Safety & Education

cycling_can bike_camp kid.JPG

Safety Tips

Cyclist age 14 years of age and over may not lawfully cycle on Toronto sidewalks.  If you are 14 years of age or older, you may be fined $60 for cycling on a sidewalk.  If you are cycling recklessly or negligently, the fine may be increased to $90.

Sidewalks
Cyclist age 14 years of age and over may not lawfully cycle on Toronto's sidewalks.  If you are 14 years of age or older, you may be fined $60 for cycling on a sidewalk.  If you are cycling recklessly or negligently, the fine may be increased to $90.

What to wear
Cyclists' should wear clothing that will not catch in the wheels, chain or other moving parts of the bicycle. Many cyclists wear comfortable, layered clothing that breathes yet is wind resistant.

Wear an approved helmet for safety. Choose a helmet that fits correctly and look for a CSA, Snell, ANSI, ASTM British Standard or Australian Standard sticker that shows that the helmets meet legislated standards.

According to the Highway Traffic Act 104, cyclists 17 years of age and under must wear an approved helmet or risk getting a $75 fine.

Night riding
To make cyclists visible to motorists at night, wear light-coloured clothing or reflective fabric that glows in the dark. Cyclists must use bicycle lights from a half-hour before sunset to a half-hour after sunrise. Use a white front light and a rear red light or reflector. Under the Highway Traffic Act 62, there is a $30 fine for improper bicycle lighting.

Summer riding
To protect against sun burn and melanoma, remember to wear sunscreen when riding in the summer months, even on cloudy days. Sun screen should have a SPF of 15 or higher and be waterproof.

Ride with a water bottle at all times to avoid dehydration, especially when riding in hot, humid weather. Plastic water bottles easily clip onto the frame of the bicycle. It is recommended that you drink one bottle of water every 20 minutes. To maintain a good balance, do not carry objects on the handlebars. Wear riding gloves made of leather or fabric to protect the hands and provide a good grip for brakes.

Riding in the rain
When cycling in the rain, increase stopping distance and wear flourescent clothing to make up for the decreased visibility. Do not ride through puddles, which may hide pot holes, glass or other road hazards. It is also a good idea to stay away from the center of the road where oil slicks form.

 

Ontario's bike helmet law requires all cyclists under 18 who are riding or operating a bicycle to be wearing an approved bike helmet. Parents are liable to be fined ($60 + $15 = $75) for not ensuring their children under 16 are wearing a helmet. 16 and 17 year olds can be fined directly.

 

 

The Helmet Law and Children

Ontario's bike helmet law requires all cyclists under 18 who are riding or operating a bicycle to be wearing an approved bike helmet. Parents are liable to be fined ($60 + $15 = $75) for not ensuring their children under 16 are wearing a helmet. 16 and 17 year olds can be fined directly.

Children on a bike seat or in a bike buggy need to wear an approved bike helmet.

Children's Cognitive Development and Bike Safety

Children learn to ride a bike at different ages, usually between 5 and 8. But knowing how to steer and brake is just one part of riding a bike. Assessing risk is a skill that takes a long time for children to develop.

Typically, an average eight or nine year old can concentrate on one or two things at a time. Traffic is very complex, and so is activity on a sidewalk or on a trail. There are many variables to assess.

For example, at an intersection, a child can have difficulty telling if a motorist is going to run a stop sign or stop. Judging how far away a car is, or how fast it is going are other skills that a child develops over time.

For these reasons and others, children aged nine or under, when they cycle, should be supervised by an adult. Children develop the skills necessary to judge traffic at around the age of ten or eleven. These skills come through a combination of experience and brain development. Adults need to help children understand how traffic works, and what risks are possible.

Bike Seats and Bike Buggies

Children need to wear bike helmets while in child carriers, such as bike seats or bike buggies.

Infants too young to sit in a rear bike seat should never be carried on a bicycle. Only carry children whose necks are strong enough to support a lightweight helmet (generally 12 - 16 months).

