Here are handy tips for using Brampton COVID-19 bike lanes. These are good safety messages for cycling in traffic!
This video shows how to safely enter and exit the bike lanes from intersections and adjacent pathways.
Avoid the dreaded “Right Hook” at Intersections
Cyclists must be constantly aware of their surroundings, especially at intersections. A vehicle making a right turn may not see, or may misjudge the speed of the cyclist. This is the greatest possibility for the “right hook”. Assume the driver does not see you. Slow down, even if you have a green light and the right of way. Do a shoulder check to see if a vehicle is signalling to turn right or even if you THINK they might turn right. If the traffic light is red, you can stop at the end of the COVID-19 construction barrels, short of the intersection. If you are more confident, you can approach the intersection stop line and take the lane. If you are still more confident, you can move to the left side of the curb lane at the stop line to allow vehicles indicating a right turn to make their turn on the red. Take the middle of the lane as the light changes to green to make sure no one passes you on the right.
Treat every driveway as an intersection! This is especially true at the driveway entrance/exit to retail stores and malls! As noted above, assume the vehicles will not see you and will misjudge your speed. Slow down and make eye contact with the driver. You can choose to wave them through, especially if you are not sure they are stopping for you to proceed. Similarly, assume the drivers exiting the mall will not see you.
Passing in the COVID-19 bike lanes
The Brampton COVID-19 bike lanes are not wide enough to pass another cyclist, leaving 6′ (2 metres) of distance, as per current public health guidelines. They are also not designed as a race course. Some of the users may not have ever cycled on the road before. If you come up behind a slower cyclist and want to pass, do a shoulder check to make sure the traffic lane is clear, signal left and pull out from between the construction barrels to pass. When you have cleared the cyclist by at least two bike lengths, signal right and carefully pull back between the barrels into the bike lane.
There is no parking in the COVID-19 bike lanes. Use the same procedure as above to safely pass a vehicle.
When the illegally parked vehicle is narrower, there might appear to be room to pass the vehicle by staying within the COVID-19 construction barrel lane. You should only do so if you can clearly see that there is no one in the driver seat. The driver could give you the “DOOR PRIZE”, by opening their door just as you try to pass! Door prizes and right hooks are the dreaded two-some for lack of attention when cycling in traffic! It may be the driver’s fault, but the cyclist pays the price with their health and or bike.
Yield to Buses
Brampton reduced the number of bus stops along Vodden Street during the COVID-19 emergency. Note the installation of ‘bike yield to bus’ signs at bus stop shelters. Construction barrels end shortly before the bus stop, so buses can pull up to the curb. Cyclists should shoulder check as they approach bus stops and yield if a bus is coming. This is standard practice for cycling and driving on any street. Transit has the Right of Way.
Note the cyclist on the sidewalk in the above photo. Although this is illegal in Brampton, cyclists routinely do this if they don’t feel safe sharing the road. Only kids’ bikes with wheel bases of less than 50 cm are permitted on sidewalks (soon to become under 12 years of age). During COVID-19 emergency, an adult riding on the sidewalk is a problem for keeping a safe physical distance from pedestrians. These bike lanes will encourage cyclists to get off the sidewalk!
Don’t block the Bike lane
If you need to stop, be courteous and pull up onto the boulevard so you don’t block the bike lane.
Use the COVID-19 Bike Network Map to find your way
Thirty of these COVID-19 Bike Network Maps have been placed along the interim bike lanes and the loops to essential services. This stylized map shows “you are here”, plus the network of adjacent streets and pathways. Check out this blog post with links to the interactive city map. It allows you to zoom in for precise route planning to your essential destination.
Before and After on Vodden Street – a feeling of safety and comfort
Before the COVID-19 bike lanes on Vodden Street, we seldom saw anyone cycling, except confident riders. Since the bike lanes were installed, we have noticed much more ridership within the protection of the interim construction barrels. Interestingly, there are more people walking on the sidewalks too. Perhaps the barrier of a bike lane separating pedestrians from the 4-5 lanes of traffic makes people feel more comfortable. This is part of the concept of a “Complete Street” for all road users.
Suddenly, we have Families with Children cycling on Vodden Street!
Essential Cycling Trips on Vodden Street COVID-19 bike lanes
More people are using bikes for essential travel — to work, instead of taking transit, to appointments and for essential trips.
The grocery bag indicates this cyclist has been out for an essential trip!
City of Brampton – an Early Adopter!
Share the Road Cycling Coalition, and TCAT hosted a webinar on April 22, 2020, where BikeBrampton, City of Brampton staff and Councillor Santos presented our experiences on Making Space for Physical Distancing. Here is the link to the webinar video recording. Share the Road has created a new webpage that is full of helpful resources on Rebalancing Streets.
Other COVID-19 Blog posts
BikeBrampton offers their thanks to our volunteer cycling members, Mayor Patrick Brown, Council, especially AT champion Councillor Rowena Santos, Brampton Staff, including Transportation Planning, Traffic Services, Communications and all the various departments that have made these COVID-19 bike lanes come to life so quickly and efficiently!