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10 Secrets to Cycling with Traffic: Part 5 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.

5. Signal Sensibly

signalDrivers are trained to look for signals. Stoplights, stop signs, turn signals, brake lights… all of these things catch the attention of a driver. It’s what they look for to make sure they don’t hit anyone. Letting them know that you’re planning on turning, or coming out into the road more to pass a parked car is just courteous and polite.

Hand-signals can be confusing to drivers… pointing up means turning right?  That’s confusing – especially for drivers who don’t know about cycling.  They may have learned these signals back when they were 16 and getting their driver’s license, but they’ve long since forgotten them.

A far more sensible way to signal (and it’s perfectly legal) is to point in the direction you’re going. It keeps everyone on the same page. Do it well ahead of any turns, so that drivers know that you’re planning to turn, and they can act accordingly to avoid you.


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

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