Bicycle Safety

Bicycling is a fun and popular activity which many of us enjoy recreationally, for sport, and for commuting. It leaves virtually no carbon footprint. To encourage cycling, towns and cities are designating bicycling lanes on roadways and allocating bicycling trails and pathways along waterfronts, in parks, and in hiking/wooded areas. While bicycling can be a great form of commuting, exercise, and recreation, there are some important things to keep in mind while cycling.

Rules of the Road
Under Ontario’s Highway Traffic Act, a bicycle (unicycle, bicycle, or tricycle, with steering handlebars, pedals, and no motor) is considered a vehicle on the road, just like a car or truck. Therefore, cyclists must know and obey all traffic laws, have the same rights and responsibilities as drivers, and cannot carry passengers (if the bicycle was designed for only one rider). Bicycles do not require registration, licence plates, or vehicle insurance. Cyclists do not require a driver’s license, and people of all ages can ride a bicycle.

Cyclists should ride as close to the right edge of the road wherever possible. Cyclists can ride on most roads, except controlled access highways (such as Ontario’s 400 series highways) or roads with explicit signs that there is no cycling allowed. Cyclists should walk their bicycles across a road within a pedestrian cross-over.

Helmets and Visibility
Helmets are only mandatory for cyclists under 18 years of age; however, wearing a helmet is strongly recommended for all riders as they can reduce the risk of permanent injury or death. Also, cyclists should take precautions to ensure they and their bicycle are both clearly visible to motorists. This includes flashing lights on the bicycle visible from both the front and rear, lights on the helmet, and reflectors on various areas of the bike (ie: pedals, front handlebars, seat) along with wearing bright-coloured, reflective clothing. The need for visibility increases the darker it gets outside.

Contributory Negligence
If you are a cyclist who is injured or killed in a collision with a motor vehicle, you (and some of your family members) have a right to sue the at-fault motorist. The amount of compensation will depend on what precautions you took and the allocation of fault between yourself and the motorist for the collision. For example, if you were not wearing a helmet, did not have reflectors on your bicycle, did not wear bright, reflective clothing, or did not follow the rules of the road, you will likely face contributory negligence for the collision which will reduce the amount of compensation you are entitled to. Therefore, if you are planning to do any cycling, do everything you can to engage in safe, law-abiding riding.

Oatley Vigmond is experienced at advocating for the rights of cyclists who have been injured or killed. Below is a picture taken within our ‘evidence room’, containing numerous damaged bicycles from our clients who were involved in motor vehicle collisions. In addition to representing cyclists, we also have extensive experience representing those that have been injured or killed in slip or trip and fall accidents, motor vehicle accidents, brain and spinal injuries, medical malpractice, product liability, birth injuries, dog bites, premises liability, and wrongful death.


About the Authors