Select a seat with safety straps and a sturdy harness that cannot be released by the child. Make sure the feet are protected, usually by a molded foot well.

Choose a seat with a high back and side supports to prevent the child from swinging, and to provide protection to the neck in the event of a fall. Ensure the seat is fastened solidly and securely to the bicycle frame so it can withstand swaying.

Choose routes that reduce risk, such as bike paths and quiet, residential streets.

Tips for Riding with Children

General guidelines:

  • Be a Good Role Model: Obey the rules, wear your helmet.
  • a child learns to balance and handle a bike many years before he or she is able to develop a sound judgment about traffic, and a realistic appreciation of risk. Children 9 and under should be supervised by an adult when they cycle.
  • Practice makes permanent. If you teach your children bad habits, they will find it hard to change later. Get it right first time!

Infants

  • Young infants have little ability to protect themselves. Never carry a baby in a front chest carrier, or in a back pack. If you want to cycle with your infant, the only real option is in a car seat strapped into a bicycle trailer, but it is best to wait until your child is able to sit up alone.
  • Never cycle with an infant without an infant's bicycle helmet on. If the child is screaming too much, don't be tempted to cycle. Try again when the child is older.

Toddlers

  • The earliest most experienced cyclists start riding with their children is when the child is around 12-16 months, and can support the weight of his or her head with a helmet on.
  • The debate about whether a trailer or a rear bike seat is better depends on your riding circumstances, your ability and your preference. A trailer tends to be more stable, and allows more room for toys and snacks, but the child is further away from you and low to the ground. Trailers are not suitable in high auto traffic situations: it is hard to hear, the child is not very visible, and the fumes are blowing into his or her face. It is always best if another adult can ride behind the trailer. Bike seats mean your child is close to you, but they shift the centre of gravity higher and further back. Your bike can become quite unstable. Practice with a twenty-five pound bag of potatoes before you strap your child into the seat. A novice, or inexperienced adult cyclist should avoid adding a bike seat.
  • Whichever choice you make, remember to always strap in your children, and ensure they have a helmet on. Of course, you should have a helmet too. If you are lying unconscious on the road, you are not able to protect your child.

Young children

  • When your child first learns to ride a bike, a turn in the park or around the block is the extent of a trip. If you want to go further, try a trail-a-bike. This trailer looks like a bike with one wheel. It attaches to your seat post and your child sits on the extension, on a bike seat, holding handlebars, and pedalling (especially useful when climbing hills). This invention allows you to cycle with your children when they do not have the stamina to go long distances.
  • Be aware that sidewalks may seem safe, but have hazards, such as cars backing out of or pulling into driveways, obstacles, uneven pavement, and pedestrians.
  • Teach children the basics of the rules of the road, even when cycling on a trail: stay on the right, ride in a straight line, be courteous with other users, and communicate.

The Young Cyclist's Guide

A good resource for information on cycling for children is the "The Young Cyclist's Guide", published by the Ontario Ministry of Transportation. You can order copies through the Ministry, or view it on-line.

CAN-BIKE

CAN-BIKE offers a Kid's CAN-Bike course for Kids aged 9-13. Kids are taught to ride safely on residential streets.

Please use the Toronto Parks Online Registration System to register for any CAN-Bike courses you would like to take.  You can read about course details including riding level, equipment you will need, and skills you will learn on this webpage.

Buying a Bike Helmet

Check for Fit Before You Buy

Always take a helmet out of the box and check to see if it fits before you buy it. Ask for help from sales staff to ensure you are buying a helmet that fits. It is better if the person who will be using the helmet is there to try the helmet on.

Price

Helmets range in price from $10 to several hundred dollars. If they have an approved sticker from one of the testing agencies (CSA, ASTM, Snell, ANSI, BSI, SAA), then they will protect your head. The more expensive helmets have more advanced engineering that make them lighter, allow for better ventilation, and provide more advanced strapping systems. But all helmets will protect your head if they are worn properly.

