Bicycling street smarts 101

Image: Bicycling street smarts 101

The summer weather is not over yet and there’s still lots of time to put your bike to use!

Whether you use your bike to commute to work, for exercise, or just for fun, road safety rules are essential to know for safe bike riding.

Around 7,500 Canadian cyclists are seriously injured on their bikes every year (CAA). Biking is both environmentally and economically friendly, however without knowledge of safe riding rules, it can be dangerous for both the riders and other drivers on the road. Here are some bike safety tips from Greatist to help keep you and your loved ones safe:

Rules of the Road

  • Bike on the road in the same direction as traffic. Even though they lack a motor, bicycles are considered road vehicles just like cars and trucks.
  • Stop at red lights and stop signs, and obey other traffic signs (i.e. one-way street, yield, etc.), just like you would in a car.
  • Use marked bike paths or lanes when they’re available.

Safety Gear

Prepare yourself with the following pieces of safety equipment before starting your ride:

  • Helmet
  • Bell or horn
  • White headlight and red taillight when riding around sunrise, sunset, or at night
  • Working brakes
  • Reflectors on the front and back of the bicycle

Good Habits for Busy Streets

  • Put down the phone. We shouldn’t even need to say this, but talking on the phone, texting, or checking Instagram while biking are major no-nos. Also refrain from listening to headphones because they can make it more difficult to hear approaching cars and pedestrians.
  • Ride in a straight line.
  • Stay on theright side of the lane, in a single-file line with other cyclists (not two or three abreast). If the street is too narrow for cars to pass, cyclists are allowed to ride in the middle of the lane to increase visibility. Keep an eye out for parked cars (or rather, doors from parked cars opening into the street).
  • Stay out of drivers’ blind spots, especially at traffic lights or stop signs.
  • Always keep at least one handon the handlebars.
  • Signal well and make eye contact with drivers before making a turn or slowing down.
  • Stay visible. Wear bright colours for daytime riding and reflective materials for night.
  • Consider sporting amirror to keep track of cars behind you.
  • Travel with a mini tool kit. If your trek is more than 10 minutes or down a lonely stretch of road, you’ll thank us. Take the time to learn how to do a few quick repairs in advance of any big rides so you don’t get stranded!

And lastly, don’t forget to have fun! Biking is all about enjoying the great outdoors, so don't forget to smile while you signal.

Happy cycling!