As the days grow warmer and people start riding bicycles more regularly, it is important to refresh our memories on the rules for cyclists travelling on the road. At a minimum, adhering to the rules will help increase the safety of all cyclists.
Accidents between cyclists and motor vehicles typically result in serious injuries, especially brain injuries, and are therefore more likely to result in law suits. In such cases, some fault may be attributed to the cyclist if he or she failed to follow the rules of the road, which can reduce the amount of damages to which he or she would otherwise have been entitled. The reason is that bicycles are “vehicles” under the Highway Traffic Act and therefore cyclists are required to follow the same road laws as drivers of motor vehicles. Additionally, the City of Toronto has enacted by-laws with respect to cycling in Toronto.
The following are some of the rules that cyclists should follow:
Cyclists aged 14 or older are not permitted to ride on the sidewalk;
- Slower traffic stays to the right – cyclists should ride one meter from the right hand edge of the road unless they are turning left, going faster than other vehicles or if the lane is too narrow to share;
- Stop at stop signs and red lights and obey all other traffic signals;
- Right-of-way determines who goes through an intersection first;
- Stop behind street car doors when they open;
- Stop behind stopped school buses
- Pass slower vehicles by riding to the left of it;
- When a vehicle ahead is stopped to turn right, either stop behind it or pass it on the left (do not pass on the right side of a right-turning vehicle);
- Ride in the designated direction on one-way streets;
- Always walk your bicycle when crossing in a pedestrian crosswalk; and
- Signal all turns.
In recent years, there have been changes in the law on passing cyclists and penalties for “dooring” offences. Motor vehicle drivers are required to leave a minimum of one-meter distance when passing a bicycle. The penalties for improper opening of a motor vehicle door has increased. These measures have been taken to increase the safety of cyclists on the roadway; however, for personal safety, cyclists should nonetheless try to be on guard against drivers who fail to follow the rules of the road.
For more information on cycling guidelines, please refer to Cycling Skills: Ontario’s Guide to Safe Cycling: http://www.mto.gov.on.ca/english/pubs/cycling-guide/pdfs/cycling-guide.pdf
For more information about brain injuries, check out The Brain Injury Society of Toronto’s website: http://www.bist.ca/