Prioritizing Cycling Safety

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      Bicycle Accidents

      Prioritizing Cycling Safety

      Prioritizing Cycling Safety

      Cycling accidents are a serious source of concern in Ontario and beyond. Knowing how to protect yourself while cycling is essential to staying safe.

      Below you’ll find out about cycling laws so you can make sure you’re safe during your next ride.

      Keep Your Bike in Good Condition

      The first step to safe cycling is keeping your bike in good condition.

      Make sure you have both front and rear lights if you ride at any time when visibility is low. Whenever you ride in the dark, it’s essential that your lights are functioning. You are required by law to have at least one white headlight and a red rear light and red reflector. Reflectors on spokes and pedals can also be helpful, as can reflective strips on clothing, packs and ankle straps.

      When approaching another cyclist coming toward you, turn your flashing lights to steady and angle them downward to avoid blinding the other person. Also wear a cycling helmet that properly fits and adheres to industry safety guidelines.

      Before you leave for a ride, always check your brakes and tire pressure and fix any problems right away. Finally, take your bike in for regular maintenance.

      Don’t Ride Where You Shouldn’t

      Quiet streets in neighborhoods and bike lanes or pathways are obviously safer places to ride than on busy city streets. Before you hop on your bike, plan your route to make it as safe as possible.

      As you ride, if there is traffic make sure you ride in a straight line rather than moving back and forth between parked cars. Also stay on the right side of the road as much as possible.

      You’ll want to stay half a meter to one meter from any sewer grates or roadside debris. You should also keep a distance of one and a half to two meters from parked cars to avoid having a door opened on you.

      If you must, ride in the center of the lane to make sure cars cannot pass you too closely. Cars that cannot safely pass you shouldn’t do so, and you should not cycle directly next to the curb to prevent his. This is the auto driver’s responsibility, not yours.

      Always avoid right turn lanes if you are going straight at an intersection and make sure you always turn left from the correct lane.

      Pathway Safety

      Pathways are safe places to ride your bike since there are no cars, but you should still be cautious because pedestrians also use them. You should always travel at 20 km/h or lower on a pathway, and cross roadways with caution.

      Just because you are on a bicycle, it doesn’t mean you have the right of way over vehicles, so you will need to wait or walk your bike across the intersection. Once you dismount your bike, you are considered a pedestrian and do have the right of way.

      Pathway Riding Rules

      The rules for riding on pathways are essentially the same as they are on the road. Travel at a speed that is safe, avoid passing unless it’s safe, and never pass in tunnels or underpasses.

      If you are approaching another cyclist, warn them by ringing your bell or telling them which side you are on without alarming them. Also yield to the right at any intersection in the pathway and use a white front and red rear light if it’s dark to ensure visibility.

      Finally, obey all posted signs and speed limits and remember to exhibit caution, especially at intersections.


      Although they may seem safe, sidewalks are actually dangerous places to cycle and you should avoid them. Driveways, building entrances, and parked cars can all cause safety issues because drivers and pedestrians are unlikely to see you, especially if you’re moving quickly. Car-bike collisions are also very common at intersections where the cyclist is exiting the sidewalk. In many places, it is actually illegal to ride a bicycle on the sidewalk.

      Differentiating Between Pathways and Sidewalks

      Sometimes it’s difficult to differentiate between a sidewalk and a pathway. Pathways feature light blue signs with a pedestrian above a bicycle and feature yellow lines in the middle. Walkways on bridges or overpasses that are connected to a pathway are also considered pathways. Pathways are often found in parks or do not run adjacent to roads, while sidewalks are adjacent to roads and buildings.

      Navigating Intersections

      Most collisions occur at intersections. The most common collisions happen when cyclists are hit by cars turning right, or by cars crossing the cyclist’s path to make a left turn.

      To minimize your risk for a collision, stay in the center of the through lane to prevent right-turning cars from passing you or turning in front of you. This will also make you more visible to left-turning motorists. Avoid crosswalks as much as you can, and move through intersections just as you would if you were driving a car.

      If you’re crossing a pathway on the left side of the road, be careful. Even if the light is green, motorists waiting to turn right at a red light will be looking in the opposite direction to assess traffic.

      Even if you are being as safe as possible while cycling, accidents still occur. If you’ve been injured in a bicycling accident, always contact a Bicycle Accident lawyer to learn more about your legal rights. Consultations are usually free and the lawyer can advise you about the strength of your case.

      If you’ve been injured in a cycling accident, find out more about your legal rights by downloading our free personal injury recovery kit, or contact us for a free consultation.

      Disclaimer: The content of this article is a general guideline made available for educational purposes only and is not intended to be used as legal advice for the reader's specific situation nor in general. By reading our blog and website content, the reader acknowledges the above and understands there is no lawyer-client relationship created between you and Himelfarb Proszanski through this content. To get specific legal advice, we encourage you to book a free consultation with one of our lawyers to clarify the legal aspects of your situation.