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Sign tells drivers: 'Cyclists can take the lane, stop honking'

“Polite signage wasn’t working” says Councillor on rather more pointed messages to drivers

Signs telling drivers “Cyclists Can Take the Lane – Stop Honking” have been installed on an Ottawa road after cyclists reported being harassed by impatient drivers.

The green and yellow signs, installed on a bridge that was narrowed to a single lane for road works, are intended to remind motorists cyclists are vehicles too, and that vehicles should go single file across the bridge.

Video: Chris Boardman demonstrating safe overtaking of cyclists

Earlier signage asking drivers to "share the road", which runs over the Rideau River through the Ontario city, didn't work, according to Councillor David Chernushenko, with drivers honking and harassing cyclists until they move over, placing them in danger.

Cllr Chernushenko told the Metro News he instructed his staff to rethink the original “Share the Road” signage after the overtaking problem persisted.

“Obviously the polite signage wasn’t working,” he said. “No one likes to be told to relax, but that’s essentially the message. We’re all stuck here crossing this bridge, so let’s be safe about it.”

“During construction projects [frustration] becomes particularly acute,” he said. “People are frustrated because they’ve already been delayed.”

He told the Metro News some drivers haven’t taken the new signs well, but believes that’s to be expected “when you do the right thing”.

Heather Shearer, of Citizens for Safe Cycling, said: “It makes a good point. The other ‘share the road’ signs can be misunderstood as ‘cyclists, get out of the way'.”

Chernushenko said the signs will be taken down once works are complete, but they could be used elsewhere in the city.

He said: “My goal is to see them strategically placed, definitely at all construction projects and at known existing problematic areas.”

The installation of the signs has coincided with the ramping up of enforcement of dangerous overtaking. During one two-hour period 29 drivers were ticketed for illegally passing a cyclist on a single file road, Constable Chuck Benoit told the Metro News. He said further ticketing blitzes will be carried out across the summer while construction work continues.

Local police have made a succinct video backing up the sign's message.

The UK has a similar, though less pointed, sign: the Narrow Lanes, don’t overtake cyclists sign (pictured). 

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