Different Sizes

Helmets are made to fit different sized heads. There is a style for children under 5 that covers the ears, and has been approved by the Canadian Standards Association. As soon as children start riding a tricycle they should be wearing a helmet. Children over 5 and adults have three basic sizes to choose from: small, medium and large. Some manufacturers also sell extra large sizes.

Remember the Pads

The key to good fit is in the pads that come with a helmet. The different width pads allow you to customize the helmet to fit your head so that it is snug and does not wobble around.

Check the Strapping System

It is important to check the strapping systems. On many helmets the straps will slide out of position, forcing you to readjust the straps regularly. Some helmets have buckles that clip the straps into place. These need less maintenance, but are often more expensive.

Don't Buy a Used Helmet

Do not buy a helmet second-hand, from a garage sale for example. You do not know if the helmet has been used in a crash. Helmets are designed to work in one crash only and then should be replaced.

Only Bike Helmets for Cycling

Hockey helmets are not appropriate for cycling. They are not designed to absorb the kinds of impacts you receive from crashing and hitting your head. Hockey helmets are good for protecting you from pucks, sticks, and skates. Use the right gear.

2-4-1 Helmet Salute

The City of Toronto in partnership with Think First Foundation have created a simple way to fit your helmet properly - the 2-4-1 Helmet Salute.

You may also download a PDF of our wear it right poster for more detail.

2-4-1 Helmet Salute

  • Two fingers above your eyebrows to the base of the helmet. This protects your forehead in case of a fall. It also positions the helmet so if you fall to one side the sides of your head are protected.
  • Four fingers to make a "V" shape around the bottom of your ears. Keep the straps straight and taut. This will keep the helmet fixed in position as you ride, or in the worst case, fall.
  • One finger under the strap beneath your chin. Keep the chin strap taut so the helmet doesn't slide forwards or backwards on your head.

A properly fitted helmet looks cool in more ways than one. The air vents will be better angled to scoop the wind over your head as you ride!

Keep that Helmet Adjusted Right
Adjusting the straps on a helmet can be difficult. Take the time to do it right. It's worth it.

Hey Kids! Your job is to notice if the straps are not adjusted right. Ask your parents for help. Be sure to help your parents remember the 2-4-1 Helmet Salute.

Hey Parents! Check the straps on your child's helmet and on your own helmet.

First, position the helmet right on the head, so that it covers the forehead. Two fingers' width above the eyebrow is where the helmet should rest.

Make sure the side straps lay flat against the side of your head and meet just below your ear, where the buckle should be.  Make sure the chinstrap allows just one finger to slip between the strap and your chin.

If your child comes to you asking to have the helmet adjusted, take the time to do the job right. If the buckles keep slipping, you can use bits of tape to hold them in place.

 .Wearing a bike helmet reduces the risk of injury and death. Cycling is a reasonably safe activity that millions of us enjoy, but each year in Ontario a few cyclists die after a crash or a collision. Most die because of head injuries. Many more cyclists suffer permanent brain injury, often radically changing their personality and their capacity to operate in the world as before.

Why wear a bike helmet?

Even experienced cyclists sometimes fall off their bikes. It is hard to prepare for a fall and it is easy enough to hit your head on the ground. If you are wearing a helmet, you will usually get up, brush yourself off and get on with your day. If you are not wearing a helmet, you could be knocked out or worse.

Wearing a bike helmet increases your chances of surviving a fall or a crash or a collision. We all like better odds, so wear a bike helmet every time.

How a bike helmet protects your brain

Our skulls are not very thick, about the width of three stacked pennies. If a skull suffers a direct impact it can crack, and the brain floating inside the skull crashes into it, potentially causing bruising, swelling and tearing of the brain.

If you fall from your bike and your head hits the ground, it is easily travelling at 20 km/h or faster. At these speeds, your brain can receive permanent, irreversible injury.

A bike helmet works by absorbing the force of the impact and spreading it out over the whole helmet. The impact on your head and your brain is reduced.

Think about an egg. It is easy to break if you hit it at one spot. But if you hold it evenly and try to squeeze it, an egg can be very hard to break. In a similar way your bike helmet evens out the force your head feels on impact, reducing the severity of the injury to your head and your brain.

