As we get warmer weather and continue to be on a country-wide lockdown, many people are finding themselves eager to get outside and get some exercise while also returning to the regular habits they previously had when spring weather arrives. 

People are returning to their favourite springtime activities. Whether it may be going for a run or hike, planting spring flowers, or enjoying a picnic in the park. For many, it is pulling out the bicycle that has been stored away for the winter and enjoying some time outdoors. As the seasons change, the environment on our roadways do as well. 

With warmer weather welcomes all sorts of new vehicles to our roadways. In rural areas you can expect to see anything from a horse drawn buggy to an all-terrain vehicle. However, the largest addition to our roadways will be cyclists. You will notice cyclists on the road as the weather gets warmer whether you are in a rural or urban area. As a driver, you must share the roadway with all cyclists. Failure to do so could result in costly fines and insurance premiums.

Over the next few weeks, we will cover many laws and commonly asked questions regarding cyclists and drivers in Ontario. If you have a specific question you wish to have answered, please email [email protected]

The first of our series on cyclists will cover the “One-Meter Passing Law” for drivers passing cyclists. First, we must learn what is a “cyclist” under the law and who do these laws apply to? 

What is a “Bicycle”

A bicycle, or bike, includes a vehicle that:

  • Has one, two, or three wheels (unicycle, bicycle, tricycle)
  • Has steering handlebars and pedals
  • Does not have a motor 

Bicycles do not require:

  • Registration
  • Licence Plates
  • Insurance
  • Driver’s Licence
  • Age limit to ride 

Where can you ride your bicycle?

You can ride on most roadways in Ontario, except:

  • controlled access highways, such as Ontario’s 400-series highways
  • across a road within a pedestrian crossover – you must walk your bike to the other side
  • across a road within a crosswalk at any intersection or other location with traffic signals – you must walk your bike to the other side.

Now that we know a bit more about what a bicycle is, let’s take a look at a law that requires driver’s leave a certain distance when passing a cyclist.

The law (Section 148(6.1) of the Highway Traffic Act) was passed in September 2015 and requires that driver’s who are planning to pass a cyclist leave one metre of space between their vehicle and the cyclist when passing. 

What is the penalty for not leaving a one-metre distance when passing someone on a bicycle?

The penalty for not leaving a one-metre passing distance is a set fine of $85.00 which with victim fine surcharges and court costs comes to a total payable fine of $110.00. 

Drivers who contest their ticket by going to court may face a fine of up to $500 if found guilty (fine range is $60 to $500). Upon conviction, two demerit points will also be assigned against the individual’s driver record. 

Are cyclists also required to leave one-metre distance when passing a vehicle?

Cyclists are not required to leave the same one-metre distance that a driver is required to leave. However, they are still required and expected to obey all the rules of the road under the Highway Traffic Act. If you are riding a bike and being overtaken it is important to move as far as possible to the right in an effort to accommodate the pass. 

Can I move into the oncoming lane if I am passing a cyclist?

Yes, if it is done safely and pursuant to the Highway Traffic Act and any other traffic laws. If it can not be done safely or within the scope of the law, the driver must wait until it can be done safely. 

Do You Need To Defend Yourself Against An Ontario Traffic Ticket?

If you need to defend your driving rights against an Ontario traffic ticket you should contact us as soon as possible. We have skill and experience in helping drivers just like you respond to a variety of traffic tickets and provide free, confidential consultations to empower you to fight your charges. We help drivers throughout Ontario including Cambridge, Georgetown, London, Windsor and from our home office in Kitchener. Contact us online or call us directly at 1.844.647.6869 or text us a copy of your ticket to 226.240.2480.

Ron Harper
A licensed paralegal with over 30 years of experience in traffic offences. Founder of OTD Ticket Defenders.
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