John StallSee more blogs
Since many of you are considering dragging the old bicycle out of the garage for the first time in years, I thought I’d take a look at some of the rules of the road you need to follow. There are a lot of traffic laws you should be aware of in order to ride responsibly and safely. First of all a bicycle is considered a vehicle under the Ontario Highway Traffic Act (HTA). So, as a cyclist, you are required to obey traffic laws just like motorists are. If you don’t it can cost you both a minimum set fine, as well as a Victim Surcharge for most offences. Some of the rules for cyclists are the same as the ones for motorists. There are the obvious ones like signalling your turns. But there are others that you may not think apply to you. For example you can be charged with speeding. It may seem funny to think of a bike being able to exceed speed limits set for motorized vehicles but a bike going down a hill in a 40 km/hr zone can surpass the limit. You are also required to stop at stop signs.As a cyclist I admit I have been guilty of breaking this rule. When you are going down a hill with a stop sign at the bottom and you are facing an uphill ride it is very tempting to keep the momentum going. But it is a dangerous thing to do and you are facing an $85.00 fine plus a surcharge.Other traffic laws that could cost you the same amount are riding the wrong way on a one way street, not stopping behind streetcar doors to let people on and off and not yielding or stopping for pedestrians at crosswalks.If you do not stop behind a school bus when the red lights are flashing and the arm is out you could be fined $400.00. There are also specific rules for cyclists regarding reflectors and lights. You also need to have a working bell – again an $85.00 fine plus a surcharge. You must have at least one brake system on the rear wheel. You are not allowed to carry passengers on a bicycle for one and you must wear a helmet if you are under the age of 18. Breaking this law carries a $60.00 fine. You need to be aware of bike riding bylaws as well. For example in some jurisdictions you are not allowed to ride on sidewalks, you must have both hands on the handlebars and you must ride single-file. Yes, there are a lot of laws that cyclists must follow. But if you are also a driver, just follow the same rules of the road for both and you should be okay. As far as the specific bylaws, keep your eyes open for signs that pertain to cyclists. In Etobicoke where I live you are not allowed to ride on sidewalks and that bylaw is very well posted.