Hardcore commuting cyclists don’t put the bike into storage during the winter, but for the rest of you who are looking forward to the spring weather and beautiful riding conditions, we have some crucial safety tips for you!
With both rental and ownership costs on the rise in downtown Toronto and across the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), having a car has become less favourable/affordable. If you live downtown, the cost of a parking spot alone is enough to deter you from owning a car. For the young tenants and new homeowners living in condos, paying the rent and mortgage come first; car insurance, gas, and car payments are unnecessary when living in the city. Plus, it’s way better for your health and quicker to get around on bike during rush hour.
Now that spring is nearly here, we invite you to review some safety tips for cyclists getting around the city:
1) Make sure you stand out
It’s actually against the law to ride your bike at night without front and back lights. The front light should be white and the back should be red. To improve your noticeability, you can wear reflective straps or clothing.
2) Learn the hand signals
You know how you get mad when motorists don’t signal? They and other cyclists feel the same way when you don’t signal. Putting your left arm horizontal means you’re turning left. Raising your left hand in an L-shape means you’re turning right. And doing the opposite (an upside down L) means you’re stopping.
3) Safety first!
It’s not against the law to not wear a helmet, but why would you not? Even the smallest fall or collision can result in serious head injury. Always wear a helmet, even if it messes up your hair. It is however against the law to not have a bell on your bike. The bell is like a car horn; you use it to make pedestrians and motorists aware of your presence. Don’t use it to make people get out of your way, it’s more of a courtesy tool. Oh, and stay off your phone while riding (we shouldn’t even have to include this one).
4) Cars are NOT the enemy
Toronto seems to have a cars vs. bikes mentality, and it makes no sense. While some cyclists hate drivers in the city, a bunch of drivers hate cyclists. Just remember that you are less noticeable on your bike and you have to share the road with cars, just like how they share the road with you. A safe journey requires cooperation and awareness from everyone. In most cases, it’s safe to assume that the driver didn’t mean to cut you off or put you in danger. Be mindful and prepared for anything!
5) Obey the rules of the road
It’s simple - if you’re using the road, obey the rules. It’s pointless to say “not all drivers obey the rules” and for drivers to say the same about cyclists. Rule breakers make the road dangerous, it doesn’t matter what you’re using as a vehicle. Stop at stop signs and red lights, always signal, use the lanes appropriately, and stay off the sidewalks.
6) Be prepared
You know how cars have spare tires and emergency roadside equipment? You need the same thing! You can pick up compact kits from any bike store in Toronto. A few essentials include a spare tube, a compact air pump, tube patches, hex wrenches of various sizes, and your wheels usually have 15mm nuts.
If you’re planning on biking more this spring, stay safe out there! If you’re new to cycling in the city, we hope these tips make you a bit more confident and prepared for the busy roads.