Statistics on bike-related injuries

Here are some basics:

  • About 50% of bike crashes are falls (cyclist alone)
  • About 25% of bike crashes involve a motor vehicle
  • About 25% of bike crashes are caused in other ways

These are statistics that apply to cycling on roads and paved trails. Off -road mountain biking statistics have not been kept systematically. Most mountain bikers will tell you, though, that they wouldn't head out on the trail without a bike helmet. The nature of the sport means there is a high probability of falling.

There are a number of good websites that will give you the latest results:

The Ontario Ministry of Transportation publishes an annual report on road safety called the Ontario Road Safety Annual Report. The report can be viewed on the Ministry's website.

 

Impact of the law to date

The medical journal PEDIATRICS published a comparison of bicycle-related head injury rates in provinces with or without mandatory helmet legislation in November 2002: "Impact of Mandatory Helmet Legislation on Bicycle-Related Head Injuries in Children: A Population-Based Study".

The study, led by Dr. Brian Rowe, of bicycle-related deaths in Ontario between 1986 and 1991 drew a very clear picture of the way cyclists were being killed in Ontario, and provided a useful foundation for the development of cycling safety policy. The abstract is available on-line at the Canadian Medical Association website.

Effect of legislation on the use of bicycle helmets, March 2002, Canadian Medical Association Journal, looks at the effects of bike helmet use before and after legislation, and the resulting reported injury rates. It can be viewed at the Canadian Medical Association website. The Ontario Coroner's Review of Cycling Safety, 1998 can be viewed through the City of Toronto's website.

How we fall

According to CAN-BIKE there are four major ways a cyclist can fall:

  • Stopping - The front wheel of the bike hitting something head on, such as a curb, or the back of a vehicle.
  • Skidding - The front and/ or the back wheels slide out from under the cyclist. Often this kind of fall can happen on a wet, oily or sandy road surface.
  • Diverting - The front wheel is diverted out from under the cyclist. This can happen in a streetcar track, or a rut.
  • Loss of balance - The cyclist falls over, usually because of going too slow.

In each case, cyclists can hit their heads on the ground suddenly with little chance to prepare. This reality suggests that the time to prepare is before the ride: put on your helmet before you ride every time.

In a majority of cases, the point of impact is the forehead area. This fact makes it important for cyclists to wear a bike helmet correctly.

The forehead must be covered by the helmet. Remember: two fingers' width is the distance between the eyebrow and the edge of the helmet.

Nature of head and brain injury

The brain is not the same as other parts of the body. It cannot heal the way a broken arm or leg can.

The brain works through thousands of tiny connections from one part to another. When the brain is smashed against the side of the skull, those connections can be ripped apart. Often they cannot be repaired. Bruising and swelling too can cause difficulty for blood and oxygen flow that can lead to very serious health consequences.

Brain Injury can result in the following outcomes:

  • Memory loss
  • Damage to ability to concentrate
  • Personality changes
  • Paralysis
  • Loss or change in sight, smell and touch
  • Impaired speech
  • Increased Anger and mood swings
  • Loss of impulse control
  • Chronic headaches and seizures
  • Loss of motor function
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Death

(This list used information from the Alberta Centre for Injury Control and Research.)

How to encourage wearing a bike helmet

A majority of cyclists wear helmets in Toronto, but many don't. Here are some simple ways for you to encourage others to wear a bike helmet.

  • Start with yourself. Be a good role model. Wear your helmet every time. Make sure it is properly adjusted.
  • Talk to your family. If you are a parent, make wearing a helmet just a part of what you do. Start your children young so they get the helmet habit early. If you are a child, let your parents know how important wearing a helmet is.
  • Encourage your friends. A bike helmet is a great present idea for the cyclist who has nearly everything.
  • Organize a school event. When the helmet law was coming in, in 1995, many schools organized helmet sales. These kinds of events are as important now as they were then.
  • Contact a Safety Organization to get more information.

