Cycling - Laws and Safety
The Province of Alberta and the City of Edmonton created the cycling laws that help protect cyclists and others who share transportation facilities.
The Province of Alberta Traffic Safety Act, The City of Edmonton Traffic Bylaw #5590 and The City of Edmonton Parkland Bylaw #2202 contain formal regulations regarding bicycle traffic and use of transportation and parkland facilities.
Rules of the Road / Pathway
- Only bicycles with wheels less than 50 centimeter in diameter (children's bikes) are permitted on sidewalks.
- Standard size bicycles are only allowed on signed, shared-use sidewalks that are 2.5 meters wide or greater.
- Where permitted by signs to use a sidewalk, always give right-of-way to pedestrians and always give audible warning of your approach.
- Be especially careful when re-entering roadways.
Cyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as motor vehicles and must obey all rules of the road. They're allowed on all roads as well as shared-use pathways, bike lanes and bike routes.
In Edmonton, bicycles are not required to be licensed or registered. A bicycle license is not required for police officers to enforce the current traffic laws. Cyclists are accountable in the same way that motor vehicle drivers are, and may be ticketed in accordance with local and provincial legislation.
Give Each Other Space
Cyclists must ride as close to the curb as is safe and only ride in single file except when passing another vehicle. When cyclists and motorists pass one another, give each other space -- 1 metre (3 feet) is best. When 1 metre is not available cyclists should consider taking the lane.
Cyclists should not pass between two occupied vehicles, even if they are stopped at a red light.
Use caution and be mindful of the door zone when cycling past or exiting a parked car. The Door Zone is the area along the side of a parked car where an opening door can hit and seriously injure a cyclist.
When riding in a bike lane, ride on the left side of the lane-away from parked cars. Try to look inside each parked car before you pass. If you’re unable to see if someone is inside, or if you spot someone inside, move outside the Door Zone or slow down and pass carefully.
When parked on the side of the road, do a shoulder check, over your left shoulder before opening your door to ensure there are no oncoming cyclists. Opening the door with your right hand will remind you to do a shoulder check.
Trails and Parks
Cycling is permitted on all shared-use pathways and unimproved trails 0.5 meters or wider. Always obey signed trail and park closures. Police and Park Rangers require all people, including cyclists, to leave City parks by closing time.
Cyclists are required to have certain equipment based on provincial and municipal regulations. Essential equipment when cycling:
- A bell or horn.
- A bicycle brake.
- When cycling at night a white headlamp, a red tail lamp and a red rear reflector.
- If under the age of 18, a helmet.
Alberta Traffic Safety Act, Part 6 Division 5 Section 111 & 112 :
- Cyclists younger than 18 are required by law to wear an approved bicycle helmet.
- Children in trailers and on trail-a-bikes are required by law to wear an approved bicycle helmet.
- Adults are encouraged to wear a helmet.
- Helmets must meet ANSI, Snell or CSA standards to provide enough protection.
Make Sure It Fits
- The helmet fits snugly, is level front to back, and sits an inch above your eyebrows.
- Adjust the straps so the 'V' is below you ears and you can fit two fingers between your chin and the strap.
By law bicycles must be equipped with adequate steering and brakes that will lock wheels on dry, clean, level pavement.
- You may not stop in time if you brake with only one hand.
- Allow extra distance for stopping in the rain, wet brakes are less effective.
- Contact Bikeworks for advice and workshops about keeping a bike in good repair.
Cyclists must sound a warning device, such as a horn or bell, before passing pedestrians on shared-use pathways and must always give them the right of way.
Lights and Reflectors
When riding after dark, bicycles must have a front headlight, a red tail light and a red rear reflector. Reflective vests and other lightly coloured clothes with reflective tape are recommended for extra visibility.
Cyclists should consider using the following equipment to improve visibility and safety:
- Brightly-coloured and weather specific clothing
- Padded cycling gloves
- Protective or sun glasses
- A flag on your trailer
- Pack or a rack
Brightly coloured or reflective clothing make cyclists more visible on roads and paths. Weather specific clothing will keep you warm, dry, and prepared for any temperature changes. Glasses and gloves will protect you from dust and debris. Wear a helmet with a hard outer shell and crushable, foam lining. Don’t wear headphones or earbuds, hearing traffic is an essential part of safe riding.
Use Flags on Bicycle Trailers
Trailers may be difficult for motorists to see. Use a red flag on the trailer at rider height to alert motorists of your presence.
Use a Pack or Rack
Saddlebags, racks, baskets and small backpacks are great ways to free your hands for safe riding.
For More Information
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