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What you need to know if you ride a bicycle in Ontario – Part 1

As Winter changes to Spring, it’s time to consider bicycle safety. The province of Ontario is considering proposing changes to cycling safety. The current requirement is that motorists provide sufficient space for cyclists to pass, but proposed changes would make it mandatory for 1 metre to be left between cars and cyclists. If the proposed law is passed, the fine for non-compliance would be $1000 and 2-3 demerit points.  

In Windsor, many people use bicycles as a means of transportation. The Office of the Chief Coroner of Ontario, after carrying out a review of deaths caused by cycling, made the recommendation for the 1 metre passing distance. 

In Ontario, the bicycles and the rules for operating bicycles fall under the Highway Traffic Act. Cyclists are expected to obey rules of the road. There are certain roadways that a bicycle is not allowed to operate on, for example any 400-series highway and any roadway within a pedestrian crossover.  Riders under the age of 18 must wear a helmet.  There has been discussion as to whether or not helmet use should be mandatory for riders of all ages. An approved bicycle helmet can help to greatly reduce the risk of permanent injury or death in the event of a collision or fall.  

The Ministry advises that cyclists traveling slower than the rest of traffic should stay as close as possible to the right edge of the road. Cyclists are allowed to use the whole lane if staying close to the right edge of the road is unsafe. 

Some helpful tips to consider when it comes to bicycle safety according to the Ministry of Transportation are: 

Be Seen & Be Heard: A bicycle should have proper lighting including a front light and reflectors.  Reflective clothing that is appropriate for the time of day is recommended. It is recommended to be ready for sudden stops/swerving from traffic. It is the law in Ontario that bikes have a working bell or horn. 

Handle Your Bike: The MTO provides rule for gear use such as shifting into a low, easy gear before you stop, using low easy gears when going up hill, avoiding pedaling slowly and pushing hard in your highest gears. 

Ride in a Straight Line: The key to riding safely in traffic is riding in a straight line. 

Shoulder Checking: The same way you would check your blind spots before making a turn while driving, you have to check over your shoulders while riding your bicycle to see what the traffic behind you is doing. 

Signalling:  Signalling requires being able to ride with only one hand on the handle bars. It is important to shoulder check before signalling, signal and then make the turn with both hands on the handlebars. 

Braking: In an emergency situation, the ability to stop quickly is crucial. It is important to keep a large amount of space around your bike to allow for reaction time and to stop safely. 

Emergency Handling Skills: The MTO stresses the importance of scanning the road for potential hazards such as debris, potholes and to anticipate errors made by motorists, pedestrians and other cyclists. 

If you or someone you know has been injured as the result of a bicycle or motor vehicle accident, it is important that you contact the experienced Windsor personal injury lawyers at Paciocco & Mellow at (519) 915-SORE (7673). We can provide you with a free, no obligation initial consultation.  

We understand that you may feel overwhelmed as a result of your accident and during the legal process and we strive to provide the best service possible and to help our clients in any way that we can, be it a referral to a specialist, rehabilitation provider, help securing a litigation loan or providing reassurance. 

The law firm of Paciocco & Mellow aims to help provide you with Peace of Mind at a Difficult Time.