We don’t often consider just how overwhelming intersections can be. All kinds of people, using different methods to get around — walking, cycling, and driving — taking turns to traverse space.

For this to work, it’s important to understand this key point: Yielding the right-of-way.

Right Of Way

“Right of way” refers to the legal right of a road user to proceed with precedence over others in a particular situation or place. Put simply, it means “who’s turn is it”.

It’s been written that “right of way is given, not taken“. For this practice to work, those who do not have precedence must yield, or give way. Importantly, if someone erroneously proceeds into an intersection ahead of you, you are expected to yield to avoid a collision.

Options For Traversing An Intersection With A Bicycle

Note: Much of this information is available on The Official Ministry of Transportation (MTO) Driver’s Handbook.

Dismount and Walk (Crosswalk)

Bicycle, Dismounted at Crosswalk

You might decide that an intersection is too busy, or that you are otherwise uncomfortable using your bicycle, and would feel more comfortable walking through the intersection. In this case, follow advice for pedestrian traffic.

  • Cross at marked crosswalks or crossovers.
  • Preferably, confirm that drivers can see you before you cross. Try to make eye contact before you step into the road.

At A Pedestrian Traffic Signal

  • Cross at the start of the “Walk” signal.
  • Do not start to cross if you see a flashing “Do Not Walk” signal. If you already started to cross, you can complete your crossing. Otherwise, you are now expected to give way.
  • Watch for turning traffic.
  • Do not cross on a solid “Do Not Walk” signal. This signal means that you are now expected to give way.

Use Bicycle Facilities (Crossrides)

Crossride Intersection

Some intersections will have space specifically for bicycle use. These spaces are called “crossrides”, as opposed to crosswalks which are meant for on-foot pedestrian traffic only.

There are different kinds of crossrides. Each work a little bit differently in how they separate bicycle and pedestrian traffic.

  • Watch for pedestrians.
  • Cross at marked crossrides.
  • Preferably, confirm that drivers can see you before you cross. Try to make eye contact before you ride into the road.

At A Bicycle Traffic Light

  • Cross at the start of the green light.
  • Do not start to cross if the light turns yellow. If you already started to cross, you can complete your crossing.
  • Watch for turning traffic.
  • Do not cross on a red light. This signal means that you are now expected to give way to others.

Use General Traffic Facilities (The Road)

Finally, some people might feel perfectly comfortable using their bicycle in the same general road space and facilities as people using automobiles. In this case, the same expectations for motorists also apply for cyclists.

  • Watch for pedestrians.
  • You must yield the right-of-way to a vehicle approaching the intersection before you.
  • If two vehicles come to an uncontrolled intersection from different roads at the same time, the vehicle on the left must yield to the vehicle on the right.
  • At an intersection with stop signs at all corners, you must yield the right-of-way to the first vehicle to come to a complete stop.
  • At any intersection where you want to turn left or right, you must yield the right-of-way. If you are turning left, you must wait for approaching traffic to pass or turn and for pedestrians in or approaching your path to cross.

At A Traffic Light

Intersection, General Traffic Signal
  • Cross at the start of the green light.
  • If the light has been green for a while, be prepared to stop when it turns yellow.
  • Do not start to cross if the light turns yellow. If you already started to cross, you can complete your crossing.
  • Watch for turning traffic.
  • Do not cross on a red light. This signal means that you are now expected to give way to others.

Disclaimer: “Bicycle As Transport” videos and articles are for demonstration purposes to provide general information on lawfully using a bicycle. They are not CAN-BIKE instructions, are not comprehensive, nor provides specific advice or any guarantees. You must determine for yourself what your experience, training and competency level is with using a bicycle. The Bikeport by Kevin Montgomery disclaims any liability in connection with the use of this information.

To arrange a CAN-BIKE course, please visit:
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