For some of us, riding a bicycle is a fun and relaxing way of getting exercise. For many others, it is an important or even the primary mode of travel that helps them get from one location to the next. For many Canadians in major cities like Toronto, riding a bicycle can be an overwhelming experience. Heavy traffic and safety concerns can limit the areas they feel safe riding their bikes, while uncertainty around riding rules and regulations can further reduce their comfort around cycling.
Bicycle accidents are a concern in the City of Toronto. There were more than 1000 bicycle accidents reported to Toronto Police in 2008, but the number of actual accidents was much higher. Studies have shown that the majority of bicycle accidents occur at intersections including driveways and lane entrances, and most of these involve motor vehicles turning. In terms of accidents away from intersections, collisions most frequently involve motor vehicles overtaking cyclists or opening their doors in the paths of oncoming cyclists. Staying aware of both moving and parked traffic on the street is one important way cyclists can reduce their risk of being involved in such a collision. In addition, avoiding travel during rush hour can help reduce your risk for a bicycle accident. Data from the City of Toronto shows that the majority of collisions all happened during rush hours, especially the evening peak, from approximately 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.
For most parents, promoting safe riding habits for their little ones is a major concern. While cycling is a relatively safe activity, wearing an approved bicycle helmet reduces the risk of injury and death while riding. Under the law, cyclists under 18 are required to wear an approved bicycle helmet when riding their bike on a sidewalk or road in Ontario. In addition, many communities have passed by-laws requiring cyclists under 18 to wear helmets wherever they are riding their bikes. Parents can be fined if they knowingly allow their children under 16 to ride without a bicycle helmet, while cyclists who are 16 or 17 can be fined directly. For adults, riding with an approved helmet sends the right signal to younger cyclists, as well as offering valuable protection.
If involved in a bicycle accident, seeking immediate medical attention should be your first priority. Even if any injuries sustained seem superficial, having the accident as well as your injuries documented in a hospital report are important. In addition, seeking the advice of a personal injury lawyer can provide you with information about the options available to you in terms of compensation and treatment, as well as how best to handle other aspects of your recovery.