Cycling Safety Awareness Program

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The program was created based on a recommendation of the Council-approved Cycling Safety Improvement Program, and includes initial key messages on “Dooring” (car door opening), sharrows, sidewalk cycling and the bike box. The CSAP will complement cycling infrastructure improvements being implemented through the City’s Cycling Facilities Program, Ottawa on the Move program, and Cycling Safety Improvement Program.


The City of Ottawa is introducing sharrows on several of our busiest streets. The purpose of a sharrow –road markings showing a bicycle with two chevrons – is to remind residents to share the road when driving or cycling in Ottawa. Sharrow locations will include Lyon Street, Arlington Avenue, St. Patrick Street and Wellington Street. 

New sharrow installed on Lyon Street.

Benefits of sharrows

For cyclists, sharrows:

  • Encourage drivers to leave space for cyclists where lanes are wide enough to share but where there is not enough space for a full reserved bike lane
  • Make cycling features (such as approaches to bike pockets) more visible to drivers
  • Assist with positioning in a shared lane with on-street parallel parking in order to reduce the chance of a driver opening their door and hitting a cyclist
  • Advise cyclists when to "take the lane" where travel lanes are too narrow for riding side by side within the same lane
  • Reduce the incidences of wrong-way cycling.

For drivers, sharrows:

  • Alert road users of the space cyclists are likely to occupy in the lane
  • Encourage safe passing of cyclists by motorists
  • Remind them to share the road with supplemental road signs.

Sharrows do not in any way require a cyclist to take a particular route or obligate where cyclists should position themselves in a lane. Cyclists have the right to ride in any lane and motorists should treat cyclists as they would any other vehicle.

Educational/Promotional Material

Map of new cyclying facilities on Lyon Street.
Ottawa's first implementation of sharrows


There is a danger zone for cyclists next to parked cars. A car door springs open in a fraction of a second, and if a cyclist is passing by at that moment close to the car they can be knocked off balance or onto the ground, resulting in serious injury and possibly death. This kind of collision is known as “dooring.”

What cyclists should know

Stay out of the “dooring” danger zone, about one metre from parked cars. That way, even if a motorist opens a door without warning, you're far enough away to avoid it. Follow sharrows where they have been provided, which assist with cyclists’ positioning in a shared lane. Take extra space in the lane if you need to do so. Remember that you have the right to “take the lane” if necessary.

Don’t weave in out between parked cars, since this will make it more difficult for motorists to anticipate your movements. Ride in a straight line a safe distance away from parked cars.

What motorists should know

Take care when opening your car door. Look first and open your car door slowly. You are required by Section 165 of the Ontario Highway Traffic Act to check for traffic – including cyclists – before opening your car door. A quick turn of your head is all it takes.

Park close to the curb in order to minimize how far your car door opens into the adjacent lane.

Share the road with cyclists who must “take the lane” for safety reasons. 

Educational/Promotional Material

Bike box

A bike box is a green area marked within the motor-vehicle lane, containing a white bicycle symbol. A section of green bicycle lane often precedes the box. 

Bike boxes are used at intersections to designate a space for cyclists to wait at a red light. Cyclists stop in front of motorists and can proceed through the intersection first when the light turns green. Bike boxes increase cyclist visibility and reduce the risk of “right hook” collisions.

At many intersections where bike boxes have been implemented, right turns during the red signal phase are prohibited.  This is indicated with a “no right turn on red” sign.  If the intersection does not contain a “no right turn on red” sign, motorists are permitted to turn right on red when safe to do so.

Illustration of two cyclists stopped in a bike box.

What cyclists should know:

When a traffic signal is yellow or red, enter the bike box from the approaching green bike lane. Stop before the crosswalk. When the light is green, proceed as normal. Be aware of right-turning motorists, especially while in the intersection.

What motorists should know

When the traffic signal is yellow or red, motorists must stop behind the green bike box at the white stop line.

When the light turns green, motorists and cyclists may move through the intersection as usual, with cyclists going first. Motorists turning right on green should signal and watch for cyclists to the right.

If right turns on red are permitted

If right turns on red are not prohibited, motorists must make an initial stop at the white stop line behind the green bike box. If no cyclists are present, motorists may then carefully ease forward through the bike box to make their right turn.

In this case, motorists would treat the bike box like a crosswalk that requires motorists to yield if pedestrians are present, but allows motorists to ease forward to make a safe turn with full visibility if pedestrians (or cyclists, in the case of the bike box) are not present.

Educational/Promotional Material