10 cycling safety tips for Ottawa roads

One of CBC's avid cyclists, videojournalist Steve Fischer, shares his tips from many years riding his bike on Ottawa roads.
CBC reporter Steve Fischer offers his suggested bike route around Ottawa. 3:26
Steve Fischer

CBC videojournalist Steve Fischer is a cycling enthusiast and a do-it-yourself kind of guy.

He is also very practical and careful when he hops on his bike.

After many years riding Ottawa roads, Steve shares his 10 safety tips for cyclists on Ottawa's roads:

  • Get a rearview mirror (Even if they do look a bit geeky). Cars have them — so should you — and they only cost about $10. I use one that attaches to my sunglasses easily, but you can also get one that goes on the helmet or the bike. They have saved me from many "close calls."
  • Wear a helmet. They are light, comfortable and cheap and could save your life.
  • Use lights and a bell (or whistle). If riding at dusk or later, lights, especially an LED red light at the back that blinks, will go a long way helping cars see you. They are also very cheap. Bells are required by law and help you avoid collisions with pedestrians.
  • Maintain your brakes. It's easy to adjust your brakes so they can stop quickly.
  • Obey the rules of the road. Stop at red lights, ride on the right side of the road, but carefully move into the middle of the lane and let the cars wait behind you when turning left. You have as much right to that left turn lane as they do.
  • Avoid commuter roads. These include: Carling Avenue, Main Street, Heron Road, Baseline Road, Bronson Avenue, Scott Street, Albert, Slater, Greenbank Road, Woodroffe Avenue, and Innes Road. Drivers are often in a hurry, preoccupied and going way too fast. 
  • Use bike paths and bike lanes. We have just about the best cycling network in the country — take advantage of it.  But slow down for pedestrians, rollerbladers — and Canada Geese.
  • Steer clear of parked cars. A driver's side door can suddenly open unexpectedly, knocking you into traffic. An obvious warning sign is someone sitting in the driver's seat.  Watch your rear view to see if there is room to swerve out if a door suddenly opens. Slow down considerably if the road is tight without much room between the parked car and the traffic flow.
  • Use the Laurier Avenue bike lane. It is the safest way to travel east to west through the downtown core (Queen, Albert and Slater streets are all cycling nightmares.) Also, keep an eye out for pedestrians — they tend to jaywalk right into the bike lane without looking.
  • Stay behind OC Transpo buses. It is unsafe to pass them. They are an irritant for cyclists but are travelling at about the same speed you are. So just be patient and hope they turn off on another street.