After reading Rob’s post on one of the more specific aspects of cycling law (passing on the right hand side of cars stopped at stop light), I got to reading some specific excerpts of the Highway Traffic Act and came to realize that there are many items in there I had no idea I should be following (or could do). So, did you know these?

HTA 142 – “Signalling a turn before turning, look behind you and signal your turn. Cyclists can use their right arm to signal a right turn”. Set fine: $85.00

I had no idea I could legally signal a turn with my right arm to turn right. I always figured I had to use my left and do the upturned arm thing.
Here’s one we all think we know for cars, but did you know:

HTA 175 (12) – “Stopped school buses stop for stopped school buses when the upper alternating red lights are flashing and the stop arm is out.” Set fine: $400.00

I never even think about this, yet I know I pass a school bus now and then on the opposite side of the road. If I duck up onto the sidewalk, does that make it legal to then pass? Just thinking out loud.

HTA 62(17) – “Lights: a bike must have a white front light and a red rear light or reflector if you ride between 1/2 hour before sunset and 1/2 hour after sunrise and white reflective tape on the front forks and red reflective tape on rear forks”. Set fine: $20.00

How many of us have reflective tape? I don’t, not on my front anyway. For less than $20 you can buy it, so it might be worth the trouble to save some money from the fine!

Here is the actual excerpt

“When on a highway at any time from one-half hour before sunset to one-half hour after sunrise and at any other time when, due to insufficient light or unfavourable atmospheric conditions, persons and vehicles on the highway are not clearly discernible at a distance of 150 metres or less, every motor-assisted bicycle and bicycle (other than a unicycle) shall carry a lighted lamp displaying a white or amber light on its front and a lighted lamp displaying a red light or a reflector approved by the Ministry on its rear, and in addition white reflective material shall be placed on its front forks, and red reflective material covering a surface of not less than 250 millimetres in length and 25 millimetres in width shall be place on its rear. 2009, c. 5, s. 28 (1).”

Darn unicycles get away with everything!I also didn’t know the last part and frankly don’t understand it…

HTA104 – “Helmets: Every cyclist under the age of eighteen must wear an approved bicycle helmet. Parents or guardians shall not knowingly permit cyclists under sixteen to ride without a helmet.” Set fine: $60.00

Why can parents knowingly permit cyclists between 16 and 17 to not wear a helmet? Why not just make it mandatory to a certain age without providing a grey area?

HTA 147 – “For cyclists, you must ride far enough out from the curb to maintain a straight line, clear of sewer grates, debris, potholes, and parked car doors. You may occupy any part of a lane when your safety warrants it.” I never knew that it was the law that I had to stay far enough away from the curb, etc to be safe. According to most drivers, I am already in the way for being on the road, but taking up a space that the law provides for me, well now, I can’t wait to use this one! AND Bicycles overtaken: “Every person on a bicycle or motor assisted bicycle who is overtaken by a vehicle or equestrian travelling at a greater speed shall turn out to the right and allow the vehicle or equestrian to pass and the vehicle or equestrian 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).”

Did you know you had to turn to the right to allow space for the car?

Every person in charge of a vehicle on a highway meeting a person travelling on a bicycle shall allow the cyclist sufficient room on the roadway to pass. R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 148 (4).

Just quote that bad boy the next time someone comes close to you on the road! Any others I might be missing? Thoughts?

15 thoughts on “Lawyered!

  1. You missed the dumbest one of them all:
    “HTA 75 (5) – Bell
    a bike must have a bell or horn in good working order. Set fine: $85.00”

    A driver inside a steel and glass box isn’t going to hear a little bell. And, its illegal to cycle on the sidewalk so it can’t be to warn pedestrians your approaching. Plus, I can yell louder than any of the bells for sale in most shops. Unless, you buy one of those air horns you pump up with a bike pump a bell is just dead weight.

    I didn’t know about the reflective tape, I wonder why stores can sell bikes without the tape? And are the standard reflectors that come on new bikes not enough?

