Passing a Cyclist Safely

CyclistCyclists are entitled to their share of the highway, just as motor vehicle drivers are. When they are overtaken by a motor vehicle, it is the driver's responsibility to pass the cyclist safely. It is not the cyclists responsibility to get out of the way of the driver if the cyclist is legally occupying the lane.

When you approach a cyclist and prepare to overtake, slow down, just as you would any other vehicle on the road. You need to survey the situation and make sure that it is safe to pass. If it would not be safe to pass another vehicle at that spot, it is probably not safe to pass the cyclist either.

If you have to wait for a gap in traffic to pass, remember to leave a reasonable following distance between your vehicle and the cycle. This will give you more time to be aware and react if the cyclist needs to move left to avoid an obstacle as you follow them.

Leave at least one meter of space between you and the cyclist as you pass by, more if possible. If it is multi-laned highway, change lanes. Remember that if you have a right side mirror that extends a significant distance that the space must be measured from the outside edge of your mirror, not the side of the vehicle.

Don't return to the right lane until you are safely clear of the passed cyclist. The usual rule of thumb is being able to see all of the cyclist in your center rear view mirror.

Finally, you always have a duty of care as a driver. If in doubt, put yourself in the saddle and pass you would wish to be passed if you were cycling.

Reference Links:

Rights and Duties of Operator of Cycle - Section 183 Motor Vehicle Act

Sharing the Road: Cyclists - Learn to Drive Smart, page 85

The BC Cycling Guide (PDF)

Articles on this site related to cycling

Comments

Well Said

Having been brushed (passanger mirror) twice in the past month, and given mere inches a lot of times in the past few years, it is nice to hear. On a positive note, one of the brushing motorists stopped to apologize.

Update on cyclist safety

Having logged close to 1200 km. in 2012, thus far, I have adopted a new practice that seems to make my rides safer, more enjoyable, and less stressful. Rather than taking 0.25 to 0.5 m. from the edge of the lane as I used to I now take the full 1 m. allotment the law provides me. In doing such, I have room to move when drivers do not (or will not) allow me the 1 m. they are required to give me. Leave yourself room to manouver!

1m allotment?

Can you direct me to more information on the law specifying 1m from the edge of the lane? I was under the impression that the MVA requires cyclists to "ride as near as practicable to the right side of the highway".

One Meter

There is no law specifying at least one meter spacing between vehicle and cycle as you pass by, it is just good sense to do so.

You are correct, but be careful of mistaking practicable with possible. It also says: (3) Nothing in subsection (2) (c) requires a person to ride a cycle on any part of a highway that is not paved.

And then what?

What I haven't seen mentioned yet in this thread is what the driver is supposed to do to complete the act of passing. Referring to MVA section 157(1)(b):

Duty when overtaking

157  (1) Except as provided in section 158, the driver of a vehicle overtaking another vehicle

(a) must cause the vehicle to pass to the left of the other vehicle at a safe distance, and

(b) must not cause or permit the vehicle to return to the right side of the highway until safely clear of the overtaken vehicle.

When I learned how to drive (decades ago), we were taught that once you've passed the other vehicle, you don't move back into your lane until you can see the front of the other vehicle in your rear-view mirror.

That technique is even more critical when passing a cyclist (a vulnerable road user). In my 20+ years of cycle-commuting, I've experienced first-hand, countless times, impatient drivers who pass me then cut back in far too close for comfort, often missing my front wheel by mere inches. I think what happens is that as soon as the cyclist being passed disappears from the driver's peripheral vision, the driver thinks it's okay to move back over.

Author of "Letters to a Driving Nation: Exploring the Conflict between Drivers and Cyclists." www.brucebutler.ca

Great Point...

...and one I missed in the original article.

Thanks for raising it!

The flip side of the coin.

So the other day, I'm driving a Senior's Bus north on Willingdon Avenue between Lougheed and Hastings; it's a steady upgrade there and a relatively busy arterial with two lanes in each direction. There's no room to share a lane with a bicycle, and in fact the City of Burnaby are busy constructing a deluxe new bike path that parallels the road a few meters away.

There's a slow moving cyclist ahead, riding beside the curb in my lane at a slow pace; so I reduce my speed to match his, staying well back, and when traffic in the adjacent lane has gone by (including the cars that switched into that lane to get by my vehicle) I changed lanes to pass him, did so carefully, giving him the maximum of space, and then returned to the right lane in anticipation of a right turn I needed to make a few blocks ahead.

After travelling another block, the traffic light at Parker ahead turned amber, so I lifted off the throttle and eased up to what was now a red light, and stopped adjacent to the curb; the lanes are quite narrow, but also I didn't want to go through that whole passing thing again with the cyclist.

So what does he do, rather than stopping in place behind my bus? Weaves around on the left, between the lanes, then back in front of my bumper.

Illegal, rude, dangerous and pointless. Share the road goes both ways.

 

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