Avoid Disaster & Tire Maintenance

  • Buy the proper size of spare tube. Tires come in different widths and diameters.
  • Make sure the pump matches your valve, either Presta (pointed) or Schraeder (car-type). Carry an adapter if you have a mis-match.
  • Check the recommended tire pressure for your tires - it is usually marked on the sidewalls
  • Carry a wrench for non-quick release wheels

 

Reinstalling the tube

Reinstalling the tube

  • Put just enough air in the tube so that it holds its shape
  • Take the wheel and locate the valve hole
  • Lower tire and valve into rim valve hole and align valve so it is pointing straight toward hub; a crooked valve can lead to a flat tire later

  • Tuck the tube over the rim and inside the tirewall one bead at a time, avoiding kinks, bends and twists
  • Work tire bead onto rim with hands. If tire bead will not seat using hand, use tire lever as a last resort. Use caution when using tire levers to avoid pinching inner tube.
  • Re-seat the bead, starting at the valve area and working around, using your thumbs to push the bead over the edge of the rim
  • The last bit may be very difficult; if you need to use tire levers be very careful not to pinch the tube, causing a puncture
  • Push and pull the valve to make sure it is 90° to the rim
  • Put a few strokes of air into the tube

  • Inspect the tire and squeeze the bead together all around the rim, making sure the tube is entirely between the tire beads.
  • If a part protrudes it may cause another flat later
  • Inflate tube to low end of recommended pressure and inspect bead on both sides
  • Look for small moulding line above bead; this line should run consistently above rim
  • Inflate to full pressure and check with pressure gauge; it may be necessary to press downward above the valve in order to engage the pump head
  • Re-install the locking nut, if any; tighten with fingers

 

Tools & equipment

You will need:

  • Tire levers
  • Patch kit
  • Pump
  • Wrench for non-quick release wheels
  • A good patch kit should contain:

Several patches of various shapes and sizes

Tube of rubber cement (check that the glue is still liquid - once tubes are opened they dry up quickly

Emery paper; some kits contain perforated metal

Chalk or crayon

Plastic tire levers (avoid using the metal kind, which bend, rust and can pinch the tube)

 

Tire inflation & valve types

Tire repair - Tire inflation & valve types
 

  • Proper inflation for a road bike (narrow tires) is usually 90-120 psi; check the rating on the tire sidewall
  • Proper inflation for a mountain bike (wide tires) is usually 40-70 psi (lower for off road, higher for road use); check the rating on the side wall
  • Under-inflation lets the rim touch bumps, rocks and holes and may cause a puncture
  • When inflating, the valve stem must be perpendicular to the rim; if it is not, try deflating the tire and massaging the tube inside to move it to the correct position. This will avoid a rip at the stem. Tears by the valve stem cannot be repaired.
  • Hold the pump firmly and at a right angle to the valve stem; pump with full strokes
  • Disconnect the pump by lifting straight off the valve - do not twist the valve stem as this can damage the valve and cause a tear

   Presta & Schraeder

  • Inner tubes will have either a Presta or Schraeder valve
  • The Schraeder valve has a larger diameter than the Presta and is comparable to a car tire valve. The pin inside must be depressed to release or pump air. These can be inflated at a gas station pump; to deflate you can press the pin in with your finger.
  • The Presta valve is narrow and often used on road bikes. You must unscrew the top to open the valve and screw it in to close. The end must be depressed to release air or to pump air in.
  • Many pumps come with an adapter so that it can be used for both valve types, or you can buy a separate adapter; adapters that screw on to the valve are also available

Presta valve

Shraeder valve

 

Obvious tears

  • In cases where you can identify the location of the puncture easily (i.e. the object is embedded in the tire, or you can see the tear) you likely won't have to remove the wheel.
  • Pry off the bead in the area around the puncture, pull out the section of tube containing the puncture, and use a patch.

 

Removing the wheel

These instructions are for the rear wheel but you can use them for the front wheel too - just ignore the references to the chain and derailleur.

  • Shift the chain to the smallest cog
  • If you have them, loosen the quick release on the brakes.

