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.

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


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.

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