Drivers have to share the road with many different people and vehicles—pedestrians, buses, delivery trucks and cyclists. It’s important for drivers to be aware of cyclists in particular when they are on the road, in order to prevent accidents. In fact, recently in the news, it was stated that Toronto is planning to implement new bike lanes in the downtown core as well as in Scarborough. This makes it even more crucial for new drivers to be prepared to safely drive alongside cyclists due to the influx of cyclists to come. Here are some of the most important things to know about bike lanes when driving.

Shared Lanes

Markings on the pavement known as “sharrows” help to keep everyone safe by designating which lanes are for cyclists and which lanes are for drivers. Lanes that have a bicycle icon and two arrows painted on them are shared lanes, which means they are to be used by both cars and bicycles. On wider streets, sharrows are painted to direct motorists and cyclists to ride side-by-side in a single lane. On more narrow streets, sharrows are painted to direct drivers and cyclists to proceed single file.

Bicycle Lanes

Lanes that are painted with a bicycle icon and a diamond are lanes that are exclusively for bicycles. Drivers may not use this lane to drive, stand, stop or park. Blocking a bicycle lane even for a moment is a violation of traffic law.

Contra-Flow Lanes

If you see a yellow line, a bicycle icon and a diamond, it’s a contra-flow lane. Contra-flow lanes allow cyclists to travel in both directions on streets that are one-way for other vehicles. The lane that travels against the flow of traffic is for cyclists only. Cyclists travelling in the direction of traffic ride in a shared, mixed-use lane.

Everyone deserves to get from point A to point B safely, no matter what kind of vehicle they ride. Obeying traffic laws and being cautious on the road is the best way to avoid conflict with cyclists. Contact us at Ambitious Drivers to learn the skills to make you a safe and confident driver.