What’s the proper way to make a left turn on your bike?

All through the month of July we answer some common questions about biking in Toronto

By Karen Kwan Wheels.ca

Jul 17, 2022 2 min. read

Article was updated a year ago

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You’re biking in downtown Toronto – one metre from the curb and parked vehicles – and feeling pretty confident with your new city cycling skills. Then you reach an intersection where the traffic lights are about to turn red, and you need to make a left turn. As you approach the intersection you realize you have no idea where you should turn.

Which lane should you be in? Should you be hugging the left or right side of the lane? And can you ride in between the cars up to the stop line so you are all set to go once the light turns green? Many cyclists in the city have found themselves asking the same questions.

First off, you should “take the lane,” meaning you should be in the middle of your lane as though you’re a car, said certified Can-Bike instructor Joey Schwartz. As for which lane to make your turn from, get into the right-most lane that takes you where you’re going, he said. If there is a left-turning lane, take it. If two lanes can turn left, then be in the right-most one. The idea is that after you complete you turn, you can easily position yourself again one metre from the curb or parked vehicles.

That said, it’s normal to feel vulnerable at a busy intersection. If you feel timid, you can make your turn in two stages. First, cross the intersection when the light is green and then wait at the opposite corner in the direction you want to go in. It’s legal to be adjacent to pedestrians at a crosswalk, said Keagan Gartz, executive director of Cycle Toronto. Plus, not only is it fine to make the crossing in two stages, you also can stay on your bike and ride across. There is no need to dismount and walk, Gartz said. “Just don’t get mixed in, weaving in and out, around the pedestrians,” she said.




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