Approximately 7,500 cyclists are seriously injured each year in Canada, according to the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA). Taking simple safety measures and abiding by the rules of the road can greatly reduce your risk of bicycle accidents.
Take a look at some of the following safety tips compiled by the Canadian Safety Council and the CAA, and put them into practice each time you hit the road.
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General Cycle Safety Tips
It’s important to have a good understanding of the fundamentals of cycling safety.
Here are a few general safety tips to keep in mind:
- Abide by the CAA mantra: “Be Alert, Be Wary, Be Seen.” This means to be alert to and pay close attention to the task at hand, be wary of and scan for traffic and hazards, and be seen by using your horn, hand signals, and bike lights.
- Make it common practice to ride defensively and anticipate the actions of others (drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians) to avoid a collision.
- Don’t ride with more passengers on your bike than it was designed.
- Ride in single file, not abreast. Keep a safe distance from cyclists in front of you to avoid colliding if they stop short or wreck.
- Keep to the right side of the road or on the bike path if one is available.
- Avoid riding on busy road or at peak traffic times, if possible.
- Wear a helmet every time you ride. It will increase your risk of survival if you are in a bike accident.
Tips to Avoiding Bicycle-Auto Accidents
Given the open, unprotected nature of a rider on a bicycle, colliding with a car can cause serious and fatal injuries.
There are simple things you can do to reduce your risks on the road:
- Ride slowly and carefully during poor weather. Wet, icy, or slushy roads and weather conditions can affect your and other drivers’ maneuverability and visibility.
- Be aware of glare. Remember that glare can blind everyone on the road; if a driver can’t see you, you are in danger. Visibility is further reduced at dusk and dawn. Be aware of these conditions and handle your bicycle trip accordingly.
- Make yourself easy to see. One-third of bicycle accident deaths occur at night, the CAA reports. Reduce your risk by wearing bright clothing, adding extra lights to your bike, using reflectors, wearing clothes with reflective material, and putting retro-reflective tape on your clothing.
- Consider purchasing a helmet-mounted mirror for added safety.
Cycling Safety: Be Informed and Prepared
Like all road users, cyclists are expected to abide by the rules of the road. To make sure you are informed of your responsibilities and are in compliant with cycling laws, try the following resources.
First, a cycling safety course. Consider taking a CAN-BIKE safety course, which are sponsored by the Canadian Cycling Association and administered in Ontario by the Ontario Cycling Association (OCA). For more information, contact the OCA at 416-426-7416.
Check out a cycling skills publication: download the Ontario Ministry of Transportation’s free Cycling Skills publication from its website, which covers:
- cycling laws; and
- safety tips.
If necessary, get legal help. If you have been involved in a cycling accident, you can contact Preszler Law in Ontario for a free legal consultation. Call 1-800-JUSTICE® or contact us online.