Riding a bicycle is a healthy, fun, and efficient way to get around and enjoy the outdoors. More and more people are choosing to cycle. If you find yourself on a bicycle, the following tips will improve your bicycle safety and reduce the chances of being involved in a collision.
- Be predictable – The Motor Vehicle Act, RSNS 1989, c 293 (the “MVA”) section 137 requires cyclists to follow the same rules as motorists, with a few exceptions. You must obey street signs and traffic lights as you would if you were driving a car, and ride on the street, not on the sidewalk as per section 171(2). Ride at a consistent pace in a straight line relative to street markings and use hand signals to indicate turns where it is safe to do so.
- Pretend you are invisible (but don’t be) – Assume that motorists and pedestrians do not see you, and try to ride so that your safety is not reliant on the actions of drivers. Watch the way vehicles are moving for clues as to the intention of the driver. Look motorists and pedestrians in the eyes! Make sure they notice you before taking actions that require them to yield to you, such as entering four-way-stop intersections.
- Expect the unexpected – Watch out for potential hazards as you ride, including debris on the road, potholes, pedestrians stepping out into the road suddenly, parked vehicles flinging their doors open into your path of travel, or drivers turning in front of you without warning.
- Plan ahead – Choose streets with less traffic, good visibility, wide shoulders and bike lanes where possible. Note that cyclists are required to ride in bike lanes where they exist per MVA section 171(3) unless it is impracticable to do so.
- Put a lid on it – Wear a properly fitted, CSA-approved helmet. MVA section 170A(2) makes it the law to do so, and cyclists who fail to abide are liable to a fine of $147.70, and/or seizure of their bicycle for up to 30 days per section 170(5). Bicycle helmet safety is important, if you fall off your bike and hit your head, a helmet will increase your odds for survival and decrease the likelihood of suffering a traumatic brain injury.
- Dress for success – Wear bright, reflective clothing to enhance your visibility to motorists, especially at night or in low light conditions. Choose appropriate clothing for the conditions; rain and snow does not mean you cannot bike, but your journey will be much more pleasant with proper gear. Cycling gloves are also important to protect your hands in a fall, and to prevent nerve compression injuries.
- Conduct a pre-flight inspection – Make sure your bicycle is in good working order before you ride by examining your brakes, tires, and drive train. Consider attending a bicycle maintenance class or visit a bicycle mechanic for a tune-up.
- Accessorize –Lights, reflectors, and bells are mandatory additions to your bicycle that can alert other people to your presence. In Nova Scotia, MVA section 174(6) requires a front-facing white light and a rear-facing red light or reflector on the rear of every bicycle, and section 183(5) requires bicycles to be equipped with a bell or horn. At night a bicycle safety light will help to make you more visible. A mirror is also a great idea to help you keep an eye on what’s happening behind you. Another frequently overlooked bicycle addition is a rack and pannier or “saddle bag”. Using a pannier instead of a backpack provides a lower centre of gravity and makes maneuvering your bicycle easier.
- Timing is everything – Give yourself adequate time to get to your destination. Remember that you will have to unlock and inspect your bike and put on your cycling gear at the beginning of the ride, and find a place to lock your bike and take off all your gear at the end.
- Know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em – Sometimes it is safer for everyone if a bicycle takes up the whole lane, and the MVA section 171(4)(d) allows for this. It is your duty as a user of provincial roadways to make decisions that protect yourself and others around you. On the other hand, there are other times and places where bicycling is just not a wise decision, such as the shoulder of busy, fast highways, or roads with lots of heavy truck traffic. In these areas if may be best to walk your bike along the sidewalk, or take the bus.
Despite best efforts, sometimes accidents do happen. Following the recommendations in this list will not only reduce the chances of being in a collision, they will also help to avoid a finding of contributory negligence that could otherwise reduce the compensation awarded by a court. If you or someone you know has been injured while cycling connect with David S.R. Parker today to schedule your free consultation. Connect with David at 902-460-3447 or 1-866-339-3400.
David S.R. Parker is a Partner that practices in the area of Personal Injury Law. If you have questions connect with David by phone (902) 460-3447 or email [email protected].
Halifax Bike Week takes place from June 2 – 11, 2017. For more information on Bike Week, click here.