significant injuries or death in crashes with cars. While common contributing factors attributed to crashes with cyclists are driver distraction and failure to yield, there are things that both drivers and cyclists can do to help everyone stay safe.
Tips for Drivers on Sharing the Road with Bikes
Crashes involving cyclists frequently take place at intersections. When driving, you can help reduce the chances of a crash by sharing the road safely and following these tips:
Don’t get distracted. Watch for bikes on the road and make eye contact if you can, so they can anticipate your next move.
Yield the right-of-way. Yield to bikes and signal well in advance if you need to cross a designated bike lane or pull over to the side of the road.
Look out. Shoulder check for bikes before turning right or changing lanes and watch for oncoming bike traffic before turning left. Scan for bikes before you enter the roadway from an alley or get in and out of a parking spot.
Keep a safe distance. Maintain at least three seconds behind bikes and at least one metre when passing a biker. Don’t risk side-swiping or running a cyclist off the road.
Dooring is dangerous. To avoid dooring a bike, both drivers and passengers must shoulder check before opening doors. Dooring is not currently specifically prohibited in Nova Scotia and remains a serious threat to the safety of bike riders.
Learn your route. Learn where bike lanes are located on your daily commute, and note the locations where poor infrastructure will force you to share the road with cyclists. Be prepared for these interactions.
Safety Tips for Cyclists:
Start at the top. Wearing an approved bicycle helmet that meets safety standards is the law in Nova Scotia and you could be fined for not wearing one. Focus on how it fits: the helmet should sit level on your head (not tilted back) with the front edge one inch or less above your eyebrows to protect your forehead and should be snug so it can’t roll off of your head when the chin strap is secured.
Follow the rules of the road. Make sure you obey all traffic signs and signals and adhere to the rules of the road.
Bike lanes are best. Use designated bike routes whenever possible – they’re safer and reduce conflicts with vehicle traffic. Check your local municipality’s website for designated bike routes or check out the Halifax Cycling Coalition’s Comprehensive HRM Bike Map. In Nova Scotia, when a bike lane exists, bike riders are required to ride in the bike lane unless it is impracticable to do so.
Shoulder check. Use hand signals and shoulder check in advance before taking any turns. Remember, drivers frequently fail to yield right-of-way.
Reflect on safety. Be extra visible with reflective gear on your bicycle pedals and wheels. Nova Scotia law requires bikes to have front white lights, and red rear lights from a half hour after sunset until a half hour before sunrise.
Use caution around parked vehicles. Be aware of people in vehicles as well as taxis to avoid getting hit by an opening door. Keep at least once metre away from parked vehicles.
Bike Safety Equipment
Always wear an approved bicycle helmet that meets safety standards (CSA, ANSI, ASTM or SNELL B-95) and occasionally check for signs of wear. Wearing a helmet is the law in Nova Scotia and you could be fined and have your bike impounded up to 30 days for not wearing one.
Remember to plan for poor weather or low light conditions. Your bicycle must be equipped with a front white headlight and a rear red light/reflector. Be extra visible with reflective gear on your pedals and wheels.
Be aware of road markings and what they mean in the area that you’re cycling in. There are many different types of bicycle infrastructure, know your shoulders from your sharrows and learn the local bike signage for your municipality