Tips & Tricks: Bike Safety Basics

Cycling is a great way to get around—it gets you from point A to point B all while keeping you fit and helping the environment. Some studies have even shown that it is the safest mode of transportation, particularly for young adults. Even so, around 7,500 cyclists suffer severe injuries every year in Canada, while 70, 000 are treated in emergency rooms for injuries related to cycling, according to the CBC.

Over half of the Toronto population cycles, that’s 54% of Torontonians. Luckily, the Toronto Cycling Network Plan is working on making Toronto a more bike-friendly city. Hopefully, Canadian cities will one day be as welcoming to cyclists as European cities, where cyclist injury and death rates are substantially lower. As this eco-friendly method of transportation becomes more popular, cyclists and drivers will become more aware of their places on the roads and fewer accidents will occur.

Until then, there are many things cyclists can be aware of to ensure their safety on the roads. Here are some bike safety tips and tricks based on facts from the CBC and Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation:

Where you can and cannot ride

  • Cyclists must stay as close to the right side of the road as possible, especially if you’re slower than other traffic.
  • Cyclists cannot ride on controlled-access highways, such as Ontario’s 400-series highways
  • Cyclists are only allowed to walk their bikes through pedestrian crossovers.

Where and when it’s best to ride

If cyclists aren’t planning to ride to and from work, they should avoid riding during the afternoon rush hour—17% of cyclist deaths and 23% of cyclist injuries occur during this time.

The worst time for a cyclist to ride is at night—30% of cyclist deaths occur at this time. Avoiding busy cities and intersections is ideal for a cyclist’s safety—despite traffic control signs, cyclists are more likely to be injured in an area with these features. Cyclists should also avoid rural areas where the speed limits are 80km/h or more—44% of cyclist deaths happen on these roads.

Wearing a helmet

It is illegal for any cyclist under the age of 18 to ride without a helmet.

For any cyclist under the age of 16, a parent or guardian must ensure that they are not riding without a helmet. Adults are not required to wear a helmet, although it is strongly recommended, as it lowers a cyclist’s chance of injury by 90%.

Additional cycling laws 

The following are changes made regarding cycling law after the passing of Bill 31- Transportation Statute Law Amendment Act , effective September 1, 2015: 

  • All drivers of motor vehicles are required to maintain a minimum distance of one metre, where practical, when passing cyclists on highways;
  • Persons who improperly open or leave opened the doors of motor vehicles on highways face increased penalties (commonly known as “dooring”).
  • The fine for non-compliance with bicycle light, reflector and reflective requirements will increase; and
  • Cyclists are permitted to use lamps that produce intermittent flashes of red light.

 

For more information on Ontario bike laws, visit the Ontario Ministry of Transportation website. If you know of a cyclist who has been in an accident, have them contact us at our Ajax (905-427-2000) or Barrie offices (705-726-2146) for their free consultation.

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Spring in to Cycling Season

One of the more popular past times when the weather starts to get nicer is cycling. Now that Spring has finally sprung, you can expect to see an increase in the number of people spending time outdoors. Cycling is a great way to stay healthy, remain active and can be enjoyed by the whole family.

Among all the benefits cycling has to offer, there are also a number of risks. Here are our tips on how to stay safe as you kick off this cycle season.

Check your bike

Its been a while since your bike has seen the outdoors. Make sure you give it a once over before you take it out for the first ride of the season. Check for things such as tire pressure and whether the tire spokes are secure and undamaged. Do your brakes work? What about the chain, has it rusted? Determine what, if any, issues you have and what your next step is. Can you fix it yourself, or do you need to call a repair shop? If you’re unsure, bring it in to a bike shop just in case.

Safety equipment

Hitting the road again after a long winter can be a bit nerve wracking. Taking things slow and following the proper steps to being safe on the road can help prevent injury later. We can argue that a helmet is the most important piece of equipment for a cyclist. It can help prevent against concussions and even brain injury. Other preventative safety measures can include adding reflectors and lights to your bike and wearing bright clothes. Keeping yourself visible is the key.

Hit the Road

At last, the time has finally come. Your bike has been through its version of spring cleaning and you’re ready to go. Make sure you check both ways before you cross the street, brush up on your hand signals, and be careful around areas that can become slippery and dangerous when wet (e.g., wood, painted brick).

 

Even if you and your children are practicing safe cycling, sometimes you can still be injured by others. If you or someone you love has been injured by another party’s negligence while cycling we can help with their recovery journey.

Fast dial #1000 free from your cell and we’ll get you the support you need.

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What every parent ought to know about bike safety

Your guide to make your child’s ride to school a safe one.

Cycling to school can be a great opportunity for you and your children. Not only does it begin creating healthy fitness habits for your child, but it also creates a bonding activity for the both of you.

