Bicycle Safety

Photo of a bicycle and helmet

Cycling is a fun and healthy activity, it's a low-cost way to get around, and it's good for the environment.

Before you head out on a bike, learn the rules of the road, helmet information and safety tips for cyclists of all ages.

Cycling guides

Learn more about safe cycling:

What is a bicycle?

A bicycle, or bike, is a vehicle that:

  • has one, two or three wheels (a unicycle, bicycle or tricycle)
  • has steering handlebars and pedals
  • does not have a motor. For motor-assisted bikes, read about electric bicycles or scooters and mopeds

Licence and registration

Bicycles do not require:

  • registration
  • licence plates
  • vehicle insurance
  • a driver's licence

People of all ages can ride a bike.

Rules of the road

As a cyclist, you must share the road with others (e.g., cars, buses, trucks, motorcycles, etc.).

Under Ontario's Highway Traffic Act (HTA), a bicycle is a vehicle, just like a car or truck.

Cyclists:

  • must obey all traffic laws
  • have the same rights and responsibilities as drivers
  • cannot carry passengers - if your bicycle is only meant for one person

Riding on the right

You must stay as close to the right edge of the road whenever possible, especially if you're slower than other traffic.

Where you can ride

You can ride on most roads, except:

  • controlled access highways, such as Ontario's 400-series highways
  • across a road within a pedestrian cross-over - you must walk your bike to the other side

Bike helmets

Children and youth

Bicycle helmet

By law, every cyclist under age 18 must wear an approved helmet.

Riders under 16 years old: a parent or guardian must make sure their child wears a helmet.

Adults

Helmets are not compulsory for adults over 18; but a helmet can greatly reduce the risk of permanent injury or death if you fall or collide. It is strongly recommended that all riders wear helmets.

Types of helmets

The best helmets:

  • are made to meet strict safety standards
  • fit properly when worn correctly

Bicycle safety resources

For more information about cycling safety, check out:

Frequently Asked Questions

Bicycle Helmets

Q1: What is the fine for not wearing a bicycle helmet?

All bicycle riders under the age of 18 need to wear an approved bicycle helmet when travelling on any public road. The total fine is $75.

Q2: How do I know which bicycle helmet to buy?

Look for a helmet that fits comfortably and meets safety standards. Check the inside of the helmet for stickers from one or more of the following organizations:

  • Canadian Standard Association: CAN/CSA D113.2-M89
  • Snell Memorial Foundation: Snell B90, Snell B95, Snell B90S, or Snell N94
  • American National Standard Institute: ANSI Z90.4-1984
  • American Society For Testing and Materials: ASTMF1447-94
  • British Standards Institute: BS6863:1989
  • Standards Association of Australia: AS2063.2-1990
  • United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) 16 CFR Part 1203

New Cycling Changes

Q1: What are the new cycling changes following the passing of Bill 31- Transportation Statute Law Amendment Act (Making Ontario’s Roads Safer), 2015

Effective September 1, 2015

  • All drivers of motor vehicles are required to maintain a minimum distance of one metre, where practical, when passing cyclists on highways;
  • Persons who improperly open or leave opened the doors of motor vehicles on highways face increased penalties (commonly known as “dooring”).
  • The fine for non-compliance with bicycle light, reflector and reflective requirements will increase; and
  • Cyclists are permitted to use lamps that produce intermittent flashes of red light.

New One-Metre Passing Law

Q1: What is the penalty to drivers for not leaving a minimum of one-metre distance when passing a cyclist?

The penalty for not leaving a minimum one-metre passing distance is a set fine of $85.00 plus a $5 court fee plus a $20 victim surcharge fine for a total payable of $110.00. 

Drivers who contest their ticket by going to court may face a fine of up to $500 if found guilty (fine range is $60 to $500). Upon conviction, two demerit points will also be assigned against the individual’s driver record.

Q2: Will cyclists also be required to leave a minimum one-metre distance when passing a vehicle?

Cyclists are not required to leave a specific one-metre space; however, they are required to obey all the rules of the road.   Cyclists who are being overtaken should turn out to the right to allow the vehicle to pass.

Q3: What if there isn’t enough room to allow for a one-metre passing distance?  Can a vehicle cross the centre median line to pass the cyclist?

A motorist may, if done safely, and in compliance with the rules of the road, cross the centre line of a roadway in order to pass a cyclist. If this cannot be done, he or she must wait behind the cyclist until it is safe to pass.


Dooring

Q1. What are the new increased penalties for “dooring” offenses?

The new penalties for improper opening of a vehicle door (for driver or passenger) are a set fine of $300.00 upon conviction and 3 demerit points. The total payable fine is $365.00 ($set fine plus $60 victim fine surcharge and $5 court costs).

The current HTA set fine for “dooring” offence is $85.00 upon conviction and the total payable fine is $110 ($set fine plus $20 victim fine surcharge and $5 court fees). Additionally a conviction results in 2 demerit points being added to the individual’s driver record.

Q2. Does the “dooring” law only apply to cyclists?

Although cyclists may be the most commonly perceived road user affected by this behaviour, the “dooring” law applies to all road users and is not specific to cyclists.

The government is committed to helping ensure the safety of not only cyclists but all road users.


Increasing the Fine for Cyclists for Non-Compliance with Light, Reflector and Reflective Material Requirements

Q1. Why is the government increasing the fines for cyclists with improper light, reflector and reflective tape?

Currently, the fine for non-compliance with bicycle light, reflector and reflective requirements, carries a maximum fine of $20 which is less than the majority of set fines for motorists and cyclists.

Increasing this fine will put this violation in line with all other cycling violations.


Allowing Cyclists to use Intermittent Flashing Red Lights

Q1. Why is the government allowing cyclists to use a red flashing light? Won’t this be distracting to other road users?

Red flashing lights were previously not allowed under the Highway Traffic Act even though the majority of cyclists were already using rear lamps that produce intermittent flashes of red light to make themselves more visible to others.

Considering the safety benefits from the use of these lights, and to prevent cyclists from potentially being charged, the Highway Traffic Act was amended to allow bicycles to use lamps that produce intermittent flashes of red lights.

 A motorist may, if done safely, and in compliance with the rules of the road, cross the centre line of a roadway in order to pass a cyclist. If this cannot be done, he or she must wait behind the cyclist until it is safe to pass. 


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