You may have noticed more bikes on the road. The shift to smart mobility around the world means that alternative, greener modes of transportation are being encouraged, such as cycling. Bike-sharing, part of the emerging micro-mobility industry, is expanding in North America and Asia. This year, Uber acquired Jump, an e-bike ride-sharing company.
Bicycle Safety Statistics: The Numbers Are Not Good
Unfortunately, the statistics on bicycle safety are not good. In the U.S., 840 cyclists were killed in 2016 in motor vehicle crashes, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA). The Wall Street Journal reports that bicycle-related deaths and traumatic injuries are on the rise. That trend is echoed by the European Commission.
Eye-Tracking Study Finds More Than Half of Drivers Don’t Look for Cyclists and Pedestrians
A recent study conducted by researchers at the University of Toronto Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering found that drivers are failing to do proper safety checks for people biking and walking before turning.
Researchers tracked the eye movements of drivers at busy intersections in Toronto and found that more than half (11 of 19 drivers) failed to scan for pedestrians or cyclists before turning right. What’s more, the drivers who drove more frequently in the downtown area, were more likely to make “attentional failures.”
The study group included drivers aged 35 to 54 and having more than three years driving experience.
Other research from Western University in London, Ontario points to the need for drivers to pay more attention on the road. The study revealed that of 111 cyclist deaths due to a vehicle collision, 43 percent resulted from the cyclist being struck from behind.
We Asked the Experts for Tips on Sharing the Road
What should fleets know about bicycle safety to help drivers avoid dangerous situations? To find out, we sent a list of questions to Cycle Toronto, a not-for-profit organization that is working “to make Toronto a healthy, safe and vibrant cycling city for all.” Their #BuildtheGrid campaign champions building a connected network of protected bike lanes and routes across the city.
Sarah Bradley, Communications Manager at Cycle Toronto, shared advice for both fleet drivers and cyclists. Please read and share these important bicycle safety tips for drivers.
Tips For Fleet Drivers:
We often find that people driving simply aren’t aware of basic guidelines that make a world of difference for people riding bikes, particularly in busy urban environments where there isn’t a lot of space. Remember that we all want to get to our destination safely.
Here are a few things to keep in mind while sharing the road:
- When in doubt, communicate! This goes without saying, but signalling well in advance of turning, not switching lanes suddenly, checking your mirrors and making eye contact at four-way stops will help people biking understand your intentions.
- Look for people biking! The easiest way to avoid a near-miss or collision is to look out for vulnerable road users. When you’re not expecting to see people biking or walking, you probably won’t see them.
What are some of the things drivers should be aware of when sharing the road with cyclists?
The number one piece of advice we would offer to people driving is to slow down and leave enough space for people riding bikes to maneuver safely. Remember: obstacles and hazards on the road that you might not notice while driving can cause a person biking to swerve or risk hitting a pothole or sewer grate, which can throw them off balance or even off their bike.
Did you know drivers in Ontario must adhere to the one-meter safe passing rule under the Ontario Highway Traffic Act? This means that when passing a person biking, drivers of motor vehicles are required to maintain a minimum distance of one metre (see the MTO Drivers’ Handbook). This ensures that everyone has the space they need to travel safely and predictably.
What can cyclists do to ensure they are safe on the road?
Riding a bike can be a convenient, affordable, healthy and a fun way to move around the city! Keeping a few basic principles in mind will ensure people biking can get to where they need to go safely and confidently. We would recommend people biking to be seen, be heard and be safe.
- Be seen: Wear reflectors at night and equip your bike with a front white light and a rear red light.
- Be heard: Make sure you have a bell or horn on your bike. Ringing a bell lets people know you are approaching. This is especially important when passing parked, pulled-over or turning cars. A gentle ring or call when passing another person biking can also go a long way to making everyone’s experience on the road more pleasant.
- Be safe and know the rules of the road: if you’re new to cycling or returning to riding after a long break, we recommend taking a course, signing up for a workshop or joining a group to build confidence riding on city streets. The more practice you get around navigating different environments (while in a supportive group), the greater your ability will be to get to where you need to go — and arrive refreshed, not stressed.
For cyclists, wearing bike helmets and increasing visibility through clothing choices and lights are essential to safety. Following the rules of road is everyone’s responsibility.
Although sharing the road may feel difficult at times, if everyone works together, we can eliminate road accidents and injuries.