Canada

5 cycling tips you need to know

Spring is here, which means more people are hopping on their bikes. But an increase in two-wheel traffic means the potential for more accidents. Here are some tips for making cycling safer.

Increase in bike traffic means potential for more accidents

5 tips for safe cycling

7 years ago
Duration 2:35
Warm weather means more cyclists are taking to the roads. 5 tips to keep you safe.

Spring has sprung and that means many people are pulling their bicycles out of storage and taking to the streets.

An increase in two-wheel traffic means the potential for more accidents, says Constable Hue Smith, the police cyclist trainer at Toronto Traffic Services.

According to the most recent statistics released by the city, there were 1,459 cyclist collisions per 100,000 people over a five-year period.

While Toronto has the highest collision rate of any city in Canada, biking in any major city is a challenge. Montreal ranks second with a cyclist collision rate of 743 per 100,000, followed by Ottawa with 335.

Const. Smith says that bike collisions are most often the result of poor driving, failing to yield to right-of-way and improper turning.

He says cyclists need to remember that they're more physically vulnerable than automobile drivers.

"The judgment you have on the road as a cyclist is going to be quite different than what you will have as a pedestrian or if you are driving a motor vehicle."

Don't take short cuts

That said, most of the traffic regulations in the province that apply to motorists also apply to cyclists. Whether it's a stop sign or a red light, cyclists must come to a complete stop and wait for traffic to cross.

Constable Hue Smith, the police cyclist trainer at Toronto Traffic Services, says cyclists need to remember that they're more physically vulnerable than automobile drivers.

A lot of cyclists tend not to stop because it means having to struggle to start up again, says Const. Smith. He explains that it's all about taking the time to switch to a lighter gear.

"[Some cyclists] aren't planning when they get to the intersection," says Const. Smith. "We have to recognize traffic is moving laterally and ask, Are we stopping? Are we slowing? Have we used our horn to warn [other drivers] that we're coming?"

For the first part of the riding season, the most common violation that Const. Smith sees is cyclists taking short cuts onto sidewalks to avoid braking.

A similar thing can happen around buses and streetcars. As a rule of thumb, a cyclist should stop two metres behind the rear door, whether there's somebody coming on or off. But sometimes, they will wander onto the sidewalk or through pedestrians who are loading onto transit.

"Overall, sidewalks are for pedestrians and right-of-way is for pedestrians."

In order to guarantee a safe trip from point A to point B, Const. Smith says that communication is key.

"We have to look over our shoulder," Const. Smith says. "We have to communicate and signal, and it has to be clear to all road users."


5 essential biking tips

According to Const. Smith, there are certain things every cyclist should do to ensure a smooth, safe ride.

  1. Make sure your bicycle is in working order.
  2. Acquaint yourself with the rules of the road.
  3. Stay off sidewalks.
  4. Communicate clearly with other drivers and pedestrians in order to ensure everyone's safety.
  5. Try not to ride beyond your limits – if necessary, take breaks to hydrate and rest.

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