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Bicycle Safety

Ways Cyclists Can Improve Safety

Bicycles are considered vehicles under the Ontario Highway Traffic Act and have the same rights and responsibilities on public roadways as motorists. Cyclists fare best when they act and are treated as drivers of vehicles. When you as a cyclist fail to obey the rules of the road, you lose the support of motorists. Do your part by being a good ambassador for cycling.

  • When riding in groups, leave gaps to allow space for motorists or other cyclists to pass
  • Acknowledge motorists with a wave when they have passed you safely
  • Yield to pedestrians 
  • Warn others with a ring of your bell or friendly greeting before passing
  • Ride in a straight line – don’t weave around obstacles
  • Stay about one metre from the edge/curb or parked cars to avoid hazards
  • Use hand signals to communicate turns and stops to other road users
  • Wear brightly coloured clothing, including reflectors
  • Use lights in low light conditions (red rear, white front)
  • Stay out of motorists’ blind spots – especially truck drivers
  • Make eye contact with motorists – it is the best way to know they see you
  • Obey all traffic law, signs and signals
  • Always ride in the same direction as traffic, far enough from the road edge to keep a straight line
  • Ride single file when being passed
  • You may occupy any part of a lane when your safety warrants it, e.g. to avoid obstacles, or if the lane is not wide enough to safely pass
  • Anticipate the next move of drivers, pedestrians and cyclists 
  • Watch for debris, potholes and grates
  • Your bike is a machine and works best and safest when it is well-maintained 
  • Tires need air, brakes must work, chains should run smoothly and quick release wheel levers must be closed
  • Carry identification, a cell phone, emergency cash and repair and emergency supplies
  • If you are a beginner or returning to bicycling, seek out clubs or bicycling advocacy organizations for tips on safe riding instruction and group rides to improve knowledge and skill
  • Wear a helmet and make sure it fits correctly

Ways Motorists Can Improve Cyclist Safety 

Cyclists are more vulnerable road users than motorists. They are smaller, quieter and have no “crumple zone”. A small mistake by a motorist can result in serious injury or death to a cyclist. Motorists must respect the rights of other road users, including cyclists.

Pass with Care

  • Respect cyclists as legal road users with the same rules and responsibilities as motorists and drive courteously and with tolerance 
  • Treat cyclists as you would any slow moving vehicle and pass only when the road ahead is clear
  • Slow down when passing, especially if the road is narrow
  • Give at least one metre of space between you and a cyclist when passing
  • Check over your shoulder before moving back into your travel lane to make sure you have left enough space

 Yield to Cyclists

  • When turning left, yield to oncoming cyclists 
  • Experienced cyclists can travel 30 to 40 kilometers per hour and can be moving faster than you think
  • Assume cyclists are travelling straight through unless they signal otherwise and do not make a right hand turn in front of cyclists

 Watch for Cyclists

  • Cyclists may ride one metre from the road edge but can occupy any part of a lane if safety warrants, e.g. to avoid obstacles, to turn left, or if the lane is not wide enough for a motorist to safely pass
  • Always check your blind spot and check for cyclists before opening your vehicle door
  • Children on bicycles are often unpredictable, expect the unexpected and drive with caution

Communicate with Cyclists

  • Some cyclists appreciate communication from approaching vehicles 
  • A quick beep of your horn will alert cyclists that you are approaching them from behind 
  • Do not honk your horn for an extended period, it can startle cyclists and cause them to swerve into traffic



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