Cycling in Thunder Bay

Cycling is a great way to stay active. It keeps us healthy and physically fit, reduces stress and helps our mental health too. It’s also great for the environment.

The Thunder Bay District Health Unit encourages cycling as an active alternative to driving. Due to the busier roadways in Thunder Bay, our role is also to help make cycling in the city safer. We do that by providing information for cyclists and motorists, and by helping create new policies around bike lanes and dedicated paths.


Cycling, Cyclists and You

Cyclist’s Code of Conduct

Cyclists have a right to be on the road along with motor vehicles. However, they also must follow the same traffic laws as motor vehicles and ride in a responsible and predictable manner. The TBDHU encourages all cyclists to practice cycling etiquette, use common sense and follow the rules of the road.

It’s also important to ride safely. Awareness and consideration for others helps keep our roads safe for all.

Be Prepared

  • Wear a well-fitted, CSA-approved helmet whenever you ride.
  • Ensure bicycles and related equipment are  well maintained.
  • Carry some form of identification whenever you ride.

Be Considerate

  • Follow the rules of the road as is expected of motorists. Stop at stop signs and lights.
  • Know the accepted hand signals and use them.
  • Be predictable. Look ahead of where you are riding, anticipating road hazards that you will need to avoid. Try to ride far enough out from the curb to maintain a straight line and avoid the debris, potholes or storm grates (approximately 1 metre).
  • Ride with traffic. Stay off the sidewalk, which is meant for pedestrians and very young riders.
  • Ride single file. It is illegal to ride side-by-side unless passing another cyclist.
  • Make eye contact with motorists whenever possible. This reminds the motorist that you are a human being with a right to be there, and reduces the risk of accidents.

Motorist Etiquette

Cyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as other vehicles on the road. Though bicycles may be considered to be a slow moving vehicle, special care must be taken when driving near them because any collision could result in serious injury.

Cyclists are not out there just to get in your way! They are commuting and travelling, just like you are.

Here is what motorists can do to avoid an incident with a cyclist:

  • Give the cyclist the room they need. Effective September 1, 2015, all motorists in Ontario must allow at least one metre between your car and the cyclist. Though cyclists normally ride near the right-hand edge of the roadway, they can legally move left to turn left, to pass another bicycle or car, or to avoid hazards in the roadway.
  • Wait to pass if the lane is too narrow to pass the bike safely.
  • After parking at the curb, be sure to look for oncoming vehicles, including bicycles and motorcycles, before opening your door on the traffic side. “Dooring” is not only very dangerous and can result in serious injury for a cyclist, but will cost you a hefty fine and 3 demerit points.
  • Make eye contact. This creates a connection between you and reduces the chance of confusion and an accident.

Bike Lanes

Thunder Bay has installed bike lanes around the city to improve safety for cyclists and to help motorists be aware of where cyclists may be travelling.

A bike lane is a 1.5 metre-wide striped, signed lane marked with a large white bicycle. This lane is restricted to cyclists only. Cars and other motor vehicles are not allowed to travel in this lane and motorists are subject to a fine for driving in this lane, whether or not cyclists are present.  Pedestrians, rollerbladers, skateboarders and strollers are also not allowed to travel in bike lanes.

Cyclists should try to stay in the middle of the lane when travelling. When cycling past parked cars, be aware of opening doors. Cyclists must obey all traffic laws while travelling in bike lanes. When a bike lane ends, continue riding in a safe and predictable manner.

Motorists should avoid bike lanes at all times, whether or not cyclists are present. When turning right, do not enter the bike lane. Instead, signal your intention, turn around the bike lane as if it were a curb and do a shoulder check for cyclists before you make your turn.

Shared Lanes

Shared lanes are similar to bike lanes except that both cyclists and motorists can travel in these lanes. They remind motorists that cyclists may be riding on that road, and that they must slow down when approaching a cyclist and pass with care.


For Further Information

Call the Physical Activity Program: (807) 625-5900

or toll-free 1-888-294-6630

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