Communications and Media Program Co-ordinator Canadian Safety Council
Bicycling is a great mode of transportation. Not only is it part of a healthy lifestyle, but cycling also contributes to a greener environment.
However, as a cyclist, you are considered a vulnerable road user, and you must be aware of your surroundings at all times. It is very important to be visible and predictable to others. Bicyclists have a greater risk of potential injury or death should they become involved in a collision. According to Transport Canada, in 2009 there were 41 bicyclist fatalities, and 435 serious injuries.
In addition to being visible and predictable, Canada Safety Council recommends for all cyclists to wear an approved helmet. Bicycle helmets can prevent up to 88 per cent of brain injuries when used properly.
“You wouldn’t think twice about wearing your seat-belt, so why would you think twice about wearing your helmet?” says Raynald Marchand, General Manager of Programs at Canada Safety Council. A helmet can save your life, so wear one.
Ways bicyclists can improve their safety are by wearing a helmet, pay attention to your riding and avoid distractions from cell phones and music players. Follow the law — it’s the safest way to ride. Bicyclists have the same rights and duties as other drivers and need to follow the same traffic laws. Be predictable, ride in a straight line, don’t swerve over sewers or bumps in the road, this will increase your chances of a collision with a vehicle. Signal all turns and check behind you before turning or changing lanes. Come to a complete stop at every stop sign and red light, ride with caution around parked cars and position yourself in the field of vision of a motorist pulling out of a parking space and be conspicuous — ride where drivers can see you, use lights at night and wear bright clothing. Be aware while anticipating the next move of drivers, pedestrians and other cyclists.
If you are a beginner or are returning to bicycling, seek out clubs or bicycling advocacy organizations in your community for tips on safe riding, instruction, and group rides to improve knowledge and confidence.
Tires need air, brakes must work, chains should run smoothly, and quick release wheel levers must be closed. Don’t forget to carry identification and cell phone, emergency cash, as well as repair and emergency supplies.