When it comes to cycling in Ottawa, collisions, and accidents in the capital have been a commonly discussed topic; especially in the wake of several fatalities in recent years. Indeed, there are roughly 300 reported collisions every year.
With this in mind, it is critical that both drivers and cyclists practice cycling safety when out on the road. While in certain circumstances you cannot avoid an accident completely, you can take steps to drastically reduce the possibility of one happening in the first place.
Preventing Cycling Accidents Ottawa: Cyclists
Take a Bike Safety Course
A bike safety course will cover everything you need to know regarding bike safety and how to prevent a cycling accident.
This is especially critical for more serious bikers (such as those who bike to work on a daily basis) who have to navigate sharing a road with buses, trucks, and pedestrians every day.
Drivers do not always anticipate a cyclist, so it’s important to drive defensively.
Obey Traffic Lights and Stop Signs – And Signal
Just as you would obey traffic lights and stop signs when driving a motorized vehicle, it’s equally important to follow the same practices when cycling. Similarly, if you plan to make a turn, it’s important to signal your intention to do so.
Ride in a Straight Line
Avoid moving in and out of moving/parked traffic and ride in a straight line instead.
While cyclists generally drive in the right-most lane, note that you should avoid being in the right lane if you are going through an intersection and you are not turning right.
Make Use of Lights and Bells
Lights and bells can increase your visibility – this is especially critical if your riding after dark. Ensure that you are using a headlight, a tail light, reflectors and retro-reflective clothing to make yourself as visible as possible.
Preventing Cycling Accidents Ottawa: Drivers
Be Mindful of Cyclists
First and foremost, it’s important to recognize that under the Highway Traffic Act, bicycles are considered vehicles, so treat them as such.
That means that they do not have to use bike lanes – they can cycle on all roads in Ottawa with the exception of the Transitway, Highways 416/417 and Regional Road 174.
They are also entitled to ride in the centre of a lane if they feel their safety is in question.
Pass Bicycles At a Safe Distance
According to the Highway Traffic Act, drivers are required to leave a safe distance between both parties whenever you are passing a bicycle. Keep in mind that you should allow more space when the roads are slippery. You should also slow when passing.