Getting around the city by bicycle in the summer comes with a wealth of benefits.
For starters, you don’t have to worry about spending time stuck in traffic on a stuffy bus, or sticking to someone else’s arm on the subway (we’ve all been there, it’s gross). Instead, you can ride along with the wind in your hair (under a helmet), and you’ll probably even get home faster, too.
But you’ve also got to share the road with others driving cars, buses, trucks, and motorcycles. That’s why it’s important to be mindful of the fact that a bicycle is considered a vehicle under Ontario’s Highway Traffic Act (HTA).
In the eyes of the law, your tastefully-coloured bike is the same as a pickup truck. So, to help you avoid the most common bicycle injuries that Torontonian riders face each year, we’ve rounded up five things you can do to protect yourself this summer.
Know the law
It might sound like a given, but you need to know the rules of the road in order to obey all traffic laws. As a cyclist you have the same rights and responsibilities as someone driving a car, so it never hurts to be informed, for your own sake. You can find out more information through the Ontario Ministry of Transport.
Wear your helmet
Okay, this one might sound obvious, yet many Torontonians choose to put their faces (and, you know, lives) at risk every day by going helmet-free. And that’s likely because helmets are not required by law for adults over 18.
A 2012 study of 129 deaths by bicycle-related deaths in Ontario, published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, revealed that cycling without a helmet tripled the chances of riders dying as a result of head injury.
Wearing a helmet can greatly reduce the risk of permanent injury or death if you fall or crash. By law, every cyclist under the age of 18 must wear an approved helmet. If riders are under 16 years old, a parent or guardian must make sure that their child wears a helmet.
Of course, to ensure that you’re safe while cycling, it’s best to invest in a helmet that meets strict safety standards and fits properly when you’re wearing it correctly.
Don’t carry passengers
As tempting as it is to give a friend a ride across town, it’s also a great way to have an accident and double the amount of people injured at the same time. If your bicycle is only meant for one person you cannot carry additional passengers as you’ll put yourself (and them) in danger.
Cross streetcar tracks (the safe way)
When you’re crossing at streetcar and railway tracks you’ll want to make sure that you cross at the right angle; literally, the right angle. (It’s the law.) Otherwise, you’re liable to catch your wheel in the tracks, and face plant (at the very least). Cross on the right even when you’re passing slots or cracks in the pavement or sewer gates to ensure your safety is paramount.
If streetcars are stopping to pick up passengers make sure you stop two metres behind the rear door until all passengers have boarded and disembarked on the sidewalk.
Signal your intentions
Always signal your intentions and check over your shoulder before you make any turn to let other road users know where you’re planning to go next. This is beneficial for everyone on the road.
When a car is signaling 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. And since you can legally take up as much of the lane as you need in order to stay safe, what’s stopping you?
Even if you follow all of the tips above (and please do that), accidents can still happen. If you find yourself injured or in a bad situation, it’s crucial that you protect your rights and get the necessary medical treatment that you need.
This is where a skilled accident lawyer can help you navigate the complexity of your case. Toronto’s Goldfinger Injury Lawyers can assist you with any bicycle-related or diverse personal injury claims that you may have, leaving you to focus on your recovery.