The bike lanes in Edmonton’s core are now open, and I have received a number of comments that people are concerned about how to use them, or how to adjust their driving habits and behaviours to respond to the new bike lanes on the road. There are new signals, new roadway symbols, and more modes of transportation on our roads now, and it is important for everyone to know how to use these lanes.
The city has released an education booklet on how to use the bike lanes, which you can find here. It is important for drivers, bikers, and pedestrians to know the rules in order for these lanes to be a success and for everyone to share the road safely. This is everyone’s responsibility.
Drivers: it is important that you are aware of the cyclists around you. As a driver, you are in the safest position for yourself, and are navigating the most dangerous part of shared lanes for those around you. Therefore it is important that you are always paying attention to ensure the safety of those around you. Look both directions, and shoulder check before turning, even when turning right. There may be a cyclist coming up the right side, and not checking behind you before turning right could be dangerous. Cyclists have the right of way on the bike lanes, so yield to bikes when crossing the bike lane. And watch out for the new signs indicating changes to turning rules—there are places where you are no longer able to turn right on a red light.
Cyclists: you are still considered a vehicle. This means that you need to follow the rules of the road, just as you would if you were driving a car. Cyclists need to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks, if you are at an intersection with bike signals you must follow these signals; watch for signs and paint symbols indicating the direction of travel in the protected bike lanes, learn how to use the bike turn boxes, and make sure you are looking for vehicles when on the road! Drivers are still adjusting to the bike lanes, and in the event of an accident, you are the more vulnerable party.
- Striped green paint: indicates that a bike lane is crossing an intersection or accessway such as an alleyway or entrance into a parking lot.
- Cyclists: look both directions when crossing
- Drivers: look both directions when crossing, yield to cyclists in the bike lanes, do not block the bike lane, and watch out for the new signs indicating changes to turning lanes
- Green bike turn boxes: painted intersections to provide cyclists with a safe way to turn left or right.
- Cyclists: move into the green box and position yourself in your new direction of travel. Wait at the red light, and when the light turns green you may proceed through the intersection. Keep in mind that crossing to lanes of traffic to make a left or right turn from a protected bike lane is not permitted. This is why the boxes exist.
- Drivers: do not stop in the bike turn box. When the light is red, stop behind the painted white line behind the bike turn box.
- Bike box: a box at an intersection (not the green turning box) that allows cyclists to pull in front of waiting traffic at a signalized intersection, making cyclists more visible and giving them a head start when turning.
- Cyclists: when the light is red, enter the bike box and position yourself in your direction of travel. When the light turns green you may proceed through the intersection first, followed by drivers. If the light is already green when you get there, proceed as normal to go straight or to turn right (you can find an information video here). If you are turning left, yield to cars, and then move into the bike box when it is safe to do so (you can find an information video here).
- Drivers: if the light is red, stop behind the white line behind the bike box. When the light turns green, proceed after the cyclists. If the light is already green, proceed as normal through the intersection. Keep in mind that some right turns are not permitted on a red light for cars. Look for these signs.
- White squares at crosswalks: when a shared-use path crosses an intersection, the crosswalk will be lined with white squares. They identify shared bicycle and pedestrian crossings, and may be controlled by a pedestrian walk light and traffic signal
- Cyclists: you do not need to dismount your bike to cross. At a crosswalk with a pedestrian light make sure you cross when the walk light is on. At a crosswalk without a pedestrian light, yield to cars and pedestrians before entering the roadway, and cross only when it is safe to do so.
- Drivers: be aware that people on bikes may be riding across and pedestrians may be crossing
Bike lanes are so important to keep cyclists safe. Please be cautious when cycling or driving, and keep an eye out for each other.