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10 Secrets to Cycling with Traffic: Part 2 of 10

10 Secrets to Cycling with Traffic

Today we continue a series of 10 posts about cycling with car traffic. These are things we have learned from years of riding in downtown Toronto. Some of these tips you may have seen before in other places, and some will be new.

This is not meant to be a complete list… there are more secrets out there… but here are 10 that you’ll find very useful.

NOTE: These are geared towards downtown cycling, since that’s what I’m most familiar with. These all assume that you already know about proper lighting and safety (ie. helmets are useful, stopping at red lights is advised, etc.) precautions, and know that riding on sidewalks is one of the most unsafe things you can do, for both pedestrians and yourself.

Past tips are found at the bottom of this post – here’s tip #2:

2. Ride In A Straight Line

Don’t ride in the gutters and then swing out into the road to avoid the drains. This throws drivers off-guard because they aren’t thinking about the drains and aren’t expecting you to do this. There’s a very good chance you’ll get honked at if you do this, because nothing scares a driver more than a cyclist swerving in front of their car.

Ride In A Straight LineInstead, imagine that the entire length of the road is lined with gutters. Ride at least that far away from the curb. It’s hard at first, because you may be afraid of those cars driving beside you, but most drivers will pass you at a safe distance the further you ride out from the curb.

This also applies when there are a lot of parked cars… instead of swerving in towards the curb between parked cars before swerving back out again, keep riding in a straight line… it makes you more predictable to car drivers.

Check out the full “10 Secrets to Cycling with Traffic” series:

  1. Drivers Don’t Want to Kill You
  2. Ride in a Straight Line
  3. Play by the Rules
  4. Avoid the “Stoplight Squeeze”
  5. Signal Sensibly
  6. Take That Lane
  7. Make Them THINK You’re Unpredictable
  8. Ride With Others
  9. Avoid the Right Hook
  10. Practice Your Route

Image Credits:

  • My pet peeve in this realm are the folks that veer right in the intersection, often to the crosswalk and then back out. Often I see this done when people are running a red light. I’m not quite sure of the logic as to why they’re doing it in either case…

  • THANK YOU. This one is a big deal. Also, you can avoid many right-turning cars this way.

  • Todd: Agreed – I don’t understand that either. It’s far easier to stay in the same line of travel – not only is it shorter and faster, but there’s no chance of having an incident with a pedestrian using the crosswalk.

  • One addition, and it might seem obvious. Be aware of how many lanes the road is. Sure you can bike in a straight line down the row of parked cars, but if there aren’t any cars in the right lane you should move over to the curb when it makes sense. Cars sometimes want to pass streetcars when a light turns green, and I don’t think you should insert yourself between those two entities.

  • Vu

    I was watching CP24, an edition “Know Your Rights”. Cam Wolley said that if a motorists opens their door and we have a head on collision, we can legally sue them. Is that true?

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