Whether riding to work or school, biking is a fun and refreshing activity for people of all ages to spend time outdoors, increase flexibility and strength as well as being helpful for the environment. Though, make sure you ride defensively and brush up on these top bicycle safety facts.
Fact 1: The Ministry of Transportation Ontario reported 63 per cent of cyclists who died between 2010 and 2014 from a cycling collision, were not wearing a helmet.
An approved bicycle helmet can significantly limit the chance of a serious injury or death in the event of a collision. It’s important to make sure the helmet fits properly as well and will not slip when you move your head. Side straps of the helmet should arrange into a V-shape under your ear lobe and the chin strap should be secure and tight enough to allow one finger to fit between your chin and the strap. In Ontario, anyone under the age of 18 must wear an approved bicycle helmet. For adults, wearing a helmet is not compulsory but is considered a best practice for any biker rider and offers one of the best forms of protection in a bike collision.
Fact 2: According to Ontario’s Highway Traffic Act (HTA), a bicycle is considered to be a vehicle.
This means you must obey the rules of the road, just like you would when driving a car. As a cyclist, it’s important to know the rules of the road as it’s for your own safety. Understanding the rules is especially important at an intersection where approximately 60 per cent of motorist-cyclist collisions occur, according to Bike Sense. To minimize the risk of a collision, watch carefully for vehicles that are turning and enter intersections ahead or behind a vehicle in your designated lane.
It’s important to know the proper hand signs to signal other motorists of your intentions. If you need to review the signs again you can look at your provincial driver’s handbook. When signaling, make sure to hold your hand signals long enough for drivers to see and react. Before turning, look over your shoulder and place your hands back on the handlebars to complete the turn.
Fact 3: The Ministry of Transportation Ontario requires all bikes to be equipped with a bell or horn, a white front light, a red rear light, white reflective tape and red reflective tape.
All of this equipment is for visibility purposes. This required safety equipment will help keep you safe when riding on the roads. There are additional equipment precautions you can take such as wearing fluorescent colours during the day and reflective clothing at night as well as adding safety flags and a rear view mirror to your bike.
Fact 4: Cyclists should not ride on sidewalks. The Globe and Mail has stated in Toronto, a fine for riding on a sidewalk if older than 14 is $60.
Instead of riding on the sidewalk, cyclists should be walking their bikes on the sidewalk if they need too. A bicycle is considered a vehicle and you generally wouldn’t see a car driving on the sidewalk. Children under 14 can be allowed to ride on the sidewalk as they are still learning how to ride. Research your local by-laws to find out more about biking on the sidewalk.
Happy bike riding!