If life is a highway, the highway is full of life, from bikes and scooters to horses
Have you ever stood on the curb and felt the whirl of grit as a truck whooshes by? It’s unsettling and makes you step back. But if you’re attending to an accident, pedaling to work or riding a horse, you don’t have the luxury of stepping back. Sharing the road with other users is necessary so everyone gets from point A to point B safely—no matter which mode of transportation you choose.
When passing police, paramedics, fire fighters or tow operators, “Slow Down, Move Over.” It’s the law in Manitoba. If emergency lights are flashing, their focus is not on passing cars. If a posted speed limit is less than 80 km/h, slow down to 40 km/h. For limits of 80 km/h or higher, slow to 60 km/h. And move over to the far lane when it’s safe to do so.
Cyclists are also entitled to their share of the road. If you’re a motorist, cut the cyclist some slack and move over at least a metre, so side mirrors and trailers don’t nick them. Wait for a gap in oncoming traffic, if need be. Backdraft from trucks and trailers is dangerous for cyclists, and can easily cause them to wobble into the path of the next vehicle or into the ditch.
As a cyclist, it’s up to you to protect yourself. Manitoba law requires a white light reflector mounted on the front of your bike and red on the back. Wear a helmet and bright, reflective clothing. Ride single file and listen for approaching vehicles. If you’re nervous, consider a cycling radar that warns of vehicles coming up behind you.
With e-bikes, fat bikes and scooters, more people are riding year-round so be on the lookout—especially at dawn and dusk. Always shoulder check before moving into the curb lane and check your mirror before opening your door. Practise the Dutch reach to avoid dooring someone on a smaller set of wheels.
Horses and horse-drawn carriages must travel on the road in the farthest right lane in the direction of traffic, but not on the shoulder. Automobiles and motorcycles should slow down and prepare to stop, passing slowly when there is ample space. Gently accelerate when you are safely past the animal. Cyclists: Ding your bell well in advance of passing.
Tragically, 13% of all farm-related fatalities across Canada involve tractors on highways. The first rule when passing a wide, long or slow load is to follow the rules. If it’s a no-passing zone, do not pass. Rear-end collisions happen when motorists miscalculate the speed at which they’re approaching machinery. Slow down and wait for a suitable opening.