Cycling and the law

Under Ontario’s Highway Traffic Act (HTA), a bicycle is considered a vehicle, just like a car or truck.

As a cyclist, you:

  • must obey all traffic laws
  • have the same rights and responsibilities as drivers
  • cannot carry passengers if your bicycle is only meant for one person

Bicycle Traffic Signals

Cyclists must obey bicycle traffic signals where they are installed and regular traffic signals otherwise. If both bicycle traffic signal and regular traffic signal apply to the same lane, cyclists must obey the bicycle signal.

One-metre Passing Law

When passing a cyclist, drivers must maintain a minimum distance of one metre between their vehicle and the cyclist, where it is practical to do so. Cyclists are not required to leave a one-metre space, however, must still obey all the rules of the road. If you are being overtaken by a driver when riding, turn out to the right to allow the vehicle to pass.

Ways Cyclists Can Improve Safety

Bicycles have the same rights and responsibilities on public roadways as motorists. Cyclists fare best when they act and are treated as drivers of vehicles. When you as a cyclist fail to obey the rules of the road, you lose the support of motorists. Do your part by being a good ambassador for cycling.

Ways Motorists Can Improve Cyclist Safety

Cyclists are more vulnerable road users than motorists. They are smaller, quieter and have no “crumple zone”. A small mistake by a motorist can result in serious injury or death to a cyclist. Motorists must respect the rights of other road users, including cyclists.

Pass with Care:

  • Respect cyclists as legal road users with the same rules and responsibilities as motorists and drive courteously and with tolerance
  • Treat cyclists as you would any slow moving vehicle and pass only when the road ahead is clear
  • Slow down when passing, especially if the road is narrow
  • Give at least one metre of space between you and a cyclist when passing
  • Check over your shoulder before moving back into your travel lane to make sure you have left enough space