Modes of Transportation - On a Bicycle

Safe Cycling and Obeying the Highway Safety Code

Being safe and obeying the Highway Safety Code are key for enjoying cycling.

Basic rules

  • Ride in a straight line.
  • If there is more than one lane, ride in the right lane.
  • Before changing lanes, signal your intention and change lanes only after checking to make sure that you can do so safely.
  • You may ride on the shoulder if it is paved.

Riding along parked vehicles

  • Ride in a straight line. You should stay at least one metre away from parked cars to avoid car doors that may open suddenly
  • Even if the cars are parked far apart from one another, don't zigzag. Keep riding in a straight line
  • Keep an eye on:
    • vehicle taillights: if they switch on, the vehicle could begin moving soon
    • vehicle occupants: they could open a car door at any time

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Maintain a safe distance from parked vehicles

At intersections: safety and obeying traffic rules

Before entering an intersection, you must yield to pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles that are about to enter or who are already in the intersection, or who are so close that entering the intersection would be dangerous.

At intersections with all-way stop signs

  • The first to come to a complete stop has the right of way, regardless of whether it is a cyclist, motorcyclist, motorist or heavy vehicle driver.
  • If several vehicles, including bicycles, arrive at an intersection and make a complete stop at the same time, the one on the right has the right of way.
  • If another vehicle has the right of way: the cyclist can indicate that the other vehicle has the right of way by a hand signal.
  • If the cyclist has the right of way: before entering the intersection, the cyclist can make visual contact with the driver to ensure that he or she will yield the right of way.
  • If a pedestrian enters the intersection, the cyclist must stop and let the pedestrian go by.

At intersections controlled by traffic lights

  • Watch out for light changes and get ready to stop, unless you are already in the intersection.
  • Watch out for vehicles travelling in the left lane or that are passing. They could cut you off when turning right. Be ready to avoid them.

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Be cautious at intersections

At multiple-lane intersections with a lane reserved for right turns

If you wish to continue straight ahead:

  1. Signal your intention to continue straight ahead.
  2. Go to the front of the queue, between the lane reserved for right turns and the one for vehicles continuing straight ahead.
  3. Return to the far right side of the lane after going through the intersection.

By placing yourself between both lanes, you will be able to cross the street once the light turns green, without inconveniencing the vehicles that are turning right or those going straight ahead.

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Multiple-lane intersections

Going around vehicles that are turning right

When turning right, motorists do not always check to see whether there are cyclists. Be extra cautious:

  • Maintain a safety margin of at least 1 metre with the sidewalk and vehicles.
  • If a vehicle is turning right: stay behind it or pass it on the left if you can perform the manoeuvre safely.

To go around a vehicle

 1.  Look over your left shoulder to see whether the way is clear.

 2. Signal your intention to go left. Virage à gauche

3.  Look over your left shoulder again.

4. Pass on the left when it is safe to do so safely.

Warning

Is a vehicle turning right?

Never pass a vehicle that is getting ready to turn right on the right!

Signalling for cyclists

The Safe Cycling Guide (PDF, 2.0 MB) details the signals in use on bikeways. Here are a few examples taken from the guide:

You must obey all traffic signs and signals, including all stop signs and traffic lights.

children to be accompanied by an adult

Indicates that children under 12 must be accompanied by an adult on a road where the speed limit is over 50 km/h

need to get off a bicycle

Indicates that you must get off your bicycle for safety reasons

mandatory cyclist route

Indicates a mandatory route for cyclists and pedestrians

cyclists can ride against the flow of traffic

Indicates that cyclists can ride against the flow of traffic on a one-way street

respect a pedestrian light

Indicates that cyclists must respect a pedestrian light

Caution! Where this sign is not posted, cyclists must obey traffic lights for vehicles and cannot use a pedestrian signal unless they get off their bicycle.

Traffic signals for cyclists

Traffic lights for cyclists are placed alongside bikeways

lane reserved for cyclists

 Symbol painted on the roadway to indicate that a lane is reserved for cyclists

Paved shoulders

You must ride in the same direction as other vehicles.

