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Cycling is a fun activity when done safely. When not done safely, a cyclist can be a danger to him or herself and to others. These comments are intended to help keep you safe and to help you better understand your obligations as a cyclist.
Safety Protocols
  1. Highway Traffic Act[+]
    Bicycles are vehicles under the HTA – virtually all rules under the HTA that apply to motor vehicles also apply to bicycles.

    1 Obey all HTA traffic rules, including stopping at traffic signs, traffic lights and right of way conventions and rules.

    2 Beyond legal considerations, prudence and common sense should always prevail. A cyclist will never win a dispute with a motor vehicle regardless of who is right.

    3 as slower moving vehicles, cyclists must move as far to the right as they safely can to facilitate the space to allow a faster vehicle to pass safely (Sec. 147(6))

    4 The HTA does not explicitly prohibit side by side (two-abreast) cycling. In fact, a cyclist who is passing another cyclist should be considered as acting within the law. However, Sections 148(2) and 148(6) can reasonably be interpreted as forbidding the practice under certain circumstances.

    5 Road conditions (potholed, eroded; with debris and other obstacles) and traffic conditions (high volume or high speed traffic) may dictate single file is best.

    6 Riding three or more abreast is never a good idea and is contrary to the policy of the Oshawa Cycling Club. A diagonal echolon is not permitted even under windy conditions.

    7 bicycles must be equipped with a bell, gong or horn to notify pedestrians of their approach (Sec. 75(5))

    8 cyclists shall
    use hand signals to alert others of changes in direction (Sec. 142(4))
    9 When
    crossing a road at a crosswalk, a cyclist is required to dismount and walk across the crosswalk.

    10 Riding on sidewalks may or may not be legal. Some municipalities have passed bylaws that regulate when or if you may ride on the sidewalk based either on geography (Oshawa) or size of bicycle (Toronto). Whitby has no bylaw and hence sidewalk riding is technically contrary to the HTA.

    11 Regardless of the law, most cyclists find that riding on sidewalks is dangerous both to themselves and to pedestrians. The exception is for young children who do not have the experience, skill or attention span for riding on roadways and should remain on the sidewalk regardless of the law!

    12 Ride predictively. This means that you should avoid weaving in and out of traffic – if there are parked cars or other obstacles in front of you, ride straight ahead as far to the right as is safe; do not weave in and out.

    13 Be wary of parked cars. One of the main sources of bicycle accidents is being “doored” when a car door opens directly in front of the cyclist’s path.

    14 Take the lane when necessary to avoid unsafe conditions. Notwithstanding the requirement for slower traffic to keep to the right, a bicyclist is not required to ride through potholes, broken pavement and other obstacles that would make his/her progress unsafe. So, signal your intention and move over to avoid the unsafe roadway! The inconvenience of a motorist is not a consideration when your safety is at stake.

    15 Do not pass a motor vehicle on the right. Get into line with the rest of the vehicles at a stop sign or light. When approaching a right-turning motor vehicle from behind, either stay behind or, if safe to do so, pass on the left.

    16 Intersections are among the most dangerous places for cyclists. In this context, intersections include driveways and alleyways. Leave at least one metre between yourself and the curb as a cushion. Where the road or lane is narrow, take the lane to block a motor vehicle from creating a dangerous situation by moving along side. This is particularly important where the vehicle behind you may be making a right turn.

    17 Cyclists must yield to pedestrians at crosswalks.
  2. Oshawa Cycling Club Specific Rules[+]
    1 Helmets are mandatory! You will not be allowed to participate in a Club ride unless you are wearing a bicycle helmet.

    2 Treat other road users with courtesy. When you are on a Club ride, you represent the public face of the Oshawa Cycling Club. Even when you are not on a Club ride, it is our belief that you are an ambassador for all other cyclists and should conduct yourself accordingly.

