How to Stay Safe and Avoid Cycling Accidents

a bicycle lane on a city street

Many of us learned to ride a bicycle at an early age and continue to ride as the years go by. It is a great form of exercise and one of the fastest-growing transportation modes in Toronto, according to the city’s website.

The City of Toronto has pledged to grow, expand and enhance the cycling network and provide a safe and dedicated space for cyclists with the aim of protecting vulnerable road users.

However, while a bike provides a fun and economical way to get around, cycling can at the same time be dangerous. According to Statistics Canada, 890 cyclists died in Canada between 2006 and 2017, an average of 74 deaths per year. Collisions with a vehicle resulted in 73 per cent of those fatalities. As well, it is estimated that 7,500 cyclists are seriously injured each year and as many as 70,000 others are treated in hospital emergency rooms for cycling-related injuries.

If you have been hurt while cycling, let our dedicated team of personal injury lawyers work with you to get the right compensation and support for the physical, emotional, and mental trauma caused by someone else’s negligence.

The Cycling Boom.

Bicycle sales shot up during the COVID-19 pandemic due to heightened anxiety over public transportation.

Many Canadian cities set up temporary bike lanes in response to commuters’ fears of becoming infected by the coronavirus while on buses, trains or in rideshares. In Toronto, the city approved 25 kilometres of temporary lanes with advocates calling for them to be made permanent and expanded. A StatsCan survey at the time reported that more people biked or walked to work than used public transit.

The switch to bicycles was seen as beneficial from a public health perspective, since physical activity can improve physical and mental health, thereby preventing a host of chronic diseases while reducing the burden on our health-care system.

Cycling is also touted as a good way to lower your carbon footprint, noise pollution and traffic congestion.

Distracted Driving on the Rise.

However, with more people now working remotely, there has been a return to pre-pandemic traffic levels with our emergence from the shadow of COVID-19. Worse, roads have become deadlier, according to some reports.

Insurance Business states there has been a rise in distracted driving, collisions and fatalities since the pandemic. Technology use, and driving while stressed or while sleep-deprived, has become more commonplace, it reports.

“Post pandemic driving habits are getting more dangerous,” Joan Woodward, the president of insurance provider Travelers Institute, told Insurance Business. “People are navigating their cars as if the streets were barren during lockdown, proving that unsafe driving habits are a hard cycle to break.”

A Travelers Canada survey found an increase in accidents because of inattention “with 30 per cent of drivers saying they have been involved in an accident due to their own distractions – a 50 per cent increase from 2022.”

Do Your Part to Stay Safe.

While more dedicated bicycle lanes and paths are being added to cities across the country, there are still many roads that cyclists must share with drivers. That is why riders and motorists have a role to play to prevent injuries and avoid both motor vehicle accidents and bicycle accidents.

StatsCan reports that most cyclist deaths occur between 4 and 8 p.m., during rush hour and as it gets dark. As well, safety rules may not have been respected in about one in three fatalities.

Parachute, Canada's national charity dedicated to injury prevention, advises motorists to slow down and be especially cautious in areas such as school zones. Give cyclists space and check for riders before opening the vehicle door.

Cyclists should pre-plan their route, stay on the right side of the road, and ride single file. Make sure your bicycle is adjusted for your height, and do a quick check before setting off to ensure the tires are inflated and the brakes work properly.

Obey the rules of the road and use appropriate hand signals. Remain alert and do what you can to make sure drivers can see you when it is dark by wearing bright or reflective clothing.

According to the Ontario government, 63 per cent of cyclists in this province who died in a cycling collision between 2010 and 2014 were not wearing a helmet. An approved helmet that fits properly greatly reduces the risk of permanent injury or death in a fall or collision.

The Ministry of Transportation mandates that the following bicycle equipment is required by law:

  • a white front light and red rear light or reflector (must be in use half an hour before sunset or half an hour after sunrise);
  • a bell or horn; and
  • white reflective tape on front forks and red reflective tape on rear forks.

Failing to have the right equipment can lead to a fine under the Highway Traffic Act.

How Can a Personal Injury Lawyer Help?

An accident can happen in the blink of an eye. Even an experienced cyclist who obeys the rules of the road can suffer a devastating injury due to the condition of the road or the negligence of a vehicle driver.

If you are hurt in a collision or a fall, you may not be able to work, leaving you unable to pay for your medical treatment and everyday bills. It is important to note that in Ontario you have only two years to file a lawsuit for a personal injury claim, so you need to act promptly.

Gluckstein Lawyers has more than 55 years of experience helping personal injury accident victims, and we have earned our place as a Top 10 ranked personal injury law firm in Canada. We have offices in Toronto, Ottawa, Niagara and Barrie to serve clients across Ontario. Contact our nearest office to set up a meeting. Your initial consultation is free and without obligation on your part. Our bicycle accident lawyers will only charge legal fees once your claim is settled.


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