Spring Cycling Legal Guide
Updated: Apr 21
Spring in all its glory brings lovely riding conditions and cyclists out of hibernation! If you’re pulling your bike out of storage or off the trainer, we want to provide you with a legal rights refresher.
You should hit the streets confident that you are aware of your rights and know what to do if a collision occurs.
*Before we get to that we encourage everyone to get a tune up, brake check, lights and bell purchased, helmet fitting, etc.
As cycling law specialists we want to provide a reminder on key cycling rights information, tips to avoid crashes/info on what to do if they occur, and how to ensure you have access to the supports you need post-collision.
1. Motorists aren't looking for you, cycle defensively:
With less of us on the roads throughout the winter motorists are not used to seeing so many new cyclists (of course not an excuse). Some won't be looking for you and some will get panicky when you're near them. It's therefore especially timely to start riding in a defensive manner.
Assume they don't see you or don't care.
I always hate saying that, it sounds all doom and gloom, but if that kind of thinking helps you avoid a crash then it's actually a rather positive mantra!
Some key instances to watch out for based on where our clients (and ourselves) have been injured by motorists:
Right/left hooks: Ride assuming that they aren’t indicating or slowing down, but they will turn right or left in front of you.
Dooring Zone: take extra space in the lane to avoid doorings. As it's still cool, windows will be up and your bell may go unheard.
On trails: ring your bell for pedestrians and dog walkers, they too may not expect you.
Stops signs and red lights: I've seen a wild number of cars roll through reds/stops. Heck even the City workers are doing it. Make eye contact with the driver and make sure they will stop. When in doubt, assume they will roll through.
Changing Lanes: Do so early, signal and only change lanes when you've tripled checked. I have had 3 close calls this month.
Of course this list can go on but you get the idea...throw some of your ideas in the comments section!
Final tips: Be sure your bell is in good working order and get used to ringing it loudly and proudly again.
The light is still an issue some mornings and evening, as well as low light days. Be sure to carry lights with you at all times, to be seen and avoid a fine.
2. Bookmark our Online Crash Report and read our Cyclist's Crash Guide:
Be sure to bookmark, save/remember our online Crash Report to quickly gather critical collision information at the scene of a crash. Through this online form we prompt you to get driver's license details, insurance information and upload photos.
Once you’ve saved the Crash Report in a handy place, familiarize yourself with our Cyclist's Crash Guide. If you can't get the Crash Report filled out on scene, it's critical to do the following:
Seek medical attention whether you think you're injured or not.
Get the driver's license, plate, and insurance information.
Take photos of the scene, the car, the damage, your injuries, the insurance card, etc.
Report this incident to authorities and speak to a lawyer as soon as you've checked in on your health.
I once got hit in a painted bike lane. In shock left the scene only to realize I had a broken elbow and wrist later that night. I failed to collect some critical information. We don’t want that to happen to you.
Our goal is to make every cyclist aware of what to do if the unfortunate ever occurs, but to never have to use that information.
We have also worked hard over the past few years to create the following legal guides for cyclists:
We also host Know Your Rights seminars regularly. Book one for your cycling group/organization/club or bike shop here: BOOK A FREE WORKSHOP
3. Changing Conditions and Road Disrepair
Finally, spring brings changing weather. Snow and ice melts away, revealing grand canyon size pot holes. Whether you're riding on a city street, country road, or trail keep the following in mind:
Stay about 1 meter from the side of the road to avoid any debris or collapsing asphalt. This also increases your visibility (thanks CycleTO).
Carry lights to light your way. Don't get surprised by sudden road imperfections if the sun goes down and you're still riding.
Wait for the right time to change over from winter tires. Lots of construction debris, garbage, etc. will mean this is prime flat season. How to fix a flat Cycle Toronto video
To that end, carry tools, especially if you're far from a bike shop.
Weather can be hard to predict so please also carry layers and stay warm. Being cold can be distracting and decrease your response time. In order to effectively cycle defensively you’ll need to be focused on the road and your riding.
For more information on this and other spring cycling experiences we’re all familiar with check out our friends Canadian Cycling Magazine’s: “9 spring-riding experiences every Canadian cyclist can relate to”
Final Legal Plug (Highway Traffic Act):
Helmet – Great for avoiding long term injury.
Buy a helmet, wear a helmet, protect your head!
Under 18? It’s the law, avoid a $65 fine! HTA s. 104
Bike Lights – Be seen, avoid unexpected obstacles. Riding without lights could result in 85.00 fine! HTA s. 62(17)
Ring that Bell – Buy a bell, make some noise and avoid an $85.00 fine! HTA s. 75(5)
Working Brakes –Good brakes are a must. Have your local bike shop check your brakes.
Be sure you can stop and avoid an $85.00 fine! HTA 64(3)
Ride safe and ride often friends.
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