Some common quick release set-ups.

  • Open the quick release on the wheel hub, pull the derailleur back to make room for the cogs to clear the chain, and remove the wheel by lifting it out of the dropouts.
  • If you don't have quick release, you will need to loosen and remove both the wheel nuts.
  • Lay your bicycle on the ground with the derailleur side up, to avoid getting dirt in the free wheel and chain. Do not stand the bike on the derailleur.




Removing the tire & tube

  • Get your tire levers from your tool kit - you will need at least two
  • Fully deflate your inner tube by pressing down on the valve; this will make it easier to remove
  • Insert one lever under the tire bead, on the opposite side of the valve; some tire levers have a hook on the end that can be attached to a spoke to keep it in place
  • Insert the other lever about 5-10 cm away
  • Pry the bead up and over the rim by working the levers both at once
  • Slide one lever around the edge of the rim and pull out the tube all around, ending at the valve.
  • With your fingers, reach inside the tire and pull out the tube all around, ending at the valve
  • Carefully pull the valve stem out of the rim hole (if there is a lock nut, remove it first)

   

Inspecting the tire & tube

Tires

  • The object may still be lodged in the tire or tread
  • Inspect tire surface, both inside and outside, including sidewall
  • Run your fingers inside the tire to feel for it, being careful not to cut yourself
  • Check inside tears for bits of glass
  • If there is a large tear or hole in the tire rubber or sidewall, you may need a "boot"
  • If you find something, remove and discard it
  • The wheel rim is made with holes between the rim sidewalls for spoke nipples. A rim strip covers the holes or nipples.
  • The strip protects the inner tube from sharp edges in the base of the rim and from spoke ends and nipples that might puncture the tube.
  • Inspect the rim strip whenever changing a tire or inner tube. Look for tears and rips, and make sure the rim strip is centred over the nipple holes.

Tubes

  • Inspect the tube for holes - there may be more than one
  • Take your pump and put a few strokes of air into the tube; you can safely inflate the tube to twice its normal size
  • find the hole by listening for air hissing from the puncture; you may need to rotate the tube while holding it close to your ear
  • You may also be able to feel the air on your skin - holding the tube close to your lips is a popular method since the skin above your lip is very sensitive
  • If the hole is tiny you may want to mark it with a piece of chalk or crayon
  • If all else fails, immerse the inflated tube into water and watch for bubbles

 

Patching the tube

 

  • It is simplest to replace the tube with a new one; however, you can also patch it; if you want to replace the tube, skip to the section on reinstalling the tube
  • Take the emery cloth from your patch kit and rough up the surface of the tube around the hole; this helps the glue to adhere better
  • The tube surface under the patch must be dry and clean

  • Spread a layer of glue around the hole; the area of glue needs to be larger than the patch
  • Let the glue dry until it is tacky and has lost its gloss (usually a matter of minutes)
  • Place the patch over the hole

 

  • Many patches have a paper or foil backing on the bottom (the side that will touch the glue) and a cellophane cover on the top side

  • Peel the patch from the paper or foil backing, and leave the top cover on
  • Use your fingers to press the patch in place, centring it over the hole
  • Smooth out any air bubbles that may be trapped
  • Test the seal by putting a few strokes of air into the tube and checking the patch

  • Do not inflate too much as this can break the patch seal
  • Sometimes you will find a second puncture at this point that needs to be patched
  • The tube is now ready to be reinstalled

Reinstalling the wheel

Reinstalling the wheel

  • Position chain over smallest cog and pull the axle back into dropouts
  • Centre the rim between the chainstays and tighten the quick-release (or the nuts)
  • Close the quick-release on the callipers
  • Spin the wheel and check that the brake pads clear; if not, loosen and try again

 

Temporary boot repair

Temporary boot repair

The purpose of "boot" repair is to temporarily fix a tear in the tire rubber of sidewall. This is necessary to prevent the tube from poking through the hole once it is inflated

