Share the road – cycle safe
One in three cycling collisions involves a person illegally biking on the sidewalk. If you’re not confident sharing the road, try 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
- A bike lane is a lane of traffic just for bikes: people on bikes should use a bike lane the same way a driver uses a car lane. Use caution and signal when making lane changes or turns.
- If there’s no bike lane, avoid passing on the right: share the road as if you’re driving a car.
- Even if there’s a bike lane, use caution when passing: drivers may not look for or see a bicycle passing on the right.
- Use caution when approaching an intersection: be aware of drivers turning right; they may not expect someone in the bike lane.
- Obey traffic rules, signs and signals: people biking follow the same rules of the road as people driving. Drivers don’t expect to see people biking the wrong way on a one-way street, riding on sidewalks or riding against the flow of traffic.
- Use hand signals: signal before making your turn, when changing lanes, and when stopping. Hand signals tell other road users what you plan to do.
- Make eye contact with people in cars: it’s safer to assume that other road users don’t see you until you’re sure they do. Eye contact is an important way of communicating with other road users.
- Scan the road behind you: practice looking back over your shoulder without losing your balance or swerving. Many riders use rear view mirrors.
- Keep both hands ready to brake: you may not stop in time if you brake with just one hand. 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 per cent. Even at slow speeds, a fall can cause a serious head injury. Riding with headphones makes it harder for you to hear what’s going on around you, and slows your reaction to emergency situations.
- Use your lights and your bell/horn: Ontario laws require that you have a white headlight and a red rear reflector or taillight on your bike, as well as a bell or horn. Use your headlight a half hour before dusk and a half hour after sunrise to make you more visible to other road users. Use your bell or horn to alert other road users to your presence if they don’t see you, or to let them know if something is happening (e.g. you are approaching them from behind, or they are veering into your lane).
- Look out for road hazards: watch out for sewer grates, gravel, ice, dirt, leaves or garbage. Cross railroad tracks at right (90-degree) angles to avoid getting your tire stuck in a track.
- Keep your bike in good repair: adjust your bike to fit you and get or do regular tune-ups to keep it working properly. Check your brakes and tires often.
- 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 other road users 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 a lane of traffic just for bikes: use caution, signal and check for people riding bikes when crossing a bike lane to park or make a turn. Don’t ever park in or block a bike lane. This forces people riding bikes into the roadway which can be dangerous for all road users.
- Use caution when approaching an intersection: watch for people on bikes who are approaching on your right and, when making a right turn, always yield to bikes approaching in the bike lane from behind you. People on bikes may be travelling faster than you think. Drivers must also yield to users who are already in or entering the intersection, including people walking and biking.
- Share the road: remember that bicycles are considered a vehicle. Share the road, be courteous, and be aware that people riding bikes are more at risk than people driving cars. Slow down and leave lots of room when passing (the law requires one metre).
- Make eye contact: people walking and biking rely on eye contact as a means of communicating with drivers to ensure they have been seen and are safe.
- Leave a one-meter space when passing: it’s the law! Drivers must move over and leave at least one-meter between their car and the edges of a bike’s handlebars when passing a person biking. If there isn’t enough room to pass with one metre of space, the driver must wait a safe distance behind the person biking until it’s safe to pass. The fine for failing to leave one-meter when passing a person on a bike is $110.
- Watch when opening car doors: if you park on the street, watch for other road users before opening your door. The fine for dooring a person riding a bike is $365.00 plus three demerit points.