How to Be a Civilized Cyclist

June 28, 2015


Summer is in full swing here in Toronto and fabulous events like Pride and the Pan Am games will be bringing lots of visitors to the city. That also means lots of traffic, which means it’s time for me to get back on my bicycle.

I want to emphasize that I am a recreational cyclist and my goal on my bike is to get from point A to B in an eco-friendly way and to ideally have a pleasant ride along the way.

But in order for me and my fellow riders to have that pleasant ride that means that we all must observe appropriate bicycle etiquette. Here are my top five etiquette tips for getting behind the handlebars:

1. Do not “hog” the bike lane

If you are fortunate enough to be in a bike lane, be sure to travel on the right side so you can be passed and never EVER ride two across so you can have a chat with your friend. I know this one sounds ridiculous but I saw two gentlemen doing just this the other morning and it created quite the bicycle traffic jam behind them!

2. Wait your turn at lights

I know everyone is in a rush to get where they need to be during the morning commute but the polite thing to do is cue up at the traffic light behind your first rider and wait single file. I accept that there are some very fast cyclists who “need” to be up at the front and for you few I suppose I don’t mind if you have to go up there, but for most cyclists there is only so fast you can go when you are navigating downtown and traffic lights so you aren’t going to get there any faster if you cut in front.

3. Do not spit!!

I can’t believe I have to say this but please dear friends on bikes if you feel the desperate urge to spit — do the cyclist behind you and the pedestrians beside you a favour and wait until you get to your final destination.

4. Observe the rules of the road

One of the reason cyclists get a bad reputation with drivers is that drivers feel they are unpredictable because they don’t always follow the rules of vehicle traffic. So cyclists, please obey stop signs, use hand signals and communicate with drivers using your bell and eye contact and do not dart and weave unpredictably between cars — it just makes everyone stressed out, including me if I’m riding my bike behind you!

5. For cars: Please remember cyclists are people too and we don’t wear armour!

If you give us the space we need and don’t intentionally try and run us over I promise we’ll all get where we need to go in a positive and punctual way.

Happy Cycling!