  • Any heavy, abrasion-resistant, not-stretch fabric is good for this (canvas or heavy denim)
  • For a makeshift roadside repair you can use cloth tape, pieces of cardboard or a large rubber patch - anything to get you home
  • Tire boot must completely overlap rip to be effective
  • Wipe clean the inside of the tire adjacent to rip
  • Use glue on both surfaces and work from the inside of the tire; attach boot to wet glue
  • Align patch so edges do not extend beyond tire bead

 

Causes of punctures

Causes of punctures 

  • "Snake bite" or rim pinch: two parallel slits, caused by under-inflated tires or an impact on the rim (usually a pothole); the tire has compressed and squeezed the tube against the rim.
  • Blowout: a large hole like a starburst; usually caused by riding over a sharp object
  • Small pierce or hole: sometimes a staple, or other small, sharp object; sometimes caused by a spoke protruding through the nipple on the inside of the rim (be careful after tightening spokes)
  • Tear at valve stem: these cannot be repaired; caused by an improperly inserted valve - make sure the valve protrudes at a 90° angle to the rim

Getting started

  • Ride to work over the weekend before you start commuting to get an idea of time and distance
  • if you're running late, enjoy the ride - don't try to race the lights (it's not safe and you'll just end up stopping for another one further along)
  • don't make yourself miserable: work your way into cycle commuting a little at a time - there's no point in slaving through rain and snow when you're just getting started, and even one day a week of cycling reduces emissions by 20 per cent!

Bicycle equipment

Bicycle equipment

  • An approved cycling helmet
  • A bicycle lock (invest in the highest quality lock you can)
  • Lights for riding in the dark, (you need these if you ride between half an hour before sunset, or half an hour after sunrise)
  • Front and rear brakes in working order
  • A bottle cage and water bottle; drink before getting thirsty to prevent dehydration (important for hot days, or long commutes)

Highway Traffic Act

The Highway Traffic Act (PDF) states that bicycles need:

  • A steady white light on the front of the bicycle and a red rear light or reflector if you ride between half an hour before sunset and half an hour after sunrise, and at any time when your bicycle is not discernible at 150 metres or less. A rear light is far more visible than a reflector, and can cost less than $10.
  • Rear brake capable of skidding the rear wheel on dry, level pavement. ( This is the minimum legal requirement, however, the front brake of a bicycle does 70-80% of the braking work. A cyclist has most braking power when using a front and back brake together.)
  • A bell, gong or horn in good working order.
  • delete: A strip of white reflective tape on the front forks and red reflective tape for the rear forks covering a surface of not less than 250 millimetres in length and 25 millimetres in width.

Helpful equipment

Helpful equipment

  • A bicycle map
  • Rain gear
  • Fenders to help keep you dry
  • Cycling gloves--even on warm days--they protect the hands if you fall
  • A flat fix kit and an extra inner tube
  • A bike rack, basket, or panniers to carry groceries, laptops, extra clothing, lunch
  • Mirrors (optional). Mirror use should never replace a shoulder check.

Sweat

Sweat

  • If you don't have showers in your building maybe you can work out a joint-use agreement with a building that does
  • wait ten minutes after you arrive, then use a wash cloth and towel to refresh yourself in the washroom before changing into business attire.

Wrinkled clothes

Wrinkled clothes

  • Stock a locker with clothes for a few days
  • hang a garment bag on the back of the office door
  • use bicycle garment bag panniers.

Personal safety

Personal safety

See:  Cyclists need to know what is going on around them.  Anticipate what will happen down the road.

Be Seen:  Cyclists are safest when other road users can see them. For example: using reflectors and front and rear lights. Choosing the correct road position will help to be part of the flow of traffic which increases visibility.

Be Predictable:  Cyclists are predictable when they ride in a straight line and when they communicate (signal) their intentions about changing position or direction. By riding in a straight line it is easier for traffic around you to predict your actions. Know how to position yourself in traffic. Ride 1 meter away from the curb, never in the gutter, and out of the way of opening doors along parked cars.

Shoulder Check:  Check behind yourself frequently, especially before changing position on the road. This ensures that you know what is happening around you.