    And I’m just left more confused after being told that I “must ride far enough out from the curb to maintain a straight line” and also that I “may occupy any part of a lane when my safety warrants it” but when being “overtaken by a vehicle travelling at a greater speed I shall turn out to the right and allow the vehicle to pass”. So do I move over even if it is unsafe and causes me to not drive in a straight line? Or, do I remain in a straight line and break the law requiring me to “turn out to the right”? What happens if a line of ten cars passes me…I’ll be zig zagging to the right every time one goes by, sounds like a recipe for getting run over!

    And this is a real beauty: “the vehicle or equestrian overtaking shall turn out to the left so far as may be necessary to avoid a collision.” You can pass as close as you want so long as you don’t hit that pesky cyclist??? What the hell.

    1. While I agree that the mandatory bell thing doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, I use mine all the time, particularly on the Iron Horse, and drivers in cars certainly do hear it.

  2. The fine for not having a bell is ridiculously high and it’s one almost all cops will nail you with if they can. The reflective strip one is a lot more obscure. There’s a lot of good reflective tape products out there, crappy tire’s auto department has some. I’m surprised the light fine is only 20$ it seems much more important to have lights at night than a bell. Riding through a stopped school bus is a bit of a dick move if you ask me.

    Also I don’t think parents can make kids over 16 do anything they don’t want to do… hence a lot of kids move out at 16 ‘cos they legally can. IANAL so don’t quote me on that.

  3. I signal quite often and always use my right arm for right turns.

    As for the school bus thing, seeing as it is technically illegal to cycle on the sidewalk, no it wouldn’t be legal to do, but less of a fine I suppose.
    My issue with school buses are I see far too many driving (approaching) their stops with the stop sign extended and flashing, yet they are still moving. If they are not stopped, how am I to know where they will be stopping?

    You know where I stand on helmets…any age :p
    I read recently in Sweden some are trying to get the child’s helmet law repealed.

    I knew about the distance from the curb, even most government run websites say you should ride at least one metre from the curb.

    I believe this varies from city to city, but here in St. Catharines you can legally ride outside of the bike lane.

  4. I don’t get that last one:

    “Every person in charge of a vehicle on a highway meeting a person travelling on a bicycle shall allow the cyclist sufficient room on the roadway to pass. R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 148 (4).”

    Do they mean on a narrow street with you and the car going opposite direction? Or they mean to pass on the right? Totally unclear.

    I would interpret the apparent conflict between “must right far enough out to avoid sewer grates etc ” and “turn out to the right and allow the vehicle or equestrian to pass” to mean “safety first, but don’t intentionally hog the whole road for no reason”… but that’s just how I’d like it to be interpreted. Certainly not clear.

    This is exactly the type of thing that should be fixed, instead of quibbling over dumb shit bike helmet laws or bike license plates.

  5. Ooh, I found another good one:

    “City of Waterloo Traffic By-Law
    Part V, Parking and Stopping Restrictions
    Section 2, Parking Prohibited

    a) Unless otherwise permitted in this by-law, no person shall at anytime park a
    vehicle in any of the following places:

    (xiv) On, or in such a manner as to obstruct any designated bicycle lane,
    provided that this shall not prohibit a momentary stopping of transit
    buses at signs marking a bus stop, taxis while actively engaged in
    receiving or discharging passengers, or other motor vehicles while
    actively engaged in receiving or discharging passengers.”

    So it’s actually illegal for people to park in bike lanes, even if there’s no “no parking” sign. Since there usually aren’t any “no parking” signs along bike paths in Waterloo, I thought it wasn’t technically illegal… but it is! It’s just not being enforced… at all…

    1. I actually stopped at the Rec Centre to use the payphone to report a big line of cars parked in the lane along Father David Bauer Drive once. I’m not sure if anything ever came of it, all I could do was leave a message on the answering machine for bylaw enforcement.

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