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.