Bicycle Season and Risk of Personal Injury

Bicycle Safety and Personal Injury

As we enter summer people are inclined to get their bicycles out to get around and enjoy the weather at the same time. If you are anywhere in the downtown core you are likely to see cyclists on the road and in the bike lanes going to, and from, work. To avoid personal injury please keep the following bicycle tips in mind before you start riding:

  1. First, be mindful that as a cyclist you must obey the rules of the road. Under the Highway Traffic Act a bicycle is a vehicle just like a car, truck or bus. Cyclists must obey all traffic laws and have the same rights and responsibilities are car drivers. 
  2. You must stay as close to the right edge of the road as possible, especially when being passed by a car. In other words you cannot hog the road leaving rows of cars waiting behind you.
  3. You can ride on most roads EXCEPT:
    • controlled access highways, such as Highway 417.
    • across a road with a pedestrian crossover – you must walk your bike to the other side.
    • across a road within a crosswalk at any intersection or other location with traffic signals – you must walk your bike to the other side.
  4. Cyclists under the age of 18 must wear a helmet. If you are over 18, then a helmet is not necessary. However, to avoid serious personal injury such as a brain damage, or even a fatality, wearing a helmet is strongly advised. Although it’s not mandatory for adults in Ontario or Quebec, if it can save your life, then why go without? 
  5. Do not wear headphones while riding. It is important that you hear everything around you such as other motorists and pedestrians. Do your best to avoid personal injury and avoid compromising your hearing with music, podcasts or other audio distractions.
  6. One of the easiest ways to avoid personal injury – keep both hands on the handlebars, except when signalling! This seems like an obvious one, but if you need to carry books or groceries, it’s not uncommon to see people cycling with these items in-hand, or hanging from the handle bars. Be smart and put them in a bike carrier or backpack.
  7. Wear a brightly coloured helmet and reflective material when riding, especially at night. It is very difficult for people in cars and trucks to see you if you are wearing dark gear at night. This is an accident waiting to happen. 
  8. Keep your head up and look ahead. It is unsafe to look down as you are going down a road or crossing an intersection.
  9. Ride in a single file between other bikes if you’re riding with a group of cyclists.
  10. Be mindful of the road and weather conditions before deciding to ride you bicycle. Personal injury or injury to others is mitigated if you avoid riding in the rain or snow. If a particular road is uneven or rough, then it is best to avoid it.
  11. When passing a pedestrian or another bike, warn them of your presence by ringing a bicycle bell or shout out to alert them that you are approaching. Personal injury and injury to others can occur when people walking don’t have advance notice that you’re cycling by.
  12. When riding near parked cars, be aware of doors that could suddenly open. The best bike safety practice is to ride far enough away from parked cars (about 4 feet) to avoid being hit by a door. “Dooring” is a common incident we see at our office and plenty of lawsuits arise from them.