What are bike boxes and how do they affect you?
Changes to our driving community often arise based on issues raised by multiples of people. For many years bike safety has been a concern to many and as a cyclist myself and as a parent of 4 kids who cycle a lot, I can fully understand just how scary it can sometimes be while riding a bike on public streets. However, when laws and communities change to help cyclists, drivers of vehicles also need to be informed so they can all work together for a safe mobile community. This is one of those times.
My local community has put out some bike boxes at a few intersections. There are a number of communities that have done the same. These are designed to allow cyclists to have a safety zone in front of motorised vehicles to come out of a bike lane for the purpose of making a turn onto a crossroad, especially while waiting at a red light. This area is usually marked with large bike stencils and are placed in front of the stop line. Some communities have different coloured paint, like this green paint in the photo, to allow it to stand out from other road markings.
A bike box minimizes confusion between turning cyclists and motorised traffic. The most common use of a bike box is to assist left-turning cyclists, but they have other unique applications such as for right-turning cyclists on one-way streets. They help the drivers of vehicles to better see the cyclist before they proceed.
So this is how it works. For cyclists – when the traffic signal is red, use the bike box to move to the far side of the street to make your turn onto the cross street, provided the bike lane isn’t already in the position you need to make your turn. For drivers of vehicles – the first of two white stop lines defines where you are to stop when the signal is red. If turns are permitted “on red” at the intersection, you may advance into the bike box to make a turn provided the bike box is not occupied by a cyclist.
To have a better understanding, check out this excellent video with detailed information. http://guelph.ca/living/getting-around/bike/cycling-facilities/ Check out the website of your local community to see if bike boxes are being placed within your community. We all need to share the road, regardless of how much of a hurry you may be in. But we also need to keep up to date to changes within our driving community.