Riding Your Electric Bike in Traffic - 2021 Guide
Using your electric bike on the road to get to where you want to be is one of the best things you can do for your health and the environment. Not so long ago, the bike was the only way to get around! But now with all types of cars, motorcycles and other types of transport, bikes and electric bikes remain a very popular way for many people to get to where they want to be in an active and exciting manner.
It's important to keep in mind that being on the road means you’re sharing it with all the other traffic. That means the cars, busses, and people! This requires heightened awareness and attention from everyone to ensure everybody gets to where they need to be safely. Accidents happen, and the best way to prevent them is to practice caution and keep these electric bike and cycling tips in mind to protect you in traffic while you’re cruising the city.
Here are some tips to keep you biking safe on the road:
1. Ride in the Middle of a Traffic Lane
Some roads don’t have dedicated bike lanes with barriers. And that’s okay! In most, if not all North American cities, you’re allowed to share the road with cars as long as it’s not a highway. In Toronto, you’re allowed to share roads with cars on roads that have a speed limit of 60km/h or less. To be in the safest position, ride your electric bike in the middle of the lane. This ensures you’re most visible to other cars and other motorists on the road. Typically you will see electric bikers and bikers biking more on the side (because drivers can get impatient) but remember - safety first! Sharing the lane with the cars is your right, and you can exercise it!
2. Avoid Blind Spots
Large trucks, busses and trailers have blind spots, which can be especially dangerous. The rule of thumb here is simple: keep a far, safe distance from these large vehicles, especially when they are turning. Unfortunately, many fatal cycling accidents happen with large vehicles and cyclists as the drivers cannot see the small cyclists in their blindspot. Try to remain visible in all drivers’ rear view or side mirrors at all times.
3. Keep A Safe Distance
Whether you’re a cyclist, pedestrian, or motorist is to maintain a safe distance. Keeping a distance from other vehicles or objects on the road gives you crucial time to react and prevent accidents, and even worse, injuries from happening. If you’re too close, you can risk serious injury and if someone isn’t paying attention, that could be detrimental to your safety. For optimal safety, make sure to keep at least 4 feet of space between you and vehicles, pedestrians etc. In addition, keep a space of 1-2 feet away from the curb to give you enough space and keep you from bumping into the sidewalk!
4. Follow Traffic Signs and Rules
I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve seen people on bikes or e-bikes that run through red lights with no regard for traffic! It’s dangerous and, in some ways, makes all those drivers grow a bit of animosity towards us (because they can’t get away with running a red light so easy). As a cyclist and e-cyclist, your job is to share the road responsibly with other motorists and that means following the same rules.
5. Beware of Doors!
When drivers open their passenger doors, sometimes they don’t look around them, which leads to bike accidents! This is a very common occurrence so you should exercise great caution. Be careful when passing a parallel parked car. As you’re approaching the car check if its on (by looking at the rear lights or exhaust for example). If its on, approach with caution and know that someone is in the vehicle! If you see the driver, try to see if they are moving towards opening the door or just sitting in the car.
6. Make Eye Contact with Drivers
Make yourself known! Eye contact means you see them and they see you. If a driver sees you on the road, the eye contact is your confirmation of this and lets you know that you are much safer. This is very important in places such as intersections, small roads, roundabouts etc.
Using e-bikes on the road is a great way to get around and make the every day commute more enjoyable and safe. Follow these tips to make sure that you’re biking on the road safely and without any problems.
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