Canadian Cycling Laws
Across the country, cyclists must follow the same laws as drivers of motor vehicles. Helmets, lights and reflector laws vary province by province. If you are considering taking your bike across country, then you'll be riding on highways, shoulders, quiet suburban streets and alongside fast moving logging trucks. To avoid an early end to your trip we've put together some information on Canadian biking laws.
- Cross-Canada Laws:
- - Do not ride on sidewalks
- - Stay to the far right of the shoulder, if there is one
- - Follow region specific bicycle laws
- - When riding at night, bicycles must have a front white light, a red rear light, side reflectors and a red rear reflector
- - Must have a bell or horn
Following the lead of 17 US states, Ontario is pushing forward a 1 Metre Bicycle Safe Passing Law. The intention is to educate motorists and clarify how bicycles interact with other road traffic. Still though, some vehicles pass cyclists way to close. So aside from riding in the ditch, a rear-view mirror on your left handlebar or helmet will let you know how big the next passing truck is and give warning so as you don't get sucked in.
A 2012 Globe and Mail article about helmet laws in each province: Cycling helmet laws not so clear-cut on many issues
Take the Lane?
There is an ongoing debate about whether cyclists should "take the lane", meaning ride down the middle of the road rather than far to the right. This is also known as Vehicular Cycling, where cyclists act and follow the same road rules that cars do. This can be dangerous as naturally a cyclist cannot maintain the same speed as a car, and road rage sets in. On the flip side, it can force the motorist to respect the presence of the bike and not try to squeeze pass them.
Our opinion is that there is a time and place to Take the Lane approach and other places to hug the ditch. Cyclists have to respect that they are in the grey area between vehicular and pedestrian traffic. Unfortunately, not all roads come equipped with huge shoulders for our FLT bikes. On narrow streets, riding in the middle of the road makes us more visible. All it takes is one bump from a passing truck to send us flying.
Taking the lane like this gentleman is not recommended.
Transport Canada - Urban Bicycle Planning