    3 Guests and potential new members must sign a waiver before joining a Club ride.

    4 E-bicycles (i.e., bicycles powered by anything other than one’s own power) are not permitted on a Club ride. There is no insurance coverage for e-bikes under the Club’s insurance policy.

    5 When riding in a group, you are obliged to
    obey the Ride Leader. For other rules related to group rides, refer to the group rider protocol below
  3. Group Rider Protocol[+]
    Ride Leaders - A matter of responsibility
    1 Ride leaders are not necessarily the best or fastest riders in the group, nor do they necessarily lead from the front of the group.

    2 Ride leaders should come equipped with cell phone, extra waiver forms, incident reporting forms and a writing instrument.

    3 Ride groups should generally consist of 6 to 12 riders but never more than 18. The larger the group, the more likely that it will become strung out and separated, and far more difficult for motor vehicles to pass safely.

    4 Before setting out, introduce yourself; let group know the general route, the target average speed and any special features or hazards; plan ahead for any stops en route. Count the number of riders in your group; determine that all riders are members (or have signed the waiver form) and that they are properly equipped with water bottles, lights, etc. Consider the need for a “sweep”, particularly for larger groups, and appoint an appropriate person.

    5 Try to keep, as a general obligation, his/her fellow riders in the group safe by following Safety Protocol and such other measures as may be prudent under the circumstances

    6 To lead the group at or about the ‘posted’ average pace for the ride

    7 Anticipate safety hazards and instruct group riders accordingly – e.g., while it may be safe to ride two-abreast in some situations, other situations require that we ride single file. These include roads with higher volume traffic, higher speed traffic, or that have road hazards such as potholes, debris, etc. Think ahead!

    8 To avoid ‘dropping’ slower members – when safe to do so and where the line of sight is good in both directions, pull over into a driveway or a place that allows the group to get completely off the road and wait for the straggler.

    9 For those members who are repeatedly being dropped, ask them whether they would be comfortable staying back to join the next group or continuing on by themselves. You should also encourage them to join a slower group for their next ride.

    10 If you stop, do not stand on the road – get off the road and safely on the shoulder.

    11 Sprints are strongly discouraged except at known safe spots where there are clear lines of sight and there is no following or approaching traffic.

    12 Neither you nor any member of your group should cross the yellow line or ride in the lane of approaching traffic.

    13 Encourage communication of hazards/changes of lanes/etc. through hand and vocal signals.

    14 For mechanical distress including flat tires, stop the group until the situation is fixed or the rider waves you on.

    15 For accidents, stop the ride and tend to any injuries. You must report any incidents that may arise during a ride, including accidents, near accidents, interaction between ride/OCC members and the public to the Club Secretary.

    16 To represent the OCC in any interaction with the general public or police. Remember to share the road with other road users, facilitating their safe passage by your group and treat them with the respect with which you would expect them to treat you. Avoid engaging belligerent drivers.

    17 Riders are expected to adhere to OCC safety protocols and to follow the instructions of the group leader. Ride leaders are expected to report incidents where a ride member failed to follow instruction that involved a matter of safety, whether or not that incident gave rise to an actual physical interaction or accident, or that involved a matter of the good reputation of OCC and/or its members.

    Riders who break safety rules or fail to obey the rider leader’s instructions will be warned once only. Should a similar incident occur again, the member will be asked to leave the ride. If a similar incident occurs on two rides in a row, the member’s membership in the Club will be terminated.
    Members - Join the right Group
    1 Group rides are categorized by anticipated average pace at which the group will ride

    2 While there will be variations depending on such matters as route difficulty, weather and wind conditions, ride leaders will attempt to bring the group along at the anticipated pace. However, don’t expect that the ride pace will be perfectly on target.

    3 Members are responsible for their own placement within the appropriate group. However, newer members should discuss this matter with a ride leader.

