Summer weather means bike safety top of mind for OPP

(SIOUX LOOKOUT, ON) – Cycling is an excellent way to get around and a healthy recreational activity, but there are some rules of the road and safety considerations that cyclists, and motorists, need to know when sharing the road. Members of the Sioux Lookout Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) have been contacted to share some safety tips related to the re-appearance of two- wheeled, human-powered vehicles in our communities.

Q: Are there restrictions on where cyclists can ride?

A: Bicycles can be used on any roadway in our area, but cyclists must abide by all applicable traffic laws and some additional bike-specific regulations. Cyclists are encouraged to use marked cycling lanes when available, and stay ‘tight and to the right’, when riding on a roadway, so as not to impede faster moving traffic.

Bicycles can also be ridden on Umfreville Trail, and other multi-use trails with in the Municipality of Sioux Lookout, but should not be ridden on sidewalks. 

Q: What rules should bike riders be aware of, especially while sharing a road with other motorists and pedestrians?

A: According to the Ontario Highway Traffic Act (HTA), a bicycle is a vehicle, and falls under the rules of the road that are outlined in the Act. Proper lane usage, signaling for lane changes / turns and ensuring movements can be done in safety, and obeying posted signage – including coming to a complete stop at stop signs, are all required from cyclists riding on the road. Cyclists must also yield to pedestrians and other road users when they do not have the right of way, and stop for school buses with red lights flashing (HTA Section 175(12)). Cyclists who ride without reasonable consideration for other road users may be charged with careless driving, HTA Section 130(1).

As well as the basic rules of the road, there are some specific requirements for cyclists. Cyclists are required to walk their bicycle across a roadway if using a marked crosswalk (HTA Section 144(29)). There is no certification needed to ride a bicycle and cyclists are not required to carry identification, but if a police officer requires a cyclist to stop and identify, that cyclist must stop to speak with the officer and provide their correct name and address (HTA Section 218). 

Q: What is the law around the use of helmets? Are there any other required equipment for cyclists?

A: Bicycle helmets are a requirement for any cyclist under 18 years of age, and must be certified, free from damage, and worn with the chin strap securely fastened in place (HTA Section 104(2.1); HTA Regulation 610). When a cyclist is under 16 years old, their parent/guardian is responsible for ensuring they are properly wearing a helmet while riding (HTA Section 104(2.2)).

Bicycles are required to have at least one working brake on the rear wheel (HTA Section 64(3)), and a working horn or bell (HTA Section 75(5)). Bicycles ridden in reduced-visibility conditions, including half an hour before sunset through half an hour after sunrise, additionally need to be equipped with a rear red light / reflector and a front white light, with matching reflective tape on the forks (HTA Section 62(17)). 

Q: What may be the rules around taking a passenger on a bike?

A: Unless the bicycle is specifically designed and set up for a second person, you cannot carry a passenger on a bicycle (HTA Section 178 (1)). Similarly, cyclists are not to attach themselves to other vehicles while riding (HTA Section 160).

Q: What rules should motorists be aware of while sharing a road with cyclists?

A: Cyclists have a right to use the roadway, and are bound to the same rules of the road as motor vehicles. Just as cyclists are required to keep right to allow other vehicles to pass, motorists are required to turn out to the left to avoid collision with a bicycle (HTA Section 148(6)). When passing a bicycle, motorists must leave one meter of space from the extreme right side of their vehicle and the extreme left side of the bicycle, including any projections and attachment (HTA 148(6.1)). If they cannot safely pass a bicycle, vehicles must remain behind the cyclist until they have a safe passing opportunity.

Q: What should motorists be aware of while driving through residential and school areas?

A: Because there are no regulations for who can ride a bicycle, motorists need to be aware that they can expect cyclists of all different ages and skill-sets on the road. Motorists should take extra care when driving near cyclists, especially through residential areas and school zones, where children may be learning to ride.

 Sioux Lookout OPP are proud to be hosting the Positive Ticketing Campaign, in partnership with Fresh market Foods. This year’s campaign is designed to promote safe cycling skills and helmet use. Thanks to WJS Canada – the Sioux Lookout Attendance Centre, the Sioux Lookout OPP will be donating helmets to youth in the community and surrounding areas. If you know of a youth in need of a certified, properly fitted helmet, please refer them to PC Lee, at the Sioux Lookout OPP detachment: 807-737-2020.

For more information about cycling skills and safe bicycle operation, please visit the OPP website at www.opp.ca, as well as the Government of Ontario Ministry of Transportation cycling resources available online at www.mto.gov.on.ca.

If you have any additional questions or concerns that you would like to be addressed by a police officer, the Sioux Bulletin will be hosting an ongoing column titled “Ask an Officer”. The public is invited to submit their questions to the Sioux Bulletin and the Sioux Lookout OPP may provide answers in this secure forum.

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