The City of Ottawa has opened a number of bike lanes downtown that are causing concern for cyclists and motorist alike. There is a new bike lane on O’Connor Street which has reduced the vehicle traffic by one lane, causing headaches for motorists and confusion for cyclists.  In order to safely share the road, there are a few important points that both motorists and cyclists need to know:

  1. In Ontario, a motorist has to leave a distance of one meter between the right side of the car and the left side of the bicycle.  The distance must be maintained until the car is safely past the bicycle. It’s the law.
  2. A cyclist riding on a paved shoulder is allowed to pass cars on the right if the cars are moving more slowly than the cyclist. The cyclist has to remain on the paved shoulder side of the separation.
  3. A cyclist involved in a collision with a car who is injured can access car insurance accident benefits. Even a cyclist who doesn’t  own a car may  access these benefits.
  4. A driver or passenger in a car has to check to make sure it is safe before opening the car door.
  5. If there is a collision between a motorist and a cyclist and there is a civil lawsuit started by the cyclist for injuries,  the onus is on the motorist to prove that he or she was not at fault. The onus does not rest with the cyclist to prove that the motorist was at fault.

As the spring approaches, and there are more cyclists on the road, there are sure to be more incidents between cyclists and motorists. Ensure you wear a helmet and bright colours if you are cycling around the city and remember that the more visible you are to motorists, the safer you will be!

For more information on the laws affecting both cyclists and motorists, or if you have any questions regarding the points outlined above, please feel free to contact me directly.

Susan Mitchell

Partner – Personal Injury and Litigation Group

Disclaimer: This article is provided as an information resource. This article should not be relied upon to make decisions and is not intended to replace advice from a qualified legal professional. In all cases, contact a legal professional for advice on any matter referenced in this document before making any decisions. Any use of this document does not constitute a lawyer-client relationship. Please note that this information is current only to the date of posting. The law is constantly changing and always evolving.


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