Sharing the Road: The (Often Overlooked) Cyclist Right of Way

“Share the road” is a common admonition but unfortunately those behind the wheel of a vehicle are often guilty of not following this safety principle — and legal requirement.

In fact, a recent cycling safety study commissioned by the City of Vancouver analyzed collision statistics and found that in “93% of collisions where fault could be determined, cyclists actually had the right of way.”

How can you tell if your rights as a cyclist have been disregarded?

In general, cyclists and drivers have the same duties and rights, governed by the Motor Vehicle Act. For a condensed version of what applies to cyclists check out the Bike Sense Manual.  I would also encourage you to look at The British Columbia Cycling Coalition for more information.

Here are three common situations where the cyclist’s right of way is often overlooked or ignored, usually to the detriment of the cyclist’s safety.

Bike Lanes and “Right hooks”

Bike lanes demarcated by solid white lines vs broken line.  When a bike lane is marked with a solid white line, if a driver wants to make a right turn across a bike lane, he must stay in the vehicle lane until the intersection to avoid a collision when turning right, also known as a “Right Hook”, which, according to Vancouver’s cycling safety study, accounts for 12.6% of reported cycling collisions.

On the other hand, if the bike lane is marked with a broken (dotted) white line, the bike lane may be used by the vehicle as it approaches an intersection. However, it is still the driver’s responsibility to yield to any cyclists, and wait for a safe opportunity to enter the lane.


You’ve heard of this one right? A vehicle door is opened just as a cyclist passes, resulting in an inevitable collision.  Ouch!!  “Dooring” is the most common type of cycling collision  According to s. 203 of the Motor Vehicle Act, a motorist has a duty to check that it is safe to open the door of his vehicle.  As the below video from October 2015 points out, it’s not just the driver doors that can be an issue.


Because cyclists are slower, drivers can pass them in situations that would not be possible if they were a vehicle. If it is safe to do so, a car may cross a single solid yellow line when passing a cyclist, but should not crowd the cyclist. Presently there are no legislated minimum passing distances in BC, but ICBC recommends leaving at least one meter between their vehicle and the cyclist.
Have you encountered situations such as these? If you are a regular cyclist, like me, you probably have had a close call or know someone who has been injured in a collision with a motor vehicle.

If you’ve been injured as a cyclist we encourage you to contact us for a consultation.


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