Keeping cyclists safe is as much a job for cyclists as it is for drivers who share the road with them! Cycling is becoming a popular mode of transportation - it’s a fun way to exercise and cut commuting costs! Unfortunately, an average of 74 Canadians are killed in cycling collisions yearly, 73% of those incidents involving a motor vehicle. By following basic safety tips, drivers and cyclists can help keep each other safe!
Check Your Equipment
The City of Toronto recommends an easy-to-remember ABCD check:
Air - check for inflated tires
Brakes + Bells
Chain + Crank
Drop - drop the bike to check for loose seat or parts that need fixing
Carry a Bike Kit
Have a small bag that attaches to the back of your bike with safety essentials:
- Patch kit for punctures
- Alcohol wipes, bandaids, a roll of gauze
- Phone and ID
- Cash to catch a bus
- Water bottle
Choose Safety Over Convenience
Busy roads may be quicker and commuting can limit your options, but giving yourself extra time to take a safer route can save your life. Choose quieter routes with wider roads or designated bike lanes. Bike during daylight hours if possible, as accidents are more likely to happen between dusk and dawn when visibility is limited!
Plan to be Seen + Heard
There are a few easy ways to make sure you’re noticeable to drivers:
- Wear bright colours and reflective fabric
- Have reflectors on the bike - pedals, spokes, front, rear
- Install a bell or horn
Get the Right Helmet Fit
Your helmet is one of the most important parts of your bike kit that keeps you safe. While there is no way to externally protect your brain 100% against concussions, having a properly fitted helmet can help reduce the severity of the injury.
Follow the Rules of the Road
Cyclists and drivers follow the same rules of the road, so it’s important to understand the traffic laws in your area. If you’re travelling in a group, stay single file going in the direction of traffic.
Know Your Signals and Use Them
Bikes don’t have turning signals, which is why cyclists have a universally recognized system using hands! These hand signals are not only helpful to communicate with drivers around you, but also other cyclists on the road.
Stay Alert To Stay Safe
Keep your head up and always look around you, especially when approaching intersections. Before entering traffic stop and look both ways and over your shoulder before going. Teach yourself to look over your shoulder without swerving, and consider installing a rearview mirror on your handlebars. Don’t listen to headphones - there is distracted driving and there is distracted cycling!
> CAA National. (2022, June 3). Bike Safety Statistics. https://www.caa.ca/driving-safely/cycling/bike-statistics/
> Cycling Safety. (2022, July 5). City of Toronto. https://www.toronto.ca/services-payments/streets-parking-transportation/cycling-in-toronto/cycling-safety-education-theft-prevention/cycling-safety/
> Arthurs-Brennan, M. (2019, October 19). Concussion and cycling: the life-saving facts. Cyclingweekly.Com. https://www.cyclingweekly.com/news/latest-news/concussion-life-saving-facts-440763
> CANYON. (2021, December 1). Canada’s best cycling cities. https://www.canyon.com/en-ca/blog-content/hybrid-bike-news/best-cycling-cities-canada/b01122021.html
> Hansen-Gillis, L. (2021, June 15). Hand signals all cyclists should know before joining a group ride. Canadian Cycling Magazine. https://cyclingmagazine.ca/sections/training-guide/training/hand-signals/