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Port Stanley News RSS Feed  Regional Bicycle Safety


Cst. Ed Sanchuk, OPP
Bicycle Safety

Norfolk County, ON - The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), Norfolk County detachment would like to remind everyone that we all share the roadway with different vehicles and bicycles are included. Public safety is the OPP's top priority and we want to ensure that we prevent collisions before they occur.

Cycling is a fun, healthy and an inexpensive way to get around, whether you cycle to and from work, school, or for recreation. Hazards can be avoided when you have good handling and traffic skills

The Ontario Highway Traffic Act (HTA) defines the bicycle as a vehicle that belongs on the road and riding on the road means mixing with other traffic. This is only safe when all traffic uses the same rules of the road.

When everyone operates under these rules, actions become more predictable. Drivers can anticipate your moves and plan accordingly. Likewise, you too can anticipate and deal safely with the actions of others.

The bicycle, by nature, differs from most other vehicles in two important ways. First, the bicycle is very narrow. Consequently, where most vehicles use a full lane, the bicycle uses only a fraction of a lane.

Second, the bicycle is often slower than most other vehicles. In urban areas, cyclists generally move at one-third to two-thirds the speed of the traffic around them, except where traffic congestion slows cars and trucks. However, in rural areas, or on faster roads the difference is much greater. How a cyclist manoeuvres in traffic will depend on their speed in relation to motorists.

Dealing With Other Vehicles

As in urban areas, drive as close as practicable to the right side of the road, shoulder check, signal and shoulder check before attempting a lane change and obey all traffic signs, signals and laws. In less densely populated areas, motorists may not be anticipating cyclists, so drive defensively.

On two lane roads, watch out for motorists travelling in the opposite direction overtaking other vehicles by moving into your lane. Because bicycles are relatively small, they often can't be seen from a distance.

Anticipate such situations and take steps to make yourself more visible by wearing brightly coloured clothing and helmet

Travelling In Groups

There are a few safety tips to keep in mind when travelling in groups.

  • Ride in single file on the road.
  • Keep at least a metre apart from other cyclists in the group and keep several lengths apart when going downhill at high speed.
  • If you are travelling in a large group, break up into smaller groups of about four to six. Keep about a kilometre between groups to allow traffic to pass.

Legal Responsibilty

A bicycle is a vehicle under the Ontario Highway Traffic Act (HTA). This means that, as a bicyclist, you have the same rights and responsibilities to obey all traffic laws as other road users. The following are key sections of the HTA concerning cyclists.

HTA 144/136 -Traffic signals and signs - stop for red lights and stop signs and comply with all other signs.

HTA 153 - One ways streets - ride in the designated direction on one-way streets.

HTA 147 - Slow moving traffic - any vehicle moving slower than the normal traffic speed should drive in the right-hand lane, or as close as practicable to the right edge of the road except when preparing to turn left or when passing another vehicle.

For cyclists, you must ride far enough out from the curb to maintain a straight line, clear of sewer grates, debris, potholes, and parked car doors. You may occupy any part of a lane when your safety warrants it. Never compromise your safety for the convenience of a motorist behind you.

HTA 142 - Signalling a turn - before turning, look behind you and signal your turn. Cyclists can use their right arm to signal a right turn.

HTA 140/144(29) - Crosswalks - stop for pedestrians at crosswalks and walk your bike when crossing at a crosswalk.

HTA 175 (12) - Stopped School Buses - stop for stopped school buses when the upper alternating red lights are flashing and the stop arm is out.

HTA 62 - Lights - a bike must have a white front light and a red rear light or reflector if you ride between ½ hour before sunset and ½ hour after sunrise.

HTA 62 (17) - Reflective tape - a bike must have white reflective tape on the front forks and red reflective tape on the rear forks.

HTA 75 (5) - Bell - a bike must have a bell or horn in good working order.

HTA 64 - Brakes - a bike must have at least one brake system on the rear wheel. When you put on the brakes, you should be able to skid on dry, level pavement.

HTA 218 - Identification - Cyclists must identify themselves when stopped by police for breaking traffic laws. The police officer will ask you for your correct name and address.

HTA 185 - Expressways - Bicycles are prohibited on expressway/ freeway highways such as the 400 series, the QEW, Ottawa Queensway and on roads where "No Bicycle" signs are posted.

HTA 178 - Passengers - Passengers are not allowed on a bicycle designed for one person.

HTA 178 - Attaching to a vehicle - You are not permitted to attach yourself to the outside of another vehicle or streetcar for the purpose of "hitching a ride".

HTA 104 - Helmets - Every cyclist under the age of eighteen must wear an approved bicycle helmet. Parents or guardians shall not knowingly permit cyclists under sixteen to ride without a helmet.

HTA 179 - Dismounted bicyclist - Cyclists are required to ride on the right-hand side of the road. If you are walking your bike on a highway where there are no sidewalks, you are considered a pedestrian and you should walk on the left-hand side of the road facing traffic. If it is not safe for you to cross the road to face traffic, you may walk your bike on the right-hand side of the road.

"Bicycles are one of the smallest vehicles on the road, it is important for cyclists to be as visible as possible to other road users at all times. This means wearing white or bright coloured clothing when you ride. A helmet with reflective material on it also helps to make you more visible and we want to ensure that the motoring public and cyclists share the roadway and responsibilities so everyone remains safe," comments Inspector Zvonko Horvat, Norfolk County OPP Detachment Commander.

OPP Contact Information

Last Updated: Tuesday, 18 April 2017 11:13:29 AM EST

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