    4 When in doubt, choose a slower group – you can always move up next time!

    5 Do not ride in aero-bar position in a group.

    6 Let ride leader know if you decide for any reason to leave the ride group.
    Members - Be Prepared
    1 Make sure your bike is ready – tires are properly inflated; brakes and gears are working properly

    2 Go equipped with what you may need in the case of trouble – spare tube, tire levers, multitool, pump or CO2, water bottles, snacks, money, cell phone, identification, health card, emergency contact information (OCC membership card)

    3 Be able to ride in a straight line, even with one hand while reaching for your water bottle, eating or turning. (Note: cell phones should not be used while riding, just as if you were in a motor vehicle)
    Members - Don’t ride too close to the rider ahead of you
    1 Whether riding single file or two-abreast, you should follow no closer than 12 to 18 inches behind the rider ahead of you.

    2 Ride further apart when going downhill or in other situations when travelling at higher speeds.

    3 Never “half-wheel” – i.e., inch ahead of someone riding beside you. This can be annoying and dangerous.
    Members - Ride Predictably
    1 We are all safer when we ride consistently and predictably

    2 Brake gradually, accelerate steadily, avoid erratic or unexpected swerving, communicate turns, slowing, stops, debris well in advance

    Members - Communicate
    1 Signal turns, slowing and stopping with hand signals or voice signals or both

    2 Use your left arm, extended straight out from the shoulder to signal a left turn

    3 Use your right arm, extended straight out from the shoulder to signal a right turn – while the alternative signal is also acceptable (left arm extended to the left but bent up at a right angle), this method is more difficult for motorists and fellow cyclists to see when you are bent forward

    4 Signal debris and other road obstacles well ahead by pointing them out

    5 Using both a hand signal and calling out is never a bad idea
    Members - Interact with Motor Vehicles predictably
    1 Follow the rules of the road – on your bike, you are a “vehicle” under the Highway Traffic Act. Behave as if there is a member of the local police force watching your actions.

    2 Stop at all red traffic lights and proceed only when the light turns green and it is safe to do so

    3 Stop at all stop signs.

    4 Ride in single file when traffic volume is high, traffic speed is high, roads have narrow or non-existent shoulders, roads are in poor repair with potholes and other obstacles, or when the ride leader instructs you to do so

    Never ride three-abreast in any situation – doing so is neither safe nor courteous to other road users.
  4. Ride Leader and Sweep Guidelines[+]
    RIDE LEADER - Communicate
    • Introduce yourself

    • Speed, distance, type of route ie. Hilly, busy traffic, road conditions etc.

    • Plan ahead if group breaks up- wait at corners or specific meet-up location? Escape routes?

    • Ask Riders to communicate with each other, any incidents, mechanicals, or let another rider know if leaving ride. Ask how they are doing

    • May give suggestions for efficiency, such as rider placement in group.
    RIDE LEADER - Awareness
    • Assess riders ability

    • Riders have water bottles, food, tube, pump, tools, lights, phone (possibly share cell numbers)

    • Head count of riders.
    Ride leader may not always be at the front of the group but may move around and may even lead from the back of the group.

    Ride leader may suggest or motion racing riders to go off ahead.

    Communicate with ride leader about route, rider numbers and other info

    • Monitor back of group

    • Stop with riders if needed

    • Pass up information vocally throughout group

    • May be required to lead group if group gets broken up
  5. A Few Additional Tips[+]
    1 Share the road – be aware of other users as they have a right to be there too.

    2 Maximize your visibility – wear reflective/bright/multi-coloured clothing; for riding at dusk or night, your bike should have front and rear reflectors and flashing lights, the brighter the better.

    3 Ride with at least one other cyclist. If riding alone, inform an emergency contact of your route and times in case of trouble.

    4 Carry a cell phone for use in an emergency.

    5 Carry emergency contact information – contact person and phone number; OHIP number or OHIP card; other identification information such as your Oshawa Cycling Club membership card.

    6 Choose a group that fits your abilities. Attempting to ride with groups above your ability level will prove frustrating to both you and the other cyclists in the group.

Great Instructional Videos by Art Cyclery.

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