Tips for Cycling in Toronto

Last spring and summer, a spate of pedestrian and cyclist fatalities put the City of Toronto in the crosshairs of media from around the world. Three of the city’s four cycling deaths occurred in May and June, leading BBC News to ask: “How dangerous are Toronto streets for the city’s cyclists?”

As any Toronto bicycle accident lawyer can attest, cycling in Canada’s largest city can be risky. One seasoned Toronto cyclist went so far as to call it the most dangerous cycling cities on earth: “If you have to – for any length of time – cycle on any of the major arteries in Toronto, it’s more dangerous than anywhere else in the world,” 66-year-old Harry Gold, who has cycled in over 80 countries, told the BBC.

So, how is Toronto addressing the issue? In 2016, the city launched Vision Zero, an ambitious project aiming to eliminate traffic deaths within five years. Today, this goal appears depressingly out of reach; three years in, Vision Zero Toronto has not meaningfully reduced fatalities or serious injuries.

And yet, despite the grim realities that exist on Toronto’s streets, many residents consider cycling to be an enjoyable and efficient means of navigating the city. On warm, sunny mornings, throngs of cyclists collect at downtown intersections and long columns snake along the city’s bike routes. Cycling is often quicker than driving through the city’s congested core, and it’s an opportunity to exercise and enjoy the region’s all-too-brief summer.

If you’re committed to riding your bike in Toronto this spring and summer, here are a few safety tips to keep in mind.

Be Cautious and Vigilant

As any Toronto bicycle accident lawyer will remind you, as a cyclist, you are the smallest and most vulnerable vehicle operator on the road. Cyclists must be constantly aware of the vehicles that surround them: keep your eyes on the road ahead; shoulder check often; and don’t forget about parked cars – occupants sometimes open doors into bike lanes without checking.

It also helps to be predictable in your riding. Stick to a straight, steady line and maintain a consistent speed. Always use signals before turning. These actions will help drivers anticipate your movements.

If you’re not comfortable riding on busy streets or streets without bike lanes, it may be best to avoid cycling for the time being. Practice in quiet areas until you gain confidence.

Suit Up!

The clothing and equipment you wear while riding in the city can have a huge impact on your safety. For instance, wearing slim clothing that won’t catch in your wheels or chain can help prevent accidents. Bright, reflective clothing is also beneficial, particularly at night or in dark, rainy weather.

Other important equipment includes a safety agency-approved helmet (which is mandatory for cyclists under the age of 18) and bicycle lights, which riders must use between a half-hour before sunset and a half-hour after sunrise.

Always perform a basic inspection of your bike before taking it out in the spring. If repairs need to be made, bring it into a local bike shop – you can find one on any major street in Toronto.

Contact a personal injury lawyer

If you or someone you know has been injured in a cycling accident, contact Will Davidson LLP to arrange a consultation with an experienced Toronto bicycle accident lawyer. Our team can offer guidance and advice as you embark on your road to recovery.

Image credit: Takver/Fickr

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