Its been said that those who succeed in gaining the mastery of
the bicycle will gain the mastery of life.
To truly gain bicycle mastery, you must become proficient in
cycling safety. In order to do so, we have provided you with an
overview of safety equipment, a guide to cycling in traffic, and
recommendations in the event you are involved in an accident.
Before riding your bicycle, it is important for you to check
that it is in proper working order. Pay particular attention to the
following bicycle parts to ensure that:
Quick-release levers are tight;
The headset turns freely;
Brakes are functioning properly and
not rubbing against the rims;
Axles are not loose;
Tires are appropriately
Spokes are not bent or loose;
Wheels are centred in the forks.
Under Ontario law (Section 104 of the Highway Traffic
Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, as amended), you must wear an
approved bicycle helmet when riding a bicycle. To determine whether
a helmet is approved, look for a tag on the helmet from a safety
organization such as the Canadian Standards Association. If you are
involved in an accident, an approved helmet can significantly
reduce your risk of serious and permanent injury.
Cycling in Traffic
Given that a bicycle is considered a vehicle under the
Highway Traffic Act, you have the same rights and
responsibilities to follow all traffic laws as other users of the
road. This means that you must obey all traffic signs, signals, and
road markings, without exception. You must also use appropriate
hand signals to alert other drivers of your intention to change
lanes, turn, or stop. In addition, and as with driving a car, it is
illegal to ride a bicycle while under the influence of alcohol,
narcotics, or prescription drugs.
While cycling in traffic, use designated bicycle lanes wherever
possible and, on unmarked roads, stay no more than one (1) metre
away from the curb. It is imperative that you look back over your
shoulder to determine the activity of the traffic behind you before
you change lanes, turn, or stop. Be vigilant when passing parked
cars or slow-moving vehicles and be conscious of blind spots when
doing so; especially, in relation to buses and trucks. Also, be
alert for road surface hazards such as holes, depressions, raised
surfaces, loose gravel, wet pavement, and sharp objects.
If you are cycling with a group, ride single file on two-lane
roads or when traffic is heavy on multi-lane roads. Remember to
keep at least one (1) metre apart from other cyclists in the group
and increase your spacing accordingly when travelling downhill or
at high speed.
Cycling Accident Recommendations
If you are involved in an accident while riding your bicycle, we
recommend that you take the following steps:
Seek immediate medical treatment for
Obtain the name, address, phone
number, driver's license, car make and model, and insurance
details for all parties involved in the accident;
If you have car insurance, report the
accident to your insurer within seven (7) days of the
If you do not have car insurance,
immediately report the accident to the insurer of the party that is
at fault for your accident;
Seek medical treatment from your
family physician and any other recommended treatment provider;
Consult with an appropriately skilled
and experienced lawyer at Howie, Sacks & Henry LLP.
As the warmth of the summer months open our lives to the fun and
enjoyment of outdoor activities such as cycling, the exposure to
potential life-altering accidents increases as a result. However,
by reviewing and following the above safety measures and
recommendations, you are that much closer to gaining mastery of the
bicycle and, by extension, to gaining (and safeguarding) mastery of
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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