Cycling safe

Share the road – cycle safe

It's a sidewalk, your bike belongs on the road. Share the road, it's the law. One in three cycling collisions involve the cyclist illegally biking on the sidewalk.  If you are not confident sharing the road find a quieter route, take an urban cycling course, or review Ontario’s Guide to Safe Cycling.

Check your ABCs before you ride

Air pressure should match the number listed on your tires
Brakes should create a skid when you roll your bike forward and squeeze them
Chain and bearings should be cleaned and oiled about once a month

Cycling tips

  • A bike lane is a lane of traffic just for cyclists – cyclists should use a bike lane the same way a driver uses a lane of traffic. Use caution and signal when making lane changes or turns.
  • If there’s no bike lane, avoid passing on the right – share the lane of traffic as if you were driving a car.
  • Even if there is a bike lane use caution when passing. Motorists may not look for or see a bicycle passing on the right.
  • Use caution when approaching an intersection – watch for drivers turning right as they may not look for cyclists approaching in the bike lane.
  • Obey traffic rules, signs and signals –Bicycles must follow the same rules of the road as other vehicles. Motorists don’t expect to see cyclists traveling the wrong way on a one-way street, riding on sidewalks or on the wrong side of the road.
Extend left hand straight to the left and point with your index finger

Left turn

Extend right arm straight to the right and point

Right turn

lift left arm so it is horizontally aligned from your shoulder to your elbow, and raise your hand so it is perpendicular to your upper arm

Right turn

extend your left arm from your shoulder to your elbow so it is horizontally aligned to your shoulders, point your hand down towards the road.


  • Use hand signals – Signal in advance of making a turn, changing lanes, and stopping. These hand signals tell motorists and pedestrians what you intend to do.
  • Make eye contact with drivers – Assume that other drivers don’t see you until you are sure that they do. Eye contact is important with any driver which might pose a threat to your safety.
  • Scan the road behind you – Learn to look back over your shoulder without losing your balance or swerving. Some riders use rear-view mirrors.
  • Keep both hands ready to brake – You may not stop in time if you brake one-handed. Allow extra distance for stopping in the rain.
  • Wear a helmet NOT headphones – Wearing a helmet has been shown to reduce serious head injuries by 85%. Even a slow speed fall can cause a serious head injury. Riding with headphones can hamper your ability to hear or react to emergency situations.
  • Use your lights and your bell/horn – The law requires a white headlight and a red rear reflector or taillight. Use your headlight ½ hour before dusk and ½ hour after sunrise to increase your visibility. The law also requires that you have/use a bell or horn to sound your attentions.
  • Look out for road hazards – Watch out for parallel-slat sewer grates, gravel, ice, sand or debris. Cross railroad tracks at right (90-degree) angles.
  • Keep your bike in good repair – Adjust your bike to fit you and keep it working properly. Check brakes and tires regularly. Routine maintenance is simple and you can learn to do it yourself.

Winter cycling

Ride to the conditions – slow down! Winter road conditions will require a bit of extra care when slowing down to turn a corner, get around obstacles, or stop at traffic signals.

Layer up – adaptable cycling gear is the best. Select clothes that you can layer and that wick away moisture; it may be cold but once you get moving your body will warm up quickly. Don’t forget to protect your face, hands and feet too.

Stay dry – keep your waterproof gear ready; there’s nothing worse than arriving at your destination soaking wet. Fenders are a great investment—they deflect water and snow from the road back down and away from you.

Lights at all times –you don’t want to get caught without your lights and reflectors after that winter sun sets. Even when cycling in the daylight, your lights will help drivers see you, especially when conditions are poor.

Wipe your bike down – road salt can eat away at your bike and its parts. Rinse or wipe salt and grit off your bike regularly.

Rack, Ride, ‘N’ Roll with Guelph Transit – All of Guelph Transit’s conventional buses are equipped with bike racks letting riders shorten their chilly winter ride, or catch a ride when the weather suddenly changes.

Tips for drivers

  • A bike lane is lane of traffic just for cyclists – Use caution, signal and check for cyclists when crossing a bike lane to park or make a turn.
  • Use caution when approaching an intersection – watch for cyclists approaching on your right and, when making a right turn, yield to cyclists approaching in the bike lane.
  • Treat cyclists like any other vehicle – share the road and be courteous.
  • Leave room when passing – leave a safe distance between your vehicle and the bicycle, especially when the road is wet or slippery.
  • Watch when opening doors– if you park on the street, watch for cyclists and other vehicles before opening your door.

Additional resources

Images courtesy of Ontario Ministry of Transportation Ontario Guide to Safe Cycling