Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Traffic Safety Pop Quiz - The recap

Thanks to everyone who took part in the #TrafficSafety Pop Quiz today.  I hope that people were able to take away some value from it and that it encourages more cooperative road use between cyclists and motor vehicles.

I know there is a lot more information that could be covered, and over time it will be.  In the meantime, for anyone who wants to brush up on their knowledge or clarify anything, I have included some good resource links at the bottom of this post.

Here is a re-cap of the quiz:
Q1) What is the maximum tire size which allows a bicycle to be ridden on a sidewalk in Toronto.
A1) 61cm or 24 inches
Big problem with this is the intent of the law is to allow for younger/smaller children to learn to ride in a safe environment while they become accustomed to traffic laws and traffic safety.  It isn't to allow adults the opportunity to free wheel where pedestrians require a safety zone.  Even a child is taught to give way to the pedestrians, let them know you are coming and ride only as fast as you can safely manoeuvre.

Q2) Can a cyclist be charged with impaired driving?
A2) No.
The Criminal Code specifies a motor vehicle in the operation.  But, you can be charged/arrested for intoxicated in a public place, careless driving and any other offences that may be committed as a result of the impairment.

Q3) Can a cyclist be charged with operating an unsafe vehicle?
A3) Yes. 
All vehicles operated must meet safety requirements.  Those include brakes, steering, lighting, horn, general maintenance, frame integrity, tires and over-all road worthiness.

Q4) What is the responsibility of a driver when passing a bicycle?
A4) HTA 148(5) Every person in charge of a vehicle on a highway who is overtaking another vehicle shall turn out to the left so far as may be necessary to avoid a collision with the vehicle overtaken, and the person overtaken is not required to leave more than one-half of the roadway free. R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 148 (5).
Bicycles overtaken
148(6) Every person on a bicycle or motor assisted bicycle who is overtaken by a vehicle travelling at a greater speed shall turn out to the right and allow the vehicle to pass and the vehicle overtaking shall turn out to the left so far as may be necessary to avoid a collision. R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 148 (6).

Q5) How far out from the edge of the roadway should a cyclist ride?
A5) Only as much as is practicable.
This may mean that from time to time a cyclist will travel in such a position that they prevent vehicles from over taking them.  This is lawful and often safer for the cyclist. (Passing parked cars, avoiding road debris, potholes, sewer grates, etc.) Drivers may pass a cyclist riding in this position ONLY if it is safe to do so AND they allow enough room to pass the cyclist.
Once the cyclist is able, they must then return to riding as close as practical to the edge of the roadway.

Q6) Could a bicycle helmet save your life in a collision or fall?
A6) Yes.
Last year Traffic Services attended a collision where a cyclist fell while riding in the path of a car.  The right side tires of the car ran over the cyclists head, which was in a helmet.  The helmet was cracked...the cyclist had a headache.
Helmets are designed to reduce potential head/brain injuries. There is no guarantee that by wearing one all injuries will be prevented, but there is a guarantee that by not wearing one you dramatically increase the potential for injury.

Q7) Do you have to stop at a stop sign when there is no traffic around that would be affected?
A7) Yes
HTA 136 136. (1) Every driver or street car operator approaching a stop sign at an intersection,

(a) shall stop his or her vehicle or street car at a marked stop line or, if none, then immediately before entering the nearest crosswalk or, if none, then immediately before entering the intersection; and
(b) shall yield the right of way to traffic in the intersection or approaching the intersection on another highway so closely that to proceed would constitute an immediate hazard and, having so yielded the right of way, may proceed. R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 136 (1).
It doesn't matter if there is any other traffic around...all must stop.  This includes cyclists and drivers!

Q8) What is the safest way to make a left turn in traffic on a bicycle?
A8) Two possible answers...proper shoulder checks, signals, movement, etc and proceed like any other vehicle on the road.  Our suggestion is to dismount from the right curb, cross the street as a pedestrian and then resume riding.  This is not only safer, but often faster.

Q9) If there is room available, is it ok to pass a right turning vehicle on the right side?
We have all heard the complaints that drivers don't look before turning, so why put yourself in that position.  When you see a car that you believe will be turning right (signals, slowing, edging to the right, waiting at an intersection/driveway) you should make your movement to move to the left and pass there.  The other option is to dismount and walk across the intersection as a pedestrian.  Yes it takes a little time, but it is a lot safer.  Passing on the right also goes against the cycling argument for a space cushion to the left...when you pass on the right, you are more than likely volunteering to give away that cushion and weakening a valid argument.

Q10) Is a cyclist required to ride within a bicycle lane when it is available?
A10) No.
The cycling lane is designated for cycling only.  Not fro drivers of motor vehicles to use or stop in.  But,  if a cyclist is keeping up with the flow of traffic or travelling faster than other vehicles, it is better for them to ride within the mutual use lanes.

A11) When a collision occurs on a highway, all persons involved directly or indirectly shall remain.  Does this include cyclists?
A11) Yes
200. (1) Where an accident occurs on a highway, every person in charge of a vehicle or street car that is directly or indirectly involved in the accident shall,

(a) remain at or immediately return to the scene of the accident;
(b) render all possible assistance; and
(c) upon request, give in writing to anyone sustaining loss or injury or to any police officer or to any witness his or her name, address, driver’s licence number and jurisdiction of issuance, motor vehicle liability insurance policy insurer and policy number, name and address of the registered owner of the vehicle and the vehicle permit number. R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 200 (1); 1997, c. 12, s. 16.

Highway Traffic Act

City of Toronto Cycling Information


Ontario Cycling Association

Toronto Police Bicylce Registration


  1. Can you define "Edge of roadway", related to where a cyclist should ride?

    Is the edge of roadway: The white edge stripe at the side of the road; the stripe that separates a travel lane from a paved/unpaved shoulder; the start of a concrete/brick gutter; the actual raised curb; etc....

    This can make a significant difference in where a cyclist would be expected to ride on certain roads.

  2. Hey Vic...good question and reason.
    The edge of the roadway on streets with curbing is the beginning of the curb, or the lateral extension of the curbs at intersections.

    On rural or urban roads without curbs, consider the edge of the roadway the actual asphalt/concrete edge, not the unpaved/gravel shoulder.

    The actual definaition of the road way is curb to curb or travelled portion of the highway (road).