YOUR GUIDE TO CYCLING SAFETY
Cycling is one of the great joys of beautiful summer months. Unfortunately, with the overwhelming amount of cars on the road this fun summer activity can be fatal. Approximately 7,500 cyclists are seriously injured every year in Canada. Surprisingly, most injuries and crashes occur during the afternoon rush hour and cyclists are more likely to be killed or injured at a location where there are traffic signals or traffic control signs.
These stats tell us that there is a big void in proper cycling safety, both for cyclists and drivers alike. Here are your most important tips for safe cycling:
Choose a well-fitting bike
Frame: Safe cycling starts with a bike that fits you well. Frame size varies per bicycle, but as a general rule you should be able to stand flat-footed over your bike frame with 2-5 centimetres of space between.
Seat: To ensure your seat is the right height, sit on the seat with the balls of your feet on the pedals. When you stretch your leg out at the bottom of the stroke, your leg should be almost straight with your knees slightly bent.
It’s extremely important, mostly for your own safety, that your bike is up to speed and safe to ride. Your best bet is to take your bike to your local bike repair shop and have them test and tune it for you, as you would a vehicle. For a comprehensive DIY safety checklist, click here.
Protect your head
An approved bike helmet will not only prevent you from injury, it can act as your barrier from fatality. The key, however, is to wear it properly. Look for safety standards sticker meeting the approval of safety organizations such as the Canadian Standards Association (CSA), Snell, ANSI, ASTM, BSI, CPSC and SAA.
In Ontario, it’s the law that every cyclist under the age of 18 must wear an approved bicycle helmet.
To check proper fit remember the following:
- There should be two finger widths between your eyebrow and the helmet.
- Straps should be flat against the face
- Side straps should meet just below your ear, making a V-shape.
- Chin strap should be fastened snugly with enough room to fit one finger.
Be seen and heard
Bicycles are one of the smallest vehicles on the road, so it’s very important to make sure you are seen and heard. Make sure you:
- Use lighting on your bike in the evenings
- Wear reflective clothing in the evenings
- Use a bell on your bike to be able to warn people around you
- Do not use technology or listen to music when you are riding your bike
Know how to communicate
Knowing how to signal on the road while you’re biking can save your life. The majority of accidents happen when drivers can’t anticipate a cyclist’s actions. Knowing how to communicate your next move can save you from serious harm- and protect you from liability.
Know the rules
As of January 1, 2016, the Ontario Government implemented a new law that states all cyclists (and drivers) must stop and yield the whole roadway at: pedestrian crossover and at school crossings with a crossing guard. This means that as a cyclist, you are required to wait until pedestrians have crossed the entire crossway before continuing to accelerate.
Don’t forget, you may only have two wheels, but you’re still required to ride along the road and not on sidewalks. Stick to designated bike lanes and if there aren’t any, ride very carefully on the right hand side of the road.
Click here for the Ontario Government’s guide to cycling safety.