Tips for safe cycling in Yellowknife

Spring is here, and most cyclists in Yellowknife are once again joining traffic. But with more bikes on the road, there seems to be more confusion about traffic rules. Here is a list of some of the main rules for safe cycling.

Cyclists report confusion among drivers about rules of sharing the road

Spring is here, and most cyclists in Yellowknife are once again joining traffic.

Doug Gillard, with the City of Yellowknife, said cyclists must obey the same rules as any other vehicle on the road. (CBC)

But with more bikes on the road, there is some confusion about traffic rules.

"I just find that when I've biked down South, you follow the rules of traffic, so if you're going to turn left you would pull into the left lane, you would stop at the stop sign. Just like totally act the same as a normal vehicle," said cyclist Mary Caroline Cox.

"But in Yellowknife it just gets a little confusing because when you pull in and put your left signal out with your arm, traffic just stops. It just gets really confusing."

Cox added that there seems to be confusion around what the rules are for motorists and cyclists alike.

Another cyclist tweeted that he doesn’t feel safe on the road.

While others said some cyclists are reckless:

On Facebook, one person had strong feelings about sharing the road:

"Bikers should not be on the road! The sidewalks are plenty big enough for cyclists and pedestrians, especially when the bikers are going super slow (not the speed limit)," said Ruthanne Young.

But some motorists support cyclists:

Others don't think there is a problem at all:

To try to clear some of the confusion, here’s a list of some rules of the road:

1. Same rules for cyclists and motorists

When choosing to ride a bicycle on the road, cyclists have to follow the same rules as any other vehicle on the road. Rules for their behaviour is covered under the Motor Vehicles Act.

Doug Gillard, who is in charge of bike safety for the city, said cyclists have as much right to drive on the road as any other vehicle.

"Under the law, you are required to share the road, whether you want to share the road or not. It's important so that people operate safely. Bicycles are on the road, they are allowed to be on the road, you need to give them their space. In an accident between a motor vehicle and a bicycle, the person that's going to suffer the most is the person on the bike. And I don't think anybody in a vehicle wants that to happen," he said.

2. Helmets aren’t mandatory

While the city is in talks to make helmets mandatory for certain activities such as skateboarding, currently, there is no law around helmets.

Gillard shared this story about them:

"We had a bike rodeo 10 plus years ago where a young girl won a helmet as a door prize. She already had one, so her and her mom went to Canadian Tire and exchanged it and got her mom a helmet, and her mom never wore a helmet. And two days later her mom went right over her handle bars, landed on her head, destroyed the helmet but saved her life."

3. Illegal to bike on the sidewalk

While Young may want bikes on the sidewalks, the city doesn't agree. Cyclists must walk their bikes when they use sidewalks, or they face a $75 fine.

There are also many bike paths in the city, and you can view a map of them below.