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Sharing the road

A bicycle is a vehicle and must be treated the same as buses, large trucks, motorcycles and cars. This means that cyclists need to operate their bicycles like other vehicles on the road. Motorists must also respect a cyclist's right to ride on the street. Here are some tips to make everyone's road experience safer and more enjoyable.

Share the Road [ PDF 349 KB ]


Sharing with Motorists

  • Follow the rules of the road at all times.
  • Be bright at night! Use a headlight, taillight, reflectors and light-coloured or retro-reflective clothing so motorists can see you.
  • Motorists may not anticipate a cyclist, so ride defensively.
  • Never compromise your safety for the convenience of a motorist.
  • Where possible, ride in a straight line and avoid dodging between parked cars, into bus bays or around obstacles.
  • Know where you are going and look ahead to position yourself in the correct lane. Avoid being in a "right turn only" lane if you plan to proceed straight through an intersection.

Sharing with Pedestrians

  • Stay off sidewalks.
  • Yield to pedestrians at crossings.
  • Stay out of crosswalks when waiting at intersections - stopping here forces pedestrians into traffic.
  • Watch for pedestrians when pulling into or out of driveways, parking lots or anywhere you have to ride across a sidewalk.
  • Keep an eye out for pedestrians when turning, especially on one-way streets. While vehicles may only travel in one direction, pedestrians cross both ways.
  • Be especially careful where children might be walking - near schools, day cares and pathways.
  • Watch for pedestrians on roads that don't have sidewalks. They should be walking on the shoulder facing on-coming traffic.

Sharing with Buses

  • Avoid riding in the blind spots at the sides and rear of the bus where the operator cannot see you. If you can't see the operator's eyes in the bus's mirror, she or he can't see you.
  • Stay well back and to the left side of the bus and remember that buses make frequent stops.
  • Always pass a bus on the left side. Don't get trapped between the bus and the curb.
  • Allow plenty of room when passing a bus, and never race.
  • Avoid repeat passes ('leap-frogging').
  • Stay out of bus bays when cycling.
  • On Albert and Slater Streets ride in the far left lane to reduce conflict with turning vehicles. To make a right turn, signal and change lanes one at a time.

Sharing with Trucks

  • When stopping behind a truck, remember that it may need space to roll back when it starts up again, especially on a hill.
  • See and be seen: trucks have large blind spots on both sides, directly behind and in front. Stay away from these areas as much as possible. If you're cycling behind a truck and you can't see one of its side-view mirrors, the truck driver can't see you.
  • Give turning trucks lots of room. Never pull up into the open space on a truck's side if the driver has signalled a turn because the driver may be setting up or completing a turn.
  • The size of the truck will directly affect the size of the blind spots, length of time it takes to stop, and the amount of space needed for turns.


  • Follow the rules of the road at all times.
  • Bicycles are considered vehicles under the Highway Traffic Act, so treat them as you would any other vehicle on the road.
  • Cyclists generally ride in the right-most through lane, about one metre from the curb or parked cars.
  • People who ride bicycles are not obligated to use bike lanes or pathways, and are entitled to cycle on all roads in Ottawa except the Transitway, Highways 416, 417 and Regional Road 174 (to Orléans).
  • Motorists are prohibited from driving or parking in all designated bicycle lanes.
  • When passing a cyclist, the Highway Traffic Act requires that you leave a safe distance between your car and the bicycle. Extra passing distance should be given when slippery road conditions exist.
  • Cyclists are entitled to ride in the centre of a lane when they feel it is too narrow for a motor vehicle to pass them, or if they feel their safety is compromised.
  • Slow down or avoid puddles when passing cyclists.
  • Cyclists can ride on either the paved road, paved shoulder or unpaved shoulder in rural areas.
  • Drivers of larger vehicles should be cautious of blasting a cyclist with winds when passing, especially on dusty roads.

As a reminder about sharing the road, you can watch the following videos: You see a cyclist, I see my daughterYou see a cyclist, I see my husband, You see a cyclist, I see my best friend and You see a cyclist, I see my grandpa.


Effective October 3, 2009, conventional style and scooter-style e-bikes that meet the definition of a power-assisted bicycle, as described above, are permitted on roads and highways where conventional bicycles are currently allowed. They must follow the same rules of the road as set out in the Highway Traffic Act (HTA) that currently apply to cyclists, with some exceptions.

For use in the Province of Ontario, a power-assisted bicycle, or e-bike, is a bicycle that:

  • Has a maximum weight of 120 kg (includes the weight of bike and battery)
  • Has wheels with a diameter of at least 350 mm and width of at least 35 mm
  • Meets the federal definition of a power-assisted bicycle:
  • Has steering handlebars and is equipped with pedals
    • Is designed to travel on not more than three wheels in contact with the ground
    • Is capable of being propelled by muscular power
    • Has one or more electric motors that have, singly or in combination, the following characteristics:
    • It has a total continuous power output rating, measured at the shaft of each motor, of 500 W or less
      • If it is engaged by the use of muscular power, power assistance immediately ceases when the muscular power ceases
      • If it is engaged by the use of an accelerator controller, power assistance immediately ceases when the brakes are applied
      • It is incapable of providing further assistance when the bicycle attains a speed of 32 km/h on level ground
      • Bears a label that is permanently affixed by the manufacturer and appears in a conspicuous location stating, in both official languages, that the vehicle is a power-assisted bicycle as defined federally
      • Has one of the following safety features, an enabling mechanism to turn the electric motor on and off that is separate from the accelerator controller and fitted in such a manner that it is operable by the driver, or a mechanism that prevents the motor from being engaged before the bicycle attains 3 km/hr.

Do all e-bikes look like bicycles?