Give the right Signals:  Make sure that other road users know what you are planning to do next. Communicate your intentions with hand signals. Don't signal without looking behind first – it may be unsafe.  By making eye contact, using your bell or voice you can negotiate your way through traffic in cooperation with other road users.

Lane position at intersections:  At traffic lights the least safe option is to overtake (on the right), so either wait your turn or consider overtaking (on the left) to get to the front before pulling in to the flow of traffic when it starts moving.

Be aware of large vehicles: Never cycle in the driver's "blind spot", they won't be able to see you if they decide to turn. Always maintain enough distance behind or in front of any large vehicle so the driver can see you. If you can't see their eyes, the driver probably can't see you.

Be on the safe side:  Cycling on the sidewalk is against the law for adults. If you are nervous about cycling on the road, get training.

There's safety in numbers :  Talk to a more experienced cyclist about safety and route planning.  Ride with a more experienced cyclist until you get the hang of things.

Take some cycling safety training:  Read some additional Toronto EMS tips on bicycle safety. The City of Toronto offers CAN-BIKE cycling  courses

Security

Security

  • Lock your bicycle (both wheels) to an immovable object which cannot be easily cut or broken
  • use a good quality lock (a hardened steel U-lock, or a hardened steel chain and padlock)
  • consider using two different types of locks; that way a thief would have to carry two kinds of tools to steal your bicycle
  • padlocks should not hang low enough to be smashed against the ground with a hammer
  • never leave accessories like lights and bags unattended with your bicycle.

Take care

Take care

Although physical activity is almost always beneficial, you should gradually build up your level of exertion. Straining yourself may be counter-productive, or even dangerous. Men over 40 years of age, women over 50 years of age, or anyone who has a high risk of cardiovascular disease, or existing health problems, should consult their physician before embarking on any exercise program to which they are unaccustomed. Also, if you are very unaccustomed to physical activity, or if you are (or think you may be) pregnant, it's better to talk to your physician first. Finally, don't start on a new exercise regime while you have a cold or other illness. Getting healthier shouldn't be a risk.
 

A tour was taken at the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) Helmet testing facilities. The tour included all sorts of fascinating facts about what a helmet has to go through before you can pick it up on a store shelf.

The CSA conducts about 1800 different types of tests in the 250,000 sq. ft facility. The test we witnessed dealt with bicycle helmets.

First, the helmets undergo a chin strap test. The test involves a 7Kg weight being preloaded on the strap and dangled about a metre below. The weight was then raised up towards the helmet by hand and dropped where it met a stopper. This test was designed to make sure the strap and buckle didn't stretch, slip or break. Additionally the helmet should not show any fatigue.

The second test included a drop test of a helmet to test 6 different impact points. The front, rear, left and right sides, top, and ventilation holes would be tested from a typical rider height plus a calculated distance (mass, gravity, velocity). The test would then be repeated for 5 different sizes of the human head from children to adults. In each test the impact force is never to exceed 2.5 G's. With children's helmets the impact force must never exceed 2.0 G's -- children's helmets have additional expanded polystyrene (EPS) to absorb the impact and adjust for the still-forming skull.

When buying a helmet for a child it is important to note that children's helmets are different than adult's helmets. Children's helmets have additional expanded polystyrene (EPS) to absorb the impact and adjust for the still-forming skull.

EPS foam does have a shelf life and that is adjusted depending on the materials (check your manufacturer for helmet details), the CSA approval exists for the creation date of the helmet. Typically helmets have a limit of 5 years or a single impact.

EPS foam also changes in its effectiveness depending on weather conditions. Your helmet best works in warm weather. Cold weather makes the foam more rigid. One of the biggest threats to your helmet is bug spray. DEET can eat away at the foam and make it structurally unsound.

CSA LogoCurrently the CSA has recognition in Canada, US, and elsewhere internationally. So the logo on the inside of your helmet carries some weight with it. Not enough to slow you down, just keep you safer.

For more information on Helmet Safety please see the CSA's Head Smart PDF brochure.