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McComb Witten Marcoux

Is it ever safer to bike down the middle of the lane instead of off to the side on Vancouver streets?


As any experienced Vancouver bicycle accident attorney will tell you, the science of bicycle accident prevention is undeveloped.

Although safety groups in Canada and around the world compile accident statistics and try to catalogue best practices, riders often face unique circumstances that challenge intuition.

For instance, is it ever safer to ride in the middle of the road, or should you always ride to the side?

Many riders would say that it is never safe to ride in the middle. After all, cars barreling up behind you could easily squash you.

However, there are times when riding on the side of the road is both impractical and dangerous. Following are three examples:

1. A very narrow lane.

In some areas in Vancouver, bike lanes are poorly designed—there is not much space for cyclists to maneuver. Passing cars “give you a hair cut” and make riding a frightful experience.

In this case, depending on road conditions, laws and other factors, riding in the middle may be safer. Taking the whole lane can, at the very least, prevent those “close buzzes.”

2. Many cars parked on the side of the road.

You might think that parked cars would be safer than moving cars. That is not necessarily true!

Many bicycle accidents involve people “getting doored.” In other words, a driver parks on the street and opens the car door—creating a sudden obstacle for a speeding cyclist. To avoid getting doored, you might consider taking the whole lane.


3. Heavy traffic congestion and many cars turning onto the road.

Cars jetting into the road might not see you, if you are off to the side. Drivers tend to scan the middle of the road for vehicular traffic. By taking the whole lane, you should be more visible to these turning cars and thus less likely to get into a collision.

Of course, if you have already been in a crash, you have a lot of work to do. To understand what to do and how to do it, connect with an experienced Vancouver accident lawyer at McComb Witten today. The number is 604-255-9018 and the case evaluation is free. You may also wish to download our free report entitled, Your Family Doctor Could Make or Break Your ICBC Claim, for more information.

Jeffrey S. Witten, B.A., LL.B.
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Personal Injury Lawyer at McComb Witten Marcoux