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Here comes the sun? Top 5 Bike Safety Tips from Goldfinger Personal Injury Law

I was at our Peterborough Office at 380 Armour Rd in the East City today. En-route, it began to snow. Like real, hard core snow.

Confession: I had my snow tires removed 3 weeks ago. With temperatures below freezing in Peterborough and the Kawarthas, I could have benefited from keeping those snow tires on just a bit longer.

In any event, I will make a Goldfinger Guarantee that the weather will get warmer, and we will all finally have an opportunity to get outside and feel a bit more active.

The “activity” part of this Toronto Injury Lawyer Blog Post segues (pronounced seg-ways) nicely in to this week’s topic; top bicycling safety tips for Ontario cyclists. We usually publish some bike safety tips when Spring is around the corner because we know know much people love to get out there and be active. Whether you cycle everyday for your commute to work in a big city like Toronto or London; or you enjoy a weekend ride on the country roads outside of Peterborough and the Kawarthas, these tips will ensure that you’ve done everything you can to stay safe.

TIP #1 Get car insurance! You read that right! We encourage all cyclists to have some form of car or vehicle insurance before they hit the roads. But why you ask? Cycling is free. You don’t need a license to ride a bike. You don’t need to fill it up with gasoline. The laws in the Province of Ontario don’t require that you cycle with insurance; so why is this Injury Lawyer telling me to cycle with insurance!?!?!?!

If you’re hurt or injured in a bike accident by an unisured, unidentified, or under insured motor vehicle (like another car), then you will be able to recover accident benefits and damages under your own policy of insurance! If you’re cycling and you don’t have ANY FORM OF CAR INSURANCE whatsoever, and you’re involved in a cycling accident with an uninsured, unidenfied or under insured motor vehicle, then you will have no other recourse than to claim damages from the Ontario Motor Vehicle Accidend Claims Fund where the policy limits are just $200,000. If the same accident took place with an insured cyclist, the amount of damages increases to the standard limits of the policy, which are $1,000,000 in Ontario, if not higher if you pay more for the increased benefit. It only costs around $5-$9 or so per year to increase the limits under your standard automobile policy from $1,000,000 up to $2,000,000. The insurer looks to the car insurance to pay out the accident benefits and pay for the pain and suffering sustained in the bike accident. It also expedites the recovery of treatment for an accident victim if they are claiming under their own policy; as opposed to making a claim for benefits from the Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Fund. Recovering said accident benefits (like physio) from the Fund can be an incredibly long and arduous process as opposed to getting those very same benefits from your own insurer.

TIP #2 Get a proper bike helmet: Bike helmets save lives and help prevent brain injury. It’s a fact. In the City of Toronto, people under the age of 18 are required to wear a bike helmet. But people 18 and older aren’t. That doesn’t make much sense to me. Traumatic brain injury doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t care what the colour of your skin is; nor does it care how young or old you are. In the blink of an eye, you can fall off your bike and bump your head, or get hit by a car. And we all know that bikes are the smallest and lightest vehicles on the road. In the battle of car vs. bike; car always wins. As far as I’m concerned, if wearing a seat belt is the law, then so should wearing a bike helmet.

TIP #3 Wear bright coloured and reflective biking gear: When riding a bike, it’s best to “see and be seen”. If motorists see you riding, then they can’t use the most common excuse “I didn’t see him“. I hate seeing people on bikes riding at night when visibility is poor who don’t have reflective gear. This is a recipe for disaster, particularly in a bustling metropolis like the City of Toronto where bikes lanes are scarce; construction is a plenty; and people are in a rush to get from Point “A” to Point “B”. That neon reflective shirt may not be ready for a fasion runway, but if it saves your life then who can argue with that. Safety first. Not fashion first (although you can certain find clothing items which provide for both!)

TIP #4 Have your bike checked and serviced: Cars need tune ups. General machinery needs tune ups. So does your bike. We’ve seen cases where people have been riding bikes with worn out or defective brakes resulting in a serious collision and injuries. Don’t be the guy who takes out his bike for the first ride of the season only to find out that his brakes aren’t working the way they should be and BANG: a head on collision. Part of the fun for many bike enthusiasts is that you don’t need to be a licensed mechanic to work on your bike. Make sure that your bike is working properly so that you can have a safe safety

TIP #5 Don’t think your invincible on a bike: Just because car traffic has come to a stall and you can weave in and out between cars on your bike and flow freely, doesn’t mean that you rule the road. Respect motorists, pedestrians, construction workers, pot holes and other hazards which the roads will present. One bad turn, one bad move and it can be lights out for a cyclist. We get those calls all the time from injured cyclists who made that “one bad move” and now are in a large cast and can’t cycle for the rest of the season. We blogged last year about the “dooring” phenomenon in Toronto. That happens when the driver or a parked car opens his/her car door directly in to the path of a cyclist who is passing by. The end result is that the cyclist can’t swerve or turn fast enough to avoid the opening door, and they collide head on in to it. These dooring accidents cause SERIOUS injuries. So: a word to the wise to my fellow cyclists. You’re not invincible on that bike. Beware of your surroundings. It’s never a bad idea to slow down. Better safe than injured and needing a lawyer.

Enough law talk? Sure. How about Toronto’s professional basketball team? After last week’s embarassing 2 game playoff home stand, you can hardly call this team “professional”. There was no heart. There was no fight. There was no passion. There was no desperation, sense of pride or sense of urgency. Quite simply, they were a defeated bunch undeserving of the overwhelming support from this zealous Toronto fan base.  This team does NOT deserve these passionate and loyal fans. The Hawks played in front of 5 fans before they started showing some passion and winning. Toronto is not deserving of the blind support it has received for 20 years of mediocrity in the NBA. One franchise playoff series win in 20 years. The only NBA franchise without a 50 win season. Career highs set consistently against this team. What a disappointment games #1 and #2 have been.

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