safety in numbers at intersection

Bikes belong in Intersections

A bicycle is a vehicle, allowed on the road. Intersections are the most dangerous part of roads. Let’s look at how motor vehicles and bikes can safely share this space.

The term ‘bikes’ are used through this post to refer to all micro-mobility devices as defined by Province of Ontario. Please consult the Act and By-Law links below for the latest updates and precise wording. Consult your legal counsel for personal advice. Your friends at BikeBrampton are not lawyers.

We don’t always have the benefit of a large group of cyclists to provide “safety in numbers”, that can easily be seen by drivers. The following offers tips for both cyclists and drivers on how to behave at intersections. Many cyclists also drive cars. Sharing the road is an equity issue for using a public space.

Every driveway is an intersection

every driveway is an intersection

Cyclists need to be aware of motor vehicles entering and exiting private and commercial driveways. This is one of the reasons that adults cycling on sidewalks is unsafe and illegal (Brampton By-laws: only bike wheels less than 50cm diameter are allowed on sidewalks). Bushes and trees at the end of driveways can obscure the driver’s view of the sidewalk and roadway.

We expect everyone to behave well on roads and there is no excuse not to drive and cycle responsibly. However, the safest assumption is that drivers do not see cyclists on roads or sidewalks, whether they are dressed in black or high-visibility clothing. Drivers turning right are the least likely to see cyclists, mainly because they automatically check over their left shoulder and have not trained themselves to look right as well. They frequently misjudge the speed of cyclists, thinking they can pass and turn right ahead of the bike.

So, be alert to all directions whether you have a green light or not! Always be prepared to stop quickly!

Bike Lane ends before intersection

bike lane ends before intersection

Some bike lanes end because the lane narrows, and/or a right turn lane takes the extra space. Drivers need to be cautious of merging cyclists. Cyclists need to shoulder check and indicate with a hand signal that they are merging into the centre of the lane. It is not safe (nor legal) for a driver to pass a cyclist within 1 metre from the side mirror.

When the bike lane ends this way, it is less safe for cyclists.

Bike Lane dashed line before intersection

dashed line before intersection

A dashed line approaching the intersection indicates that drivers may carefully merge into a bike lane to turn right, if there is no cycling traffic. The driver needs to check over their right shoulder before they merge. These intersection treatments are at a few locations in Brampton.

Due to reduced safety for the cyclist, this design is being phased out. It is generally not selected for repainting or new construction. We will be happy when this intersection treatment is no longer used in Brampton.

Bike Lane solid line before intersection

bike lane solid line before intersection

The bike lane with a solid line to the intersection means drivers must stay clear of the bike lane, and are not permitted to merge. Drivers may turn right once the way is clear and must turn from their active lane. They must shoulder check to make sure there is no cycling traffic in the bike lane. Short of gold standard barrier protection, we are happy with this intersection treatment.

solid bike lane line and yield sign

When drivers, like this car, cross into the bike lane to turn right, they put cyclists at risk, as well as drivers who may be correctly turning from the active lane. We have seen near-collisions when cars try to turn right from two lanes into one.

drivers yield to cyclists

Some intersections have this ‘drivers yield to cyclists in bike lanes sign’. Drivers should yield to cyclists in bike lanes whether they see this sign or not!

Bike Lane solid line with green paint

bike lane with green bike box

Some intersections have green paint in the bike lane to emphasize potential conflict zones to drivers. The City is using green paint more frequently as roads are resurfaced, repainted or constructed. This is a good safety measure that we applaud.

The box in front of the vehicle ‘stop bar’ is referred to as a “Bike Box”. Drivers must stop behind the wide painted bar at all stop signs and traffic signals. If they are turning right, they may carefully proceed when clear, and they have checked for cycling traffic coming from behind and at a right angle across their path.

Cyclists may use these bike boxes to position themselves for a left hand turn. This is considered safer for less confident cyclists, than merging into traffic lanes to access a left turn lane.


crossride with signal

Crossrides are located at intersections and are used to link sections of multi-use paths. They may also be used at mid-block to allow cyclists to safely cross a busier road.

Crossrides usually have bike signals that may operate in a synchronized manner with the general traffic lights. (This is the situation on Regional roads and in most municipalities like Toronto and Mississauga.) At most Brampton intersections, there is a ‘beg’ button that must be pushed to activate the bike signal to turn green. BikeBrampton is advocating for synchronized timing. It is more efficient and cyclists still must take care at intersections anyway. We are the vulnerable road users.

Crossrides may be the ‘separate’ type (as shown above), with the typical ‘zebra’ painted crossing for pedestrians.

crossride on Kennedy Rd

Crossrides may alternatively be the ‘combined’ type like this one on Kennedy Rd., where bikes travel on either side of the pedestrian crossing as demonstrated.

Cyclists must note they are never to cross INSIDE the zebra lines on any pedestrian crossing! This is illegal under the Ontario Highway Traffic Act. Ride to one side or the other, or bikes can be walked through the intersection.



Roundabouts are becoming more popular in Brampton. They slow traffic, and eliminate the need for expensive traffic lights. The lane usually narrows, causing the bike lane to merge into ‘sharrows’ (bike symbol with 2 arrows). The cyclist takes the middle of the lane since there is no room for a driver to pass. Arm signals should be used to indicate direction of entrance and exit from the roundabout.

Cyclists and drivers need to pay attention to who is entering and leaving the roundabout. The person in the roundabout has the right of way. When two people arrive at the same time, the one on the right has the right of way to enter the roundabout. This is the same principle as a 4-way stop intersection.

‘Pork chop’ intersection island

pork chop island

These pork chops are used to narrow the crossing for pedestrians and cyclists on very wide roads. They are located between the traffic lanes and the right turn ‘slip lane’. This example at Humberwest and Castlemore is an extra large one. Usually they are tiny and can barely hold the pedestrians that may have just exited a bus. Cyclists and pedestrians must be very careful since motor vehicles may use these slip lanes to make right turns quickly. Region of Peel recently removed several of these pork chops from Bovaird Drive intersections. This is a safety improvement.

City of Brampton is a Bicycle Friendly Community at the bronze level, according to Share the Road Cycling Coalition. As we build infrastructure, work towards silver, and the Ontario Traffic Manuals are updated, our infrastructure will improve. Some of these examples will disappear and be replaced with safer options for all road users. This is the way of equity for our diverse population!