However, cycling poses some serious dangers to your child. Before you hit the road, or trail, with your kids make sure you read over these tips from Liv:

1. Pick an appropriate route

Before venturing out with your children on a bike-ride to school consider the route you are going to take. Ride it first on your own and notice any key aspects of the route. Are there bike paths available? What is the traffic like when you will be biking? How long or steep is the ride? If the route has lots of traffic, is too difficult for you child’s fitness level, or poses dangers for their experience level you should find a safe and appropriate route for them, or reconsider.

2. Prepare your child’s bike

Kids grow quickly, and that means they can grow out of their bicycles quickly. Make sure that your    child’s bike still fits, and that it works properly. Teach your children to check the air pressure, breaks and chain before hopping on their bike each time to prevent an accident or injury. Also, your child’s bike should have a horn or bell, as well as proper lights in case of inclement weather or riding at night.

3. Get and adjust a certified helmet

According to Ontario law anyone under the age of 18 must wear a helmet while cycling. But it takes more than just wearing one to protect your child. The helmet needs to fit properly. While purchasing a helmet make sure it is the correct size, as well as certified, and before your child wears the helmet make sure you adjust it for proper fit. Never let your child wear a helmet that has already experienced impact.

4. Avoid dangerous clothing

Wearing certain types of clothing while biking can create a safety hazard for your children. Children should avoid wearing footwear that could get caught in parts of the bike—like running shoes with untied shoe laces or loose sandals. Also, loose pant legs or other loose pieces of clothing below the waist can become caught in parts of the bike and should be avoided.

5. Educate on bike safety

Before you and your child leave home on your bikes you should talk to your child about bike safety. Going through the basics of yielding to and communicating with pedestrians, biking on the right side in a straight predictable line, and taking caution at intersections or driveways is a must. Also, have your children practice good communication with drivers.  Making eye contact with drivers to make sure they are seen and using biking signals to communicate with drivers are skills they should learn as early as possible.

Even if you and your children are practicing safe cycling, sometimes you can still be injured by others. If you or someone you love has been injured by another party’s negligence while cycling we can help with their recovery journey.

Fast dial #1000 free from your cell and we’ll get you the support you need.

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How to Avoid Bicycle Accidents this summer

Cycling is a fantastic way to get from point A to point B, just ask the hoards of individuals who swear by their two-wheeled morning commute. However, cyclists are at risk for injury each time they hit the streets.

Fortunately, if you are a cyclist, there are a variety of ways in which you can practice accident prevention and stay safe. Here are some of the leading causes of bike accidents and how to avoid them:

“The Right Cross

This is the most common way to get hit. A car is pulling out of a side street, parking lot, or driveway on the right.  Notice that there are actually two possible kinds of collisions here:  Either you’re in front of the car and the car hits you, or the car pulls out in front of you and you slam into it.

How to avoid this collision:

  1. Get a headlight. If you’re riding at night, you absolutely should be using a front headlight.  It’s required by law, anyway.  Even for daytime riding, a bright white light that has a flashing mode can make you more visible to motorists who might otherwise Right Cross you.  Look for the new LED headlights, which last ten times as long on a set of batteries as old-style lights.  And headlamps (mounted on your head or helmet) are the best, because then you can look directly at the driver to makesure they see your light.
  2. Wave. If you can’t make eye contact with the driver, wave your arm.  It’s easier for them to see your arm going left and right than it is for them to see a bicycle coming straight towards them.  You could also use a loud horn to get drivers’ attention.
  3. Slow down. If you can’t make eye contact with the driver (especially at night), slow down so much that you’re able to completely stop if you have to.  Sure, it’s inconvenient, but it beats getting hit.
  4. Ride further left.  When that driver is looking down the road for traffic, he’s not looking in the bike lane or the area closest to the curb; he’s looking in themiddleof the lane, for other cars.  The farther left you are, the more likely the driver will see you.  There’s an added bonus here: if the motorist doesn’t see you and starts pulling out, you may be able to go even farther left, or may be able to speed up and get out of the way before impact, or easily roll onto their hood as they slam on their brakes.

The Door Prize

A driver opens his door right in front of you.  You run right into it if you can’t stop in time.  This kind of crash is more common than you might think: It’s the second-most common car-bike crash in Toronto.

How to avoid this collision:

Ride to the left. Ride far enough to the left that you won’t run into any door that’s opened unexpectedly. You may be wary about riding so far into the lane that cars can’t pass you easily, but you’re more likely to get doored by a parked car if you ride too close to it than you are to get hit from behind by a car which can see you clearly.

The Right Hook

A car passes you and then tries to make a right turn directly in front of you, or right into you. They think you’re not going very fast just because you’re on a bicycle, so it never occurs to them that they can’t pass you in time. Even if you have to slam on your brakes to avoid hitting them, they often won’t feel they’ve done anything wrong. This kind of collision is very hard to avoid because you typically don’t see it until the last second, and because there’s nowhere for you to go when it happens.

