Riding Safely

Under the Ontario Ministry of Transportation’s Highway Traffic Act (HTA) a bicycle is classified as a vehicle.  Cyclists have the same rights and responsibilities to obey all traffic laws as other road users.

Follow the rules of the road

Visit Ontario’s Guide to Safe Cycling to learn more about cycling and the rules of the road as they apply to cyclists and motorists. When you’re cycling you must follow the rules of the road and behave in a predictable way.

Bike on the right

  • Ride with the flow of traffic on the right hand side of the road.
  • Don’t weave in and out of traffic.
  • Stay close to the curb and watch for uneven pavement and debris.
  • Give yourself plenty of room. Remember that you have the right to take a lane if necessary.

When cycling with others, ride in single-file along the side of the road, leaving space between each bike.

Communicate and be predictable

  • Use hand signals to show that you’re going to stop or make a turn.
  • Try to make eye contact with motor vehicle drivers.
  • Always check over your shoulder before turning or changing lanes.

Watch for parked and turning vehicles

  • Drivers can open their car doors without warning and knock you off your bike. So be careful while cycling past parked cars.
  • Don’t pass on the right side of a motorized vehicle that’s signaling to turn right. The driver has the right of way and might not see you.

Plan your route
Avoid roads with lots of traffic. Whenever possible use trails, paths and bike lanes instead.

Avoid injury
Be visible, use your gears properly and cycle at a safe speed.

Be visible
Wear bright or reflective clothing so others can see you easily at night or in bad weather. Make sure you have all the necessary equipment, including lights and a helmet.

Using your gears

Think of the gears on your bicycle like the gears on a car.  If you are going too fast and the engine starts to whine, it’s time to change to a higher gear.  If you’re going uphill and the car starts to stutter, you know you should change to a lower gear because the engine is working too hard.

The key is to maintain a constant degree of leg effort during changing conditions.  In this way, you’ll work to maintain cadence (leg speed measured in revolutions per minute) even when you’re tired and despite wind or hills.

Get comfortable with changing gears frequently. Smaller numbers means lower, easier gears and the chain is closer to the bicycle frame. Larger numbers mean higher, harder gears and the chain is farther away from the bicycle frame.

  • Low Gears: uphill, wind against you, when you’re very tired
  • Medium Gears: cruising on flat ground
  • High Gears: downhill, wind behind you, you’re feeling strong and want to go fast

Make sure you use the right gear for the grade of the road. Your legs should revolve 70-100 times per minute when peddling.

Speed

  • Ride at a reasonable speed that gives you total control over steering your bicycle.
  • Always be prepared to stop and make quick manoeuvres.
  • When biking in the rain or snow, give yourself extra room and apply your brakes earlier than you would when the road is dry.

Reporting a collision

Call 911 if you’re involved in or witness a serious collision and need immediate emergency help.

If you have witnessed or been involved in a collision but no one is injured, call:

  • Peel Regional Police non-emergency number: 905-453-3311

Sources:
Ontario Highway Traffic Act
Ontario’s Guide to Safe Cycling
CAN-BIKE 2 Student Handbook and Program Instructor Kit