The Highway Traffic Act (HTA) sets the laws and expectations for using all types of roads in Ontario. A bicycle is defined as a “vehicle” in the HTA, along with motor vehicles, and “any vehicle drawn, propelled or driven by any kind of power, including muscular power, but does not include a motorized snow vehicle or a street car”. The definition of a “bicycle” in the HTA “includes a tricycle, a unicycle and a power-assisted bicycle but does not include a motor-assisted bicycle”.

Summary Of Laws

  • Lights and Reflectors on Bicycles

    Bicycles are required to have either a white or amber light on the front, and a red light or a reflector on the back. Lights must be turned on 30 minutes before sunset to 30 minutes after sunrise. They also need to be on at any time when, due to insufficient light or unfavourable atmospheric conditions, persons and vehicles on the highway are not clearly discernible at a distance of 150 metres or less. Bicycles also require white reflective strips on its front forks and red reflective strips on its rear stays at least 250 millimetres long, and 25 millimetres wide.

  • Brakes on Bicycles

    Bicycles must have at least one brake system acting on the rear wheel that will enable the rider to make the braked wheel skid on dry, level and clean pavement.

  • Alarm Bell To Be Sounded

    Bicycle must have either a bell, gong or horn. It needs to be kept in working order, and used whenever it is reasonably necessary to notify pedestrians or others of your approach.

  • Pedestrian Crossovers

    People are not permitted to operate a bicycle across a roadway within a pedestrian crossover.

  • Signalling

    Before turning at any intersection, private road, driveway, changing lanes, or pulling over, operator of all vehicles must check that the movement can be made in safety. If the operation of any other vehicle may be affected by the movement, the operator must give a signal plainly visible to other vehicle operators of their intention.

  • Traffic Lights

    Vehicle operators must obey all applicable traffic control signals.

  • Overtaking

    People operating vehicles meeting a person travelling on a bicycle must allow the cyclist sufficient room on the roadway to pass.

    People operating bicycles being overtaken by a vehicle travelling at a greater speed must turn out to the right and allow the overtaking vehicle to pass. People operating motor vehicles overtaking a person travelling on a bicycle must leave a distance of at least one metre between the bicycle and the motor vehicle, and maintain that distance until safely past the bicycle.

  • Bike Lanes and Shoulders

    Bicycles may be ridden on the paved shoulder of a road. They may also operate in bicycle designated lanes, and are not obligated to stay in that lane if it is obstructed or unsafe.

  • Passengers

    Bicycle can only carrying the number of people it’s designed for.

  • The Police

    A police officer who finds any person on a bicycle contravening the HTA or any municipal by-law may require that person to stop and identify themselves. That person can also be fined.

  • Helmets

    A person who is 18 years old or older is not required to wear a helmet.

    Duty of parent or guardian

    Parents and guardians of people under sixteen years of age are responsible for ensuring that person rides a bicycle with a helmet.