Q&A - Drivers Who Are Too Polite to Cyclists

Q&A ImageIn my community I have noticed an occasional phenomenon of drivers being too 'polite' to bicycles at certain intersections. Specifically at an intersection where one street has the clear right-of-way (with no stop sign) but there is a crosswalk , and the cross-street has a stop sign where a bicyclist (myself) is waiting for traffic to clear so they can proceed - sometimes the driver will stop as if the bicyclist is a pedestrian waiting to cross at the crosswalk, and indicate that the bicycle should cross in front of them.

While I (as a cyclist) greatly appreciate that the drivers are acknowledging the presence of bicycles on the roads & out of politeness feel that in this situation this is a good way to accommodate them, I would like clarification that the cyclist is actually to be treated as a vehicle in this case, with all the rules/rights/privileges that any other vehicle would have on the roads - i.e. that the bicycle is another vehicle that must wait its turn to proceed till the traffic is clear.

If you have ever seen this scenario it can become quite comical as the cyclist waves at the driver to proceed & then the driver waves at the cyclist in return etc. etc. Sometimes I actually give up & dismount the bike, move to the crosswalk & cross as a pedestrian.

Drivers may not realize that they should not encourage a cyclist to cross as a vehicle in front of them, setting up a dangerous situation, as the traffic behind them or coming from the opposite direction may not have the same sense of consideration & will have the right-of-way unless there is a person in the crosswalk.



You are correct the cyclist has the same rights and duties as the driver of a car:

See the story Rights and Duties of Cycle Operators

Waving someone on is a habit to break yourself of in a hurry too. It is possible to become liable under civil law if you give traffic direction to someone, they take it and a mishap results.

The least amount of confusion occurs when drivers take their right of way if it is safe to do so. In this way all road users know what is expected to happen and can proceed without conflict.

Finally, cyclists are not pedestrians and are not to be treated as such unless they are walking beside their bicycle in a crosswalk rather than sitting astride it. In fact, cyclists must not ride in a crosswalk unless authorized by a bylaw or a traffic control device (sign).


Bike Sense - The British Columbia Bicycle Operator's Manual

 I bike pretty much

 I bike pretty much everywhere in Vancouver, although I'll drive maybe once a week or so.  Whether on bike on car I strictly follow the rules of the road, so it used to really bug me when drivers would wave me through when it was not my right of way because then I didn't feel like a part of official traffic.  

I'm more chill now and will give a nice wave and go if I'm waved through instead of the back-and-forth waving of each other through that you mention. "No you first!"  "No I insist, you first!", etc, lol.  

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