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Cycling Safety

Whether you commute on your bike, tour, or road race, you are a vehicle sharing the road with other vehicles. Riding responsibly, being visible, and being aware of what's around you will enhance your safety on the road.

Ride More

Concern for safety is a barrier that prevents Canadians from riding more. But, in urban areas, more cyclists on the roads generally leads to better, safer facilities for riding. Motorists adjust their behaviour as they become used to seeing cyclists on the roads. And the more people blend their modes of transport (sometimes they drive, sometimes they ride) the less friction there is between drivers and cyclist. So more riding actually leads to safer riding.

Be Visible and Predictable

Give motorists a chance to see you. Vehicles create blind spots for drivers, and cyclists are often hard to spot. This goes double at night, and triple on rainy or snowy nights. Wear bright clothing, reflective material, or a safety vest. At night use a white front light and a red rear light, and add plenty of reflective items.

Cyclists are particularly vulnerable at intersections. While drivers are signalling, changing direction, and watching traffic they may miss seeing an approaching cyclist. Stopping as indicated, signalling your intentions, and obeying all rules of traffic will help drivers predict where you're going to be.

Claim Your Lane

Excellent advice for cyclists in many circumstances, it can deter motorists from attempting dangerous passes. But if there's a car or two behind you, look for a long enough gap in the lane of parked cars ahead, arc gracefully into it. Merge back into the traffic lane after the cars pass. (Remember to shoulder check and watch for car doors in the process.) Letting cars pass, helps improve motorist-cyclist relations. When riding with a group, consider the formation that's most appropriate. Few things are as irritating to motorists as a slow-rolling mob of cyclists blocking a lane.

Motorists should remember too, with the exception of some high speed highways, cyclists have as much right to be on the road as cars. Drivers should consciously look for bikes not simply scan for objects that are car-sized or larger.

Respect Shared Paths

When your ride takes you onto a shared path or multi-use area, you need to adjust your speed. Treat pedestrians as fellow human beings, not mobile "meat pylons" there for you to show off your slaloming skills. When overtaking, give them as much clearance as possible, and warn them with a ring of your bell or by calling out "on your left" at an audible but not alarming volume. Pedestrians are not likely to anticipate fast-moving objects coming up behind them. They may gesture, stop, or abruptly change direction. Try to ride slowly enough so you can react easily to any unexpected movement.