Road Safety For Cyclists: Lessons To Be Learned From Ottawa Accidents

The recent tragedy involving a young cyclist who was killed in a collision on a Laurier Ave. bike lane in Ottawa sent shock waves throughout the community. The 23-year old cyclist, daughter of a Bangladeshi diplomat, was apparently “right hooked” by a truck and died immediately. This location is fast gaining the reputation of being an accident hot-spot for cyclists, since at least three serious accidents have occurred here over a span of just five days.

Ottawa is one of Canada’s leaders in promoting cycling as transportation for its citizens. People like Share The Road executive director Jamie Stuckless have chosen to live here for precisely this reason. Raised cycle tracks, planned connections and off-road paths for cyclists are among the features that make the city an excellent option for cycling enthusiasts. In fact, an increased cycling population does ensure that more long-term safety features are installed and better motorist awareness is created in the local community.

What’s the Right Hook?

The “right hook” is something that all cyclists dread and fear. It happens when a motorist right in front of the cyclist makes a right turn, cutting off the cyclist. This usually happens because the motorist misreads the cyclist’s intentions and speed. It can prove very dangerous for the unwary cyclist because motorists hardly ever check the narrow space on their right while making the turn. Cyclists need to be more alert, proactive and assertive but this may not be enough if the motor-vehicle is traveling at high speed.

Most intersections are hazard points and cyclists need to maintain visibility and remain in charge. Cycling skills, knowledge of the rules and an alert frame of mind can go a long way in ensuring your own safety.

If you or a dear one has been injured in a cycling accident caused by a careless or negligent motorist, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer with expertise in dealing with cycling accidents. You may be entitled to compensation. 

Cyclists’ Rights and Rules 

The Ottawa accident has refueled the debate on biker safety. Soon after the accident, a crowd of concerned citizens gathered outside the Ottawa City Hall to call for more safety measures regarding cyclists in the city.

Cyclists have the same rights as pedestrians. Since they are on slower moving vehicles, cyclists need to stay on the right of the road to let faster-moving vehicles pass. They also need to maintain optimum distance from parked vehicles on the right.

They have a legal right to occupy the center of the lane if that’s the safer option.

They must use safety equipment and wear protective gear.

They must stop for red lights, obey all other traffic signs and ride in designated direction on one-ways.

They may not carry passengers.

If you’re wheeling your bicycle on a highway for some reason, you’re considered to be a pedestrian and must follow the required rules.

They must be specially alert while traveling in groups, passing larger vehicles like trucks and also crossing rail or streetcar tracks.

Following the necessary rules and regulations, and being aware of your rights can help you have a safer cycling experience.


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