A food delivery worker avoids rubble on Dundas St W. Photo: David Gray-Donald.
A food delivery worker avoids rubble on Dundas St W. Photo: David Gray-Donald.

CYCLING: Know Your Rights!

Spring brings lovely riding conditions, and cyclists out of hibernation! As you pull your bike out of storage, here’s a legal rights refresher to ensure safe and fun cycling all season long.

You should hit the streets confident that you are aware of your rights, and knowing what to do if a collision occurs.

*We encourage everyone to get a tune up, brake check, lights and bell installed, helmet fitted, etc. (See The Grind‘s “Advice from a Bike Mechanic article.)

1. Motorists aren’t looking for you, so cycle defensively:

With less of us on the roads throughout the winter, motorists are not used to seeing so many new cyclists. This is of course not an excuse for bad driving behaviour, but be aware that some won’t be looking for you and some will get panicky when you’re near them.

So, ride in a defensive manner. Assume they don’t see you or don’t care.

I hate saying that, but if that kind of thinking helps you avoid a crash, then it’s actually a positive mantra!

Some key instances to watch out for based on where our clients have been injured by motorists:

  • Right/left hooks: assume motorists aren’t indicating or slowing down, and that they may cut you off turning in front of you.
  • Dooring zone (beside parked cars): take extra space in the lane to avoid doorings.
  • On trails: ring your bell for pedestrians and dog walkers.
  • Stops signs and red lights: I’ve seen a wild number of cars roll through reds and stops. Make eye contact with the driver and make sure they will stop. When in doubt, assume they will roll through.
  • The list goes on…

2. Crashes Happen. Gather Information and Know Your Rights

If a crash occurs, take the following steps:

  1. Seek medical attention whether you think you’re injured or no. Call 911. You will be in shock, so best to get a medical professional to check you out.
  2. Gather info and take photos of their license plate, driver’s license, and the scene including damage, your injuries, the road condition, etc.
  3. Report the incident to police if they don’t attend the scene and speak to a lawyer as soon as you’ve checked in on your health.

I once got hit in a painted bike lane. In shock, I left the scene only to realize I had a broken elbow and wrist later that night. I failed to collect some critical information. We don’t want that to happen to you.

Avoid mistakes and missteps by getting a Biking Lawyer Crash Card (info@thebikinglawyer.ca). Our Crash Card prompts you to take down key information at the scene and links to our online Crash Report to quickly gather critical collision information.

3. Changing Conditions and Road Disrepair

As snow and ice melt away, gnarly potholes appear. Keep the following in mind:

  • Stay about 1 metre from the curb to avoid any debris or collapsing asphalt. This also increases your visibility.
  • Carry lights to light your way. Don’t get surprised by sudden road imperfections.
  • Wait for the right time to change over from winter tires on your bike. Construction debris, garbage, and broken glass on the streets after winter. will mean this is prime season for getting a flat tire.

Weather can be hard to predict, so carry layers and stay warm. Being cold can be distracting and decrease your response time.

Final tips:

  • Be sure your bell is in good working order and get used to ringing it loudly and proudly again.
  • Light is still an issue some mornings and evening, as well as low light days. Be sure to carry lights with you at all times, to be seen and avoid a fine.

At the Biking Lawyer LLP, we are fiercely dedicated to representing injured cyclists. Contact us at @thebikinglawyer on all socials, thebikinglawyer.ca, info@thebikinglawyer, and 1-800-725-0754.

This article appeared in the 2023 May/June issue.