Bicycle Law in Alberta.

Author:Surtees, Jeff

As a cyclist, do you follow the rules of the road?

According to a University of Colorado Survey, about eighty-five percent of cyclists do obey the law when riding. Almost three quarters of the scofflaws who break the rules claim to do so for their personal safety--saying they are simply getting out of the way of automotive traffic as quickly as they can. The most common law-breaking activity of cyclists is going through red lights or stop signs. In Australia, thirty-seven percent of cyclists admit to riding through red lights in the previous month. The UK is slightly lower at thirty-two percent.

Statistics Canada data shows that over forty percent of Canadians cycle and the numbers among adults are growing. Some Canadian municipalities are aggressively improving the cycling infrastructure to encourage bicycle commuting. Edmonton spent $7.5 million on a seven kilometer bike network in 2017. Calgary put $5.75 million into successful trial program in 2015. Both cities have reported an increase in bicycle commuters.

Rules, rules, rules....

In this article we are going to talk about some of the written laws that govern cycling. Be aware that the unwritten common law rules of negligence also apply to cycling. Everyone has a duty to take reasonable care to not harm others by their activities. If you fail to do so and you cause harm, you could be sued for damages.

In Canada, written cycling laws come from a variety of federal and provincial statutes and local bylaws. It is the responsibility of every cyclist to understand the rules that apply where they are riding. If you want to learn more about how law-making powers are divided between Canada's levels of government, check out CPLEA's publication "The Canadian Legal System".

Some written laws that affect cyclists are "laws of general application". In other words, they apply to everyone, including cyclists. An example would be the criminal laws passed by Canada's federal government. If you commit a crime with or on your bike, you could be charged and if you are found guilty, you will be convicted and punished. An example would be intentionally running into a pedestrian with your bike. That could fit the definition of assault under section 265 of the Criminal Code. That section does not contain the word "bicycle" but it still applies to cyclists.

Other written laws specifically refer to cycling. Those laws generally dictate what kind of safety equipment is required, where cyclists can ride, and some...

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