Bike lanes

Road signs and pavement markings indicate that these lanes are reserved for cyclists. They are often also authorized for pedestrian use.

Shared roadways


There is no corridor reserved for cyclists.

They are indicated by road signs, and a pictogram representing a bicycle is painted on the pavement.

 

Bike paths


They are generally located away from automobile traffic or separated from traffic by a physical barrier.

Courtesy and sharing the path also apply.

Check with your municipality to know what safety rules apply.

Your head is important. Wear a helmet!

Although wearing a bike helmet is not mandatory, it is essential to absorb the impact in the event of an accident. If you are wearing a helmet when you have an accident, the force of the impact is distributed over the surface of the helmet, rather than concentrated on the head. That's why it's important to have a good helmet.

In our section entitled One Head, One Helmet, you will learn how to properly adjust your helmet.

Warning

Electric bikes: helmets are mandatory

If you are riding an electric bike, the Highway Safety Code requires that you wear a bike helmet. Other obligations also apply. To find out more, see the section on electric bikes.

Riding in groups

  • Ride in a single file in groups of no more than 15 cyclists (requirement of the Highway Safety Code).
  • Maintain a safety margin of at least 1 metre between cyclists.
  • Increase the safety margin before speeding down a hill.
  • As much as possible, use cycling infrastructures, such as paved shoulders, bike lanes, shared roadways and bike paths.

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Riding in groups

No distractions while cycling!

Warning

The Highway Safety Code prohibits the following when cycling:

  • wearing earphones or headphones

Offenders face a fine of $30 to $60, plus fees.

Railway tracks can be dangerous

Tracks may be slippery when wet.

  • Cross one rail at a time.
  • When approaching railway tracks, signal your intention to slow down.
  • Go slowly and stand on your pedals to cross particularly bumpy railway tracks in order to keep your balance.
  • If the manoeuvre is too risky, get off your bike and cross the tracks on foot.

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Be cautious near railway tracks

Crossing the tracks

1. Look over your left shoulder.

2. Signal your intention to slow down.Virage à gauche

3. Look over your left shoulder again.

4. Go left.

5. Cross the tracks at a right angle.

Useful information

If a train is approaching

You should stop your bike at least 5 metres away from the railway tracks when:

  • signals, lowered barriers or a railway employee indicate that a railway vehicle is approaching
  • you see or hear a train approaching a level crossing

In the presence of a heavy vehicle

  • Make visual contact with the driver. Otherwise, assume that the driver has not seen you.
  • Avoid being a heavy vehicle's blind spot.
  • Pay attention to vehicles' turn signal lights and never pass a vehicle on the right near an intersection.
  • Never stop on the left or right side of a truck, bus or other heavy vehicle; rather, stop as far as possible in front of or behind the vehicle.
  • Be visible (bright clothing, reflective strips, etc.).
  • Do not rely on a bell, horn or your voice to warn the driver of your presence, because he or she will not hear you.
  • A passing heavy vehicle can create enough turbulence to make you lose your balance. If a heavy vehicle is approaching, stop pedaling and hold firmly onto your handlebars.

Turning heavy vehicles: encroaching on neighbouring lanes

When turning right, a heavy vehicle may have to drift to the left to have enough room to perform the manoeuvre. Always remain far ahead or behind a heavy vehicle, never next to it, because you might lose the space you need if the heavy vehicle begins turning.

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Leave enough space for heavy vehicles to turn

Blind spots

If you are in one of a heavy vehicle's blind spots, the driver cannot see you.

Seeing a driver's eyes is important

If you cannot see the driver's eyes in a rearview mirror or through a window, you should assume that the driver cannot see you.

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Heavy vehicle blind spots

Be cautious near buses!

School buses

For your safety and the safety of others, it is recommended that you stop at least 5 metres away from the rear of a school bus whose flashing lights are activated or whose stop arm is deployed.

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Stop at least 5 metres away from the rear of a bus

City buses

For your safety and the safety of others, it is recommended that you stop at least 5 metres away from the rear of a bus. Just like for other vehicles, never pass a bus on the right.