The Capital City’s Commitment to Cyclist Safety

In the warmer months, Ottawa comes alive with residents hoping to capitalize on the nice weather. With so many cyclists taking advantage of the city's numerous paths and trails, a safety awareness program was implemented to help keep everyone safe.

Ottawa Sets Its Sights on Cyclist Safety

The number of bicycle riders in Ottawa increases every year as more residents discover the benefits of cycling to school, work, and for pleasure. In an effort to protect cyclists and prevent accidents, the city has introduced a Cycling Safety Awareness Program. By promoting key messages concerning safe cycling practices, the hope is that the program will serve as a complement to the city's cycling infrastructure and help reduce accidents and injuries.

Common Safety Concerns for Ottawa Cyclists

There are several things that city cyclists need to be aware of. Navigating urban thoroughfares and sharing the road with cars and trucks requires a heightened sense of awareness and increased vigilance.

  • Dooring- an accident involving a collision between a cyclist and a car door is a unique danger. When a bicycle is moving quickly and a driver does not check before opening their car door, the consequences can be catastrophic.
  • Not sharing the road- not all of Ottawa's streets have designated bicycle lanes. Cyclists and drivers must share the road and exercise caution when doing so.
  • Inclement weather- a summer storm can cause roads to become slippery and reduce visibility. Cyclists need to be prepared with adequate lighting and safety equipment.
  • Hazardous roads- Potholes, debris, and other obstacles may cause accidents that could result in injury. What is inconsequential to the driver of a car or other large vehicle could have serious implications for a cyclist.

The Legal Side of Cycling

Bicyclists are held accountable to the legal guidelines outlined in the Highway Traffic Act. Anyone operating a bicycle has the responsibility to familiarize themselves with the law in order to avoid penalties and/or serious injury.

According to the act, all bicycles must have a bell, a working braking system, and reflective tape on the front and rear forks. For cyclists who ride around sunrise or sunset, a red rear light and white front light are also mandatory.

Anyone under the age of 18 is legally required to wear a bicycle helmet that meets CSA or CPSC certification requirements. While adults over the age of 18 are not obligated to wear a helmet, doing so significantly reduces the chances of sustaining serious injury in a collision or accident.

In Ottawa, cyclists are not permitted to ride on sidewalks unless there is official authorization. Should a police officer stop a cyclist for violating a part of the Highway Safety Act or a municipal by-law, the rider must provide identification.

Professional Help Following a Bicycle Accident

Regardless of how careful a cyclist may be, there exist certain dangers that cannot be avoided. A bicycle accident can cause serious consequences ranging from minor cuts and bruises to serious fractures and traumatic brain injury. A cycling accident can also result in chronic pain as well as psychological injuries such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Getting the right help following a bicycle accident is critical. In many cases, a comprehensive investigation must be undertaken so as to determine fault and cause. A skilled personal injury lawyer should have the resources available to help victims access professional support and expert third-party opinions. When it comes to getting the compensation and benefits a cycling accident victim needs, doctors, physiotherapists, and reconstruction specialists may be required to provide evidence and expert opinion.

Abstract

In the summer months especially, cycling safety is a key concern. The City of Ottawa has implemented a program to promote bicycle safety and help protect residents from the devastating consequences of cycling accidents.