Cycling is a great method of transportation, as it is both environmentally-friendly and an effective source of exercise. Cycling in urban areas, however, can present significant safety risks. It is recommended to remain alert at all times, particularly when in close proximity to motor vehicle traffic, or when approaching intersections.
For both your own safety and that of other road-users, you should take all necessary precautions. For example, you should use bicycle hand signals appropriately, wear protective head-gear, and follow all of the rules of the road.
In case you get involved in a bicycle-motor vehicle accident, the law allows you to potentially claim compensation. Remember, motor vehicles such as cars and commercial trucks can inflict significant damage to a cyclist during a collision, and this is the primary reason you should remain proactive and use all reasonable means to avoid becoming an accident victim.
Bicycle laws in Ontario
The HTA (Highway Traffic Act) regulates all vehicular traffic, including cyclists. Additionally, as from January 2017, Ontario enacted new laws concerning proper signal lights installed for cyclists. All such laws must be obeyed, or the cyclist may potentially face fines, especially if the infraction occurred within a designated community-safety zones.
Tips for safe cycling
In addition to following bicycle laws, there are many common sense things that you must do as a cyclist to avoid accidents. These include:
- Take extra precaution while crossing streetcar and railway tracks;
- Always make sure you’re visible to drivers, especially in low visibility situations. For example, when cycling at night, consider wearing a reflective vest or bright colours (i.e. orange, yellow);
- Ensure that your bicycle is equipped with properly functioning reflective gear; and
- Wear your helmet and other necessary protective gear, such as knee and elbow pads.
- Seek immediate medical attention to determine the extent of your injuries accurately. Even if you believe that you haven’t sustained injuries, it’s recommended to get evaluated by a doctor;
- Notify the authorities immediately. The police will help properly document the accident and create a motor vehicle accident report. If you decide to pursue a personal injury claim, the accident report will be a crucial piece of evidence;
- When possible, collect and document the information of individuals and potential witnesses at the crash scene. Take some time to get important details such as the name, address, and contact information for all other drivers or witnesses involved in the accident. You should also document the license numbers and insurance details of those drivers.
Regardless of how careful you are, there is always a risk that you may become an accident victim as a cyclist. Every year, there are thousands of Canadian cyclists who sustain injuries due to bicycle accidents. Here are some tips on what you should do, should you be involved in such an accident:
Seek legal help
Under Ontario law, cyclists enjoy important legal protection and can pursue compensation via different avenues. These avenues can include the insurance policy of the at-fault motorist involved in the crash, the cyclist’s own insurance policy, and OMVACF (Ontario Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Fund). Hire a qualified Ontario personal injury lawyer who can protect your rights.