Cycling 101

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Cycling is fun, good for the environment and great exercise. However, before you make cycling part of your daily commute to work, school or anywhere that involves traveling with traffic, you need to make sure you’re comfortable with your bike, you understand the rules of the road and you have the right gear.

Safety for kids

Before your children put their feet to the pedals, make sure they have the necessary skills to do so safely. In Manitoba, it’s the law that cyclists under 18 wear a properly fitted and fastened helmet. Parents or guardians are responsible for making sure children wear a bicycle helmet and can be ticketed under The Highway Traffic Act. Teenagers between the ages of 14 and 18 can be fined directly or be required to complete a bike-helmet safety course.

Basic traffic skills

Before you take your bike on the road, it’s important that your comfortable riding it. Be confident in your ability to:

  1. Balance while signalling.
  2. Ride your bike in a straight line.
  3. Stop.
  4. Shift gears.

For more on hand signals and how bikes should navigate roads and traffic, see the Sharing the Road page.

Basic traffic laws

In Manitoba, the laws that regulate cyclists are contained in The Highway Traffic Act. In summary, those laws include:

  • Do not ride on the sidewalk.
  • Obey traffic control signals and signs.
  • Ride as closely to the right curb as possible.
  • Use hand signals and eye contact to communicate.
  • Do not weave between parked cars – ride in a straight line.
  • Ride single file when riding with other cyclists.
  • Don’t carry anything that is large enough to affect your ability to maintain safe control and balance of the bicycle.
  • Do not operate a bicycle when you have been drinking alcohol.

Riding bikes on sidewalks

It is against the law to ride on sidewalks unless the diameter of your rear wheel is 410 millimetres (16 inches) or less.

Several studies have proven that cyclists on sidewalks face a far greater collision risk than cyclists on the roadway, the main concern being at intersections.

Safety equipment

Under Manitoba law, it’s compulsory for anyone under 18 years old to wear a properly fitted and fastened helmet when cycling. However, we strongly encourage all cyclists wear helmets, especially if they will be sharing the road with vehicles. In nearly 90 per cent of cases where cyclists were killed in a collision with a vehicle, the cyclist was not wearing a helmet.

Other equipment to consider that will make your ride safer includes:

  • LED lights and reflectors
  • Reflective/bright clothing
  • Safety or sun glasses
  • Gloves
  • Bell
  • Side mirror