Bicycle Safety

Cycling is a fun, healthy and inexpensive way to get around, whether you cycle to and from work or school, or recreationally on the weekends. You'll enjoy it most when your bicycle handling and traffic skills are in good shape. Cyclists, like any other vehicle driver, have the same rights and duties as motorists. To increase the safety of cyclists, we educate drivers to Share the Road!

Helmet Safety Tips for Cyclists

A helmet fits correctly when...

  1. It fits snugly and does not move around.
  2. It sits two finger-widths above your eyebrows.
  3. The straps meet in a 'V' just below your ears.
  4. You can place no more than two fingers between your chin and the strap.

Keep in mind...

  1. Cyclists under 18 must, by law, wear a helmet in Ontario.
  2. Helmets do not prevent falls or crashes; they only reduce injury in a crash. A cycling safety course will help you avoid crashes.
  3. Cyclists must have an alarm, bell or horn on their bike.
  4. Bicycles should be equipped with a light if you are cycling at night, before dusk, after dawn or in bad weather.

  5. It's unsafe to wear a hat under your helmet.
  6. Replace your bicycle helmet if it has received any strong impact-even if damage isn't visible on the outside-or if it is 5 years old.
  7. Your helmet should have a CSA, CPSC, Snell B-95, or N-94 certification sticker.

Rules of the Road - Cyclists and Drivers

Bicycles are vehicles and cyclists have the same rights and duties as motorists!

Ontario Highway Traffic Act and the Ottawa Traffic and Parking Bylaw require the following:

  1. Stop at all stop signs and red lights.
  2. Signal all lane changes, turns and stops.
  3. Drive/ride on the right side of the road.Share the Road
  4. Drive/ride only in the designated direction on one-way streets.
  5. It is unsafe and illegal to ride on the sidewalk.
  6. Share the road with other users.
  7. Use lights when driving/riding at night.
  8. Have a bell or horn on your bike.
  9. Cyclists wear a helmet (required if under 18 years old), drivers wear a seatbelt. 
  10. Cyclists use proper hand signalling when turning and stopping.

Riding At Night or Early Mornings

  1. By law, when riding at night or in low visibility conditions, you need a white front light and a red rear reflector.
  2. Your bike must also have 25cm of white reflective tape on its Add relfective tape for greater visibility.front forks and 25cm of red reflective tape on the back. It's always a good idea to add extra reflectors for more visibility.
  3. Canada Safety Council suggests you also use a red rear light and wear bright clothing with reflective elements.
  4. Never assume that other drivers see you. Near sunrise and sunset, and when the road is wet, glare can make you less visible.

Riding Tips for the Road

  1. Ride predictably and defensively.
  2. Ride in a straight line at least one metre from the curb or parked cars.
  3. You may occupy any part of a lane when your safety warrants it. Never compromise your safety just for the convenience of others.
  4. Shoulder check when you turn or change lanes.
  5. Give pedestrians the right-of-way.
  6. Dress to be visible.
  7. Keep your bicycle well maintained.

Riding Tips for the Pathways

  1. Keep to the right.Two women on bikes in Ottawa.
  2. Pass other users only when safe.
  3. Keep under the courtesy limit of 20 km/h; please use the road if you want to go faster.
  4. Use your bell or voice to warn others when you pass. Shoulder-check to see if the way is clear.
  5. Pull off the pathway when stopped.
  6. Look out for volunteer Pathway Patrollers in the summer if you need assistance.

More information: