Ontario Ministry of Transportation

#Cycle ON: Ontario’s Cycling Strategy Action Plan 2.0 (2018)

Cycling is a core part of Ontario’s transportation system and is integral to fostering healthier and more prosperous communities. Increasing cycling opportunities in Ontario offers many benefits, including improved well-being, lower rates of chronic conditions and reduced health care costs as a result of active living, reduced traffic congestion in urban areas, a cleaner environment and increased tourism opportunities across the province.

To promote cycling and cycling safety in Ontario, the provincial government released #CycleON: Ontario’s Cycling Strategy in 2013. #CycleON is a 20-year vision to have cycling recognized as a respected and valued mode of transportation within Ontario. It includes five strategic directions to guide action by the government and partners across Ontario:

  • Design healthy, active and prosperous communities
  • Improve cycling infrastructure
  • Make highways and streets safer
  • Promote cycling awareness and behavioural shifts
  • Increase cycling tourism opportunities

#CycleON is being implemented through a series of multi-year action plans, rolled out every five years. #CycleON Action Plan 1.0, released in 2014, was the first in the series. Action Plan 2.0 will be implemented between 2018 and 2023.


Ministry of Transportation Laws for Cycling

Please refer to the Ontario Highway Traffic Act for precise wording, definitions and latest updates to the Act. Below is selected information that may help cyclists.

A bicycle is a vehicle under the Ontario Highway Traffic Act. [H.T.A. 1. (1)]
Cyclists must obey traffic laws and can be fined for breaking them. [“Cycling and The Law”, Ministry of Transportation]

  • Allow faster vehicles to pass [H.T.A. 148]
  • Ride in a straight line at least 1 metre away from parked vehicles
  • In urban areas a cyclist may take the lane if it is too narrow to share safely with motorists [“Riding in Traffic”, Ministry of Transportation]
  • Not attach their bicycle or themselves to another vehicle on the road [H.T.A. 178 (1.)]
  • Only carry the number of passengers the bicycle is designed for [H.T.A. 178 (1.)]
  • Cyclists must walk across a pedestrian crosswalk [H.T.A. 140(1), 144(29)]
  • Stop for red lights and stop signs [H.T.A. 144]
  • Stop for stopped school buses when the red lights are flashing [H.T.A. 175 (12.)]
  • Travel according to the designated direction on one‑way streets [H.T.A. 153]
  • Use hand signals to indicate turns or lane changes including taking the lane [H.T.A. 142 (1.)]

1-Metre Passing Law

  • Every person in charge of a motor vehicle on a highway who is overtaking a person travelling on a bicycle shall, as nearly as may be practicable, leave a distance of not less than one metre between the bicycle and the motor vehicle and shall maintain that distance until safely past the bicycle. [H.T.A. Bill 31 (6.1)]
  • The one metre distance required by subsection (6.1) refers to the distance between the extreme right side of the motor vehicle and the extreme left side of the bicycle, including all projections and attachments. [H.T.A. Bill 31 (6.2)]
  • Every person who contravenes this section is guilty of an offence and on conviction is liable to a fine of not less than $300 and not more than $1,000. [Bill 31 (6.1)]

Pedestrian Crossovers & School Crossings

  • No person shall ride or operate a bicycle across a roadway within a pedestrian crossover. [Bill 31 (6)]

Drivers and cyclists must stop and yield the whole roadway at pedestrian crossovers; and at school crossings where there is a crossing guard displaying a school crossing stop sign. Only when pedestrians and school crossing guards are safely on the sidewalk, can drivers and cyclists proceed.

Pedestrian Crossing Safety Rules apply at pedestrian crossovers identified with specific signs, road markings and lights –  rules do not apply to pedestrian crosswalks at intersections with stop signs or traffic signals, unless a school crossing guard is present.

Making Ontario Roads Safer

Safety Items

Lights and Reflectors

  • When on a highway at any time from one-half hour before sunset to one-half hour after sunrise and at any other 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, every motor-assisted bicycle and bicycle (other than a unicycle) shall carry a lighted lamp displaying a white or amber light on its front and a lighted lamp displaying a red light or a reflector on its rear, and in addition white reflective material shall be placed on its front forks, and red reflective material covering a surface of not less than 250 millimetres in length and 25 millimetres in width shall be placed on its rear. [H.T.A. 62 (17) Bill 31 (17) 2015]
  • A bicycle may carry a lighted lamp on its rear that produces intermittent flashes of red light at any time, and may carry such a lamp at the times described in subsection (17) instead of or in addition to the lighted lamp displaying a red light or reflector required by that subsection. [H.T.A. 62 (17.1) 2015]


  • No person shall ride a bicycle on a highway unless it is equipped with 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. [H.T.A. 64 (3) 1990]

Bell, Horn or Gong

  • Every motor vehicle, motor assisted bicycle and bicycle shall be equipped with an alarm bell, gong or horn, which shall be kept in good working order and sounded whenever it is reasonably necessary to notify pedestrians or others of its approach. [H.T.A. 75 (5) 1990]


Ontario Bicycle Safety: Wearing a helmet can greatly reduce the risk of injury or death if you fall or collide with a car, pedestrian or other cyclists. A bicycle helmet is strongly recommended but not legally required if you are 18 or over. The best helmet is one that: fits properly, is worn correctly, has been manufactured to meet strict safety standards.

  • Persons under 18 years of age must wear a helmet
  • Parents or guardians are responsible for the helmet law compliance of persons 16 years of age or under
  • Helmets must be securely fastened under the chin
  • [H.T.A. 104. (2.1), R.R.O. 1990, REGULATION 610 5.] [H.T.A. 104. (2.2)]
  • helmet worn by a person operating or riding a bicycle on a highway shall,
  • (a) have a smooth outer surface, be constructed so that the helmet is capable of absorbing energy on impact and be strongly attached to a strap designed to be fastened under the chin of the wearer; and
  • (b) be undamaged from use or misuse.
  • The helmet shall bear the mark of the standards authority or the mark of the manufacturer showing that the helmet meets the prescribed standard.  [H.T.A. 104 R.R.O. 1990, REGULATION 610 (3) 2018]

See blog posting about helmet research and brain injuries

approved bike helmet