A growing number of Canadians are putting wheels to pavement and choosing cycling as a viable way to get around. Recent studies show that bike sales are steadily increasing every year, suggesting a greater acceptance towards this active mode of transportation.
But a new survey shows attitudes towards cyclists remain conflicted, even among cyclists. The survey, commissioned by KANETIX.ca and conducted by Leger, polled 1174 Canadians who drive or cycle as their primary mode of transportation about their thoughts on sharing the road.
Almost three quarters of all people polled agreed that cyclists are unpredictable and hard to see, and 69 per cent agreed that cyclists do not obey the rules of the road. These issues vary from city to city. For example, 85 per cent of Montrealers agree that cyclists are unpredictable and hard to see, compared to 63 per cent of Vancouverites. People who regularly cycle were less likely to agree with these views, but a considerable number-between one-third and half-do have issues with their fellow cyclists.
Improving bike infrastructure
The majority of Canadians support increased investments in bike lanes in their town or city, but this is where the divide between cyclists and drivers becomes apparent. Ninety-four per cent of cyclists would like to see improved bike infrastructure, compared to 62 per cent of drivers.
A relatively new school of thought is also introduced here, the idea of licensing cyclists. Many cities have considered this, but in Canada none have taken the steps to regulate cyclists. There are many reasons for this including costs and education, but still a number of Canadians are in favour of the idea. Of those surveyed, 61 per cent of drivers think cyclists should be licensed if they are driving on city streets, while just 32 per cent of cyclists share this sentiment.
Some poll results could provide insights into why drivers and cyclists are divided on these issues. In many cases, it boils down to safety and fear. The majority of drivers surveyed said cyclists make driving more dangerous, that cyclists think they own the road, and that cyclists make them nervous while driving. On the flipside, almost 100 per cent of cyclists reported that cars make them nervous while cycling. The majority of cyclists also feel drivers do not pay attention to cyclists on the road. These polarized views were consistent throughout the survey.
Understanding the rules of the road
Canadians are pretty confident that they understand the rules of the road. In fact, 99 per cent of those polled feel this way. Additionally, 96 per cent reported that they understand the laws in the event of a traffic accident. Still, more than 7,500 cyclists are seriously injured every year in Canada. Here's what you can do to help prevent accidents from happening, whether you're riding on two wheels or sitting behind one.
Tips on sharing the road
- Commute: Most bicycle accidents and injuries occur during the afternoon rush hour, so whether you're driving or cycling always be extra vigilant during this time.
- Intersections: Cyclists are more likely to get killed at an intersection or at an area with traffic signals than anywhere else; use extra caution at intersections.
- Right turns: Cyclists, be cautious of drivers making right hand turns and do not pass them on the inside. Lag behind or pass them on the left, being sure to check over your shoulder to ensure safety. Drivers, when making right-hand turns, double check that a cyclist is not in your blind spot.
- Left turns: Drivers, be aware of cyclists going straight when you're making a left turn. Cyclists, slow down at intersections to prepare for any unexpected left-hand turns.
- Personal space: Give each other enough room.
- Visibility: Cyclists, ensure your bike has reflectors on it, wear a headlight or use a bike light at night, and wear bright clothes. Do you what you can to be as visible as possible, especially when cycling at night.
- Signals: Use signals to alert drivers and cyclists alike to any forthcoming turns.
Biking, Insurance and Sharing The Road
- View: Infographic: Bikes vs Cars
- Read: Your Bike And The Law - Tickets, Demerit Points, Accidents & Insurance
Leger conducted a survey of 1174 Canadians who drive or cycle as their primary mode off transportation. The survey was completed online between April 15 and April 17 using Leger's online panel, LegerWeb. A probability sample of the same size would yield a margin of error of +/- 2.9 per cent, 19 times out of 20. Panel members are randomly selected to receive email invitations to the individual surveys. As a result, cyclists represented a considerably smaller sample size than drivers.