How to avoid this collision:

  1. Don’t ride on the sidewalk.When you come off the sidewalk to cross the street you’re invisible to motorists. You’re just begging to be hit if you do this.
  2. Ride to the left.Taking up the whole lane makes it harder for drivers to pass you to cut you off or turn into you. Don’t feel bad about taking the lane: if motorists didn’t threaten your life by turning in front of or into you or passing you too closely, then you wouldn’t have to. If the lane you’re in isn’t wide enough for cars to pass you safely, then you should be taking the whole laneanyway.
  3. Glance in your mirror before approaching an intersection.(If you don’t have a handlebar or helmet mirror, get one now.) Be sure to look in your mirrorwell before you get to the intersection. When you’re actually going through an intersection, you’ll need to be paying very close attention to what’s in front of you.

The Rear End

You innocently move a little to the left to go around a parked car or some other obstruction in the road, and you get nailed by a car coming up from behind.

How to avoid this collision:

  1. Never, ever move left without looking behind you first.Some motorists like to pass cyclists within mere inches, so moving even a tiny bit to the left unexpectedly could put you in the path of a car. Practice holding a straight line while looking over your shoulder until you can do it perfectly. Most new cyclists tend to move left when they look behind them, which of course can be disastrous.
  2. Don’t swerve in and out of the parking lane if it contains any parked cars.You might be tempted to ride in the parking lane where there are no parked cars, dipping back into the traffic lane when you encounter a parked car. This puts you at risk for getting nailed from behind. Instead, ride a steady, straight line in the traffic lane.
  3. Use a mirror.If you don’t have one, get one from a bike shop. There are models that fit on your handlebars, helmet, or glasses, as you prefer. You should always physically look back over your shoulder before moving left, but having a mirror still helps you monitor traffic without constantly having to look behind you.
  4. Signal.Never move left without signaling. Just put your left arm straight out. Be sure to check your mirror or loo behind you before signaling (since a car passing too closely can take your arm out).”

By implementing these strategies into your cycling, you will dramatically decrease your risk of being involved in a collision.

If you have been injured, and need legal assistance, call #1000 on your cell phone for free. We will offer you a free claim assessment.

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Sharing the Road with Cyclists: What you need to Know

Despite common rhetoric, cyclists and drivers can get along just fine. Regardless of the fact that the road is a narrow place, drivers must be mindful that they are sharing it with their two-wheeled counterparts. When in a car, it can be easy to forget to keep your eyes peeled for bicycles. However, drivers of motorized vehicles must understand the vulnerable state that all cyclists ride in.

According to the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA), each year, hundreds of cyclists die in motor vehicle accidents. Additionally, 7,500 cyclists are seriously injured while commuting. As a driver, it is your responsibility to keep the road safe for yourself, and every person around you, as bicycles and cars are both entitled to space on the road.

The good news is, you can expand your knowledge on how to safely share the road with cyclists with these helpful tips:

Know Their Rules

In order to know how to co-exist peacefully with cyclists on the road, you need to be aware of their rules of the road. Many vehicle drivers believe that cyclists are required by law to ride within a metre of the curb, however, this information is false. While cyclists do tend to stick near the curb in order to minimize their risk of accident, they are not required to when they are keeping the speed of surrounding traffic. Furthermore, just like cars, cyclists also need to change lanes. If a cyclist needs to make a left turn, he or she is permitted to do so from a left-turn lane.

In order for you to minimize your risk of colliding with a bicycle, you must be aware of the freedom they have to ride wherever they so choose. While most bikers will stay on your right, be cautious and always check your mirrors and blind spots to ensure you are aware if one is ever coming up behind you from another side.

Know Your Rules

In order to avoid a fine or collision, it’s imperative that you’re aware of the unique rules that drivers must follow pertaining to cyclists. When passing a bicycle on the road, you are required to maintain a minimum distance of one metre between where your car is driving and where their bike is riding. While many drivers, notably city ones, ignore this rule, you should not follow suit. Failure to comply with this law can result in a fine within the range of $60 to $500, plus two demerits on your record, and a dramatically increased risk of accident.

While car drivers have signals to communicate with one another what their next move will be, cyclists do not. You may notice some relying on arm movements to indicate the intent to turn, however, no bicycles have break lights to warn vehicles when they are slowing down or stopping. It remains crucial to everyone’s safety that you avoid following too closely behind any bikers due to this.

Intersection Caution

Intersections are a hotbed for miscommunication and accidents. In fact, cyclists are more likely to be killed or injured when moving through an intersection. You can do your part to keep cyclists safe at intersections a variety of different ways. On a right turn, signalling and checking your mirrors and blind spot can decrease your chances of cutting a cyclist off. On a left turn, be sure to wait for any oncoming cyclists to get by you before making your move. Finally, when driving through an intersection, don’t forget to keep your eyes peeled not only for cars, but also cyclists who are turning left.

Everyone has somewhere to be, but unfortunately, motor vehicle accidents happen every day due to individuals rushing to arrive at their final destination. While cyclists have an enormous role to play in ensuring they ride safely, drivers must understand the susceptibility they experience to accidents.

If you have been injured, and need legal assistance, call #1000 on your cell phone for free. We will offer you a free claim assessment.

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