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Eastern Ontario is a hotbed of cycling activity. From family rides along the Ottawa River to vigorous mountain biking in Algonquin Park to commuting to work in the summer months, it is turning into a cyclist’s paradise. Still, bike accidents are a risk and driving on the same roads as zooming cars only increasing the danger. Here are some tips to stay safe while biking this summer:
Though the province of Ontario has not made bicycle helmets compulsory for adult riders, you are still well-advised to wear a helmet at all times, even if just going for a casual ride on a quiet path or road. According to Statistics Canada, only 42% of cyclists aged 12 or older report “always” wearing a helmet, despite the fact that non-helmet wearers account for over 80% of cyclist fatalities. Don’t be a statistic – wear a well-fitting helmet.
Your bicycle is not a toy – it is a vehicle. Just as a car must undergo routine maintenance to ensure it is a safe vehicle to operate, your bicycle should be tuned regularly as well. At least once a year, visit a local bike shop where the pros will clean the chain, adjust the brakes, smooth out shifting, pump the tires, and ensure the frame, wheels, bell, and mechanics are in good shape.
As a cyclist, you must obey the rules of Ontario’s Highway Traffic Act. You cannot zoom through red lights and stop signs at will, jump on the sidewalk when you feel like it, or generally ride in a reckless manner. Stop at stop lights/stop signs, ride in the same direction as cars, and use arm signals to alert other drivers/riders of your intentions to stop or turn.
Unless you are an experienced cyclist, you should avoid riding at night unless comfortable with low light conditions. Even as an advanced cyclist, ensure you have a blinking LED light at the rear and a bike light at the front. You are also required by law to have a functioning bell. Drive at a safe speed and do not venture into any riding situations that make you uncomfortable.
In Eastern Ontario, we are fortunate to have a wide network of bike paths, and municipalities are slowly expanding bike lanes. If possible, use these for your own comfort and safety. However, remember that on paths shared with pedestrians or rollerbladers, your bike is the big, fast object, just like how cars and trucks are the big, fast vehicles on roads. Be respectful and safe and ride at a safe speed around pedestrians if present.
Cycling is a fantastic form of transportation and a great way to get exercise in the fresh air, but it’s not without its risk even when following all safety precautions. If you are injured in a cycling accident, you may be entitled to compensation. Schedule a consultation with Zuber Brioux to determine your legal options.