Modes of Transportation – On a Bicycle

Cycling: Turning and Changing Lanes

Mastering the proper techniques for turning and changing lanes makes it easier for cyclists to share the road with other vehicles.

Turning techniques

Turning right

1. Look over your left shoulder to see whether the way is clear.Illustration of a cyclist checking over his left shoulder to see if there is a break in traffic before changing lanes.

2. Signal your intention to turn right.Illustration of a cyclist seen from the front showing the two ways to signal one's intention to turn right: 1. the right arm held out horizontally and 2. the left forearm held up at a 90 degree angle.

3. Look over your left shoulder again.Illustration of a cyclist checking over his left shoulder to see if there is a break in traffic before changing lanes.

4. Turn right when the way is clear.

For everyone's safety

  • Ride as close as possible to the right side of the roadway before and after you turn.
  • Yield the right of way to pedestrians who are crossing the road or indicating their intention to cross.
  • Stop for red lights and stop signs before turning. If you are stopped at a red light, wait for the green light before turning, unless turning right on a red light is authorized.
  • Beware of cars that may encroach upon the bike lane or the right lane before turning right. Be sure to:
    • stay behind them;
      OR
    • pass them on the left if you can perform the manoeuvre safely.

Turning right

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Turning left

There are two ways to turn left at an intersection:

  • pedestrian-type turn (L-turn)
  • vehicle-type turn

It all depends on your abilities, traffic density and traffic speed.

Pedestrian-type turn (L-turn)

  1. Cross the street ahead of you to reach to opposite corner.
  2. Position yourself perpendicularly to the street on which you were cycling.
  3. When the way is clear or the traffic light is green, cross the intersection.

Vehicle-type turn

This is the most practical way of turning left, except when traffic is too heavy. Vehicle-type turns can be relatively simple on quiet residential streets, but require greater skill on multiple-lane roads.

1. Look over your left shoulder to see whether the way is clear.Illustration of a cyclist checking over his left shoulder to see if there is a break in traffic before changing lanes.

2. Signal your intention to turn left.Illustration of a cyclist seen from the front, holding his left arm out horizontally to signal his intention to turn left.

3. Look over your left shoulder again.Illustration of a cyclist checking over his left shoulder to see if there is a break in traffic before changing lanes.

4. Move over to the centre of the lane when the way is clear.

5. Look over your left shoulder again.Illustration of a cyclist checking over his left shoulder to see if there is a break in traffic before changing lanes.

6. Signal your intention to turn left.Illustration of a cyclist seen from the front, holding his left arm out horizontally to signal his intention to turn left.

7. Turn and return to the right-hand side of the road.

Turning left

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Turning left on multiple-lane roads (experienced cyclists)

Move from one lane to the next until you are in a good position to turn. You must be able to:

  • glance over your left shoulder without swerving from your lane
  • assess the distances between vehicles
  • signal your intentions to motorists
  • perform the manoeuvre swiftly when there is no danger

These manoeuvres are quite complex and require sufficient skill.

Left-turn lanes

  • Move from one lane to the next until you are in the left-turn lane.
  • Remain on the right-hand side of the turning lane and wait.
  • Turn when there are no vehicles or cyclists coming from the opposite direction and when the traffic light is green. Yield the right of way to pedestrians who are crossing or indicating their intention to cross.

Turning left on multiple-lane roads

1. Look over your left shoulder to see whether the way is clear.Illustration of a cyclist checking over his left shoulder to see if there is a break in traffic before changing lanes.

2. Signal your intention to turn left.Illustration of a cyclist seen from the front, holding his left arm out horizontally to signal his intention to turn left.

3. Look over your left shoulder again.Illustration of a cyclist checking over his left shoulder to see if there is a break in traffic before changing lanes.

4. Change lanes or turn when the way is clear.

Turning left on multiple-lane roads (experienced cyclists)

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Techniques for changing lanes

1. Look over your left shoulder to see if there is a break in traffic.Illustration of a cyclist checking over his left shoulder to see if there is a break in traffic before changing lanes.

2. Signal your intention to change lanes by using the same hand signals as for turning.Illustration of a cyclist seen from the front, holding his left arm out horizontally to signal his intention to turn left.

3. Look over your left shoulder again.Illustration of a cyclist checking over his left shoulder to see if there is a break in traffic before changing lanes.

4. Change lanes when the way is clear.

Useful information

When changing lanes

Vehicles travelling in the other lane have the right of way. Wait until you have enough space to merge between cars safely.

If an obstacle forces you to move to the left

  1. Signal your intention in advance.
  2. Look over your left shoulder to see whether the way is clear.
  3. Maintain a trajectory that is as straight as possible.
  4. Get back as close as possible to the right side of the roadway (initial position) as soon as you pass the obstacle.

Going around vehicles that are turning right

When turning right, motorists do not always check to see whether there are cyclists. Be extra cautious:

  • If a vehicle is turning right: stay behind it or pass it on the left if you can perform the manoeuvre safely.

To go around a vehicle

1.  Look over your left shoulder to see whether the way is clear.Illustration of a cyclist checking over his left shoulder to see if there is a break in traffic before changing lanes.

2. Signal your intention to go left. Illustration of a cyclist seen from the front, holding his left arm out horizontally to signal his intention to turn left.

3.  Look over your left shoulder again.Illustration of a cyclist checking over his left shoulder to see if there is a break in traffic before changing lanes.

4. Pass on the left when it is safe to do so safely.