by Kathryn Hunt
On July 11, the new bike lanes on Wellington at Bay were officially opened. Included in the design is the province’s first official “bike box.” (While there are already similar boxes on Laurier, allowing cyclists a space within the crosswalk to line up for left turns, they function somewhat differently and do not impact drivers as much.)
Intended to make it easier and safer for cyclists to turn left onto Wellington, the green-painted area in front of the stop line provides a space where cyclists can line up ahead of traffic and proceed into the intersection first, eliminating the risk of being struck by right-turning vehicles.
Bike boxes have been in use in other cities for many years: for example, Portland, OR, has used them since 2008.
However, they are new to Ontario drivers and cyclists. On the Facebook page of Citizens for Safe Cycling, cyclists are urged to be patient, as many drivers will never have encountered a bike box before and may not know what is expected.
To properly use a bike box, cyclists should enter the box from the bike lane when the light is red, and stop before the crosswalk, lining up to the left if turning left and right if turning right. When the light turns green, they should proceed as normal, watching for right-turning vehicles. Motorists should stop behind the box—not on top of it—leaving room for cyclists. At the green light, motorists and cyclists should proceed through the intersection, with the cyclists going first. Motorists turning right on green should, as usual, signal and look for cyclists coming up on the right.