What you need to know about riding your bike in Toronto

May 17 2017, 8:23 pm

It’s Bike Month in the city and in case you’re new to biking Toronto, we’re here to help. 

With temperatures on the rise, many frustrated drivers and TTC-goers put down their keys and presto cards in favour of a simpler, two-wheeled commute to work.

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So to make your bike trip through the city a little easier, we’ve put together a guide of what you should know if you’re commuting on two wheels this summer. From rules of the road and the best bike lanes to use, to what you can do if you get into an accident, here’s what you need to know before getting behind on the wheels.

Safety First

Before you even get on your bike, there’s a few things you need to make sure you have. A bell and both front and back bike lights are required by law (not having them can result in a ticket). A good U-lock is always a good idea, and while you are not legally obligated to wear a helmet, it is definitely recommended to do so.

The Basics

If you’re familiar with the rules for driving a car, there isn’t much more to know if you’re on your bike. Stopping at red lights, coming to a full stop at stop signs, and signalling (point left when turning left, left arm bent up when turning right, left arm bent down when stopping) when switching lanes or turning are all the same. Also like a car, you can legally can take up the full lane, or as much of the lane as you need to in order to stay safe. Turning left? You can opt to turn with cars in the left turning lane, or use the pedestrian crossing to avoid traffic and streetcars (more on that later).

Another little rule that will keep you safer and save drivers a headache: When a car is signalling to turn right, you should either wait for the car to turn, or signal and move to the left of them rather than getting in the way of the turn. This keeps everyone a little safer, and also helps with the flow of traffic.

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Bike Lanes

Bike lanes have come quite a long way over the past few years, with numerous North-South and East-West options to get you to where you need to go. Here are a few of my most trusted bike lanes. If a bike lane can’t get you to where you have to go, opt for side streets and stay away from King St. and Queen St. if possible.


Bloor Street Pilot: The Bloor Street Pilot project was subject to a lot of criticism when it launched in 2016. The City has conducted multiple surveys to receive feedback on how to improve the bike lanes to make them more convenient for everyone, but many cyclists agree that the protected lane running from Shaw to Avenue creates a buffer from busy Bloor Street traffic. One thing to note: Watch for passenger doors opening on your left due to shifted street parking.

Harbord-Hoskin Bike Lane: Running from Ossington all the way to Queen’s park, this is one of the best bike lanes to go East-West. Because of that, there is quite a bit of bike traffic, especially during peak hours, so be mindful that you may be going a little slower on this lane at times. Harbord is also a little rough with pot holes right now, so make sure you are watching for those too.

Richmond-Adelaide Cycle Track Study, Including Peter & Simcoe Streets: The Richmond and Adelaide bike lanes are a great way to get into the downtown core. Because they are sectioned off from traffic, they add a buffer from cars that helps cyclists feel much safer. These are also high tragic bike lanes during peak times, so know that you’ll be amongst many trying to get to work on time.

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Shaw St. – Running from Davenport to Queen St., this bike lane is a great way to get North-South in the city. While parts of this lane are not dedicated to bikes, it is one-way for cars, making it fairly quiet and accessible for cyclists. One thing to note: it’s all uphill from Queen, so be prepared for a sweat.

St-George/Beverley – Beginning at St. George and Dupont and running to Beverley and Queen, the traffic along this bike lane is fairly quiet, and large enough that you don’t feel a lot of the traffic during peak hours.

Sherbourne – One of the best, bike lanes in the city, the Sherbourne bike lane is separated from traffic, and wide enough that you can comfortably pass other cyclists. Starting from Elm and running to King St., you can take this lane to safely get into the downtown core.

Getting into an accident

Hopefully this never happens to you, but if it does, there are a few things you need to do. If you are in a collision with a vehicle, the process is similar getting into an accident if you were operating a car. First step: call 911 to report the incident if their are any damages or injuries. Take a photo of the vehicle’s license plate, and get their insurance. Make sure to agree on a time for a follow up conversation. 

Cassandra TatoneCassandra Tatone

+ Health & Fitness