E-bikes may resemble conventional bicycles, or resemble scooters and limited-speed motorcycles as illustrated.

Effective October 3, 2009, conventional style and scooter-style e-bikes that meet the definition of a power-assisted bicycle, as described above, are permitted on roads and highways where conventional bicycles are currently allowed. They must follow the same rules of the road as set out in the Highway Traffic Act (HTA) that currently apply to cyclists, with some exceptions.

Red electric bike with visible battery pack

On what roads can an e-bike travel?

E-bikes are allowed to travel anywhere bicycles are permitted to travel. Any municipal by-law prohibiting bicycles from highways under their jurisdiction also apply to e-bikes. Municipalities may also pass by-laws specific to e-bikes that prohibit them from municipal roads, sidewalks, bike paths, bike trails, and bike lanes under their jurisdiction.

E-bikes, like bicycles, are not allowed on controlled-access highways such as 400 series highways, the Queen Elizabeth Way, the Queensway in Ottawa or the Kitchener-Waterloo Expressway, or on municipal roads, including sidewalks where bicycles are banned under municipal by-laws.

Pink scooter style electric bike with seat and foot-rest

Cycling education programs

Become more comfortable and confident on multi-use pathways, cycle tracks and the road, learning assertive cycling skills, traffic analysis, general bicycle maintenance, route planning and more. The City's cycling programs are conducted by certified Instructors. Our programs are oriented toward recreational and utilitarian cycling.

Got a Bike Club? Sign your group up for a lesson.

See you on the road the pathways and the cycle tracks!


Cycling education courses for children

Bike RODEO – ages 6 to 10 – 2 hours (by community request)

City of Ottawa Bike Rodeos are offered to schools and community groups free of charge by the City of Ottawa Mobile Cycle Education Team. A COVID-modified Bike Rodeo is an interactive bicycle skills and safety event for children from ages 6 to 10. Essential bicycle handling and traffic skills for young cyclists in a fun festival type atmosphere. Topics include helmet fitting, bicycle maintenance, handling, signalling, gears, braking, avoiding road hazards and more. Participants must know how to ride.

Learn to Ride Private Lessons – ages 6 and up

For children and youth who cannot ride a bike. Our COVID-modified Learn to Ride lessons will have adults and children riding confidently and safely in a very short time. Participants will learn to balance, start, stop and turn. 1-hour sessions are offered on a one to one basis. Participants must have a bicycle and helmet. Instructors will meet you at your local school parking lot.

Cycling education courses for adults

Adult Learn to Ride Private Lesson – 1 hour

For adults who cannot ride a bike. Learn to balance, start, stop and turn. One session, on a one-to-one basis. You must have a bicycle and helmet.

Signs and markings

Bicycle route

The bicycle route sign indicates those streets that form a part of the Bicycle Route Network. These streets are shown on the Ottawa Cycling Map.

Sign indicating a bicycle 'route'

Bicycle lane

Bicycle lanes are marked with a solid white line, typically 1.5 to 2.0 metres from the curb or edge of road. Bicycle symbols are painted at regular intervals to indicate that these lanes are for use by cyclists.

Cyclist in bicycle lane

Reserved bicycle lane

Reserved lane signs indicate that lanes are reserved for use by specific vehicles such as buses, taxis, high-occupancy vehicles and bicycles.

Sign indicating location of reserved bicycle lane

Contra-flow bicycle lane

On streets with contra-flow bicycle lanes, cyclists are permitted to travel in both directions while motorists are restricted to one direction only. Cyclists travelling with the flow of motor vehicle traffic should ride on the right-hand side of the street. Cyclists riding in the opposite direction (or 'contra-flow') must use the designated lane provided.

Sign indicating lane cyclist must use to ride in oppostite direction of traffic

Bicycle detour

Bicycle detour signs indicate an alternate route for bicycles where construction activities require closure of the usual bicycle route.

Sign indicating directions for alterate bicycle route

Bicycle parking

Look for the bicycle parking sign to indicate where bicycle racks or supervised bicycle parking may be found.

Sign indicating direction of bicycle parking

Bicycles excepted

This tab is typically found with signs whose purpose is to restrict the movements of motor vehicles. By excepting bicycles, the travel environment for cyclists is improved.

Sign indicating 'bicycles excepted'

Dismount and walk

In certain locations, cyclists are encouraged to act as pedestrians and should dismount and walk their bicycles. Please respect these signs.

Sign showing a cyclist walking their bicycle

Motorized vehicle passing prohibited

This sign shows where motorists must not overtake a cyclist within a specified zone.

Sign warning motorized vehicles 'do not pass bicycles' in this area

Bicycle crossing ahead

This sign indicates to motorists that they are approaching a location where bicycles may be crossing the road.

Diamond sign warning of a bicycle crossing ahead

Share the road

Motorists are reminded to provide adequate space for cyclists and to use extra caution where these signs are posted. Motorists must always share the road, whether these signs are displayed or not.

Sign indicating cyclists and motor vehicles should 'share the road'

Three yellow dots

These three dots are painted at intersections and indicate the most responsive part of a metal-detecting loop embedded in the pavement. This loop senses when a vehicle, including a bicycle, is stopped and changes the signal from red to green.

Intersection with dots on pavement

Cycling prohibited

Riding your bicycle may be prohibited on certain roadways, such as 416, 417 and regional road 174 (to Orléans) and the Transitway.

Sign indicating cycling prohibited using prohibition circle over bicycle

Cycling and the law


The law requires every operator of a vehicle to identify him- or herself to the other driver and to report the collision to the police if there are injuries or damages in excess of $1,000.

If you are involved in a collision:

  • Give your name, address and phone number to the other driver(s).
  • Get the other driver(s) name, address, phone number, vehicle particulars and insurance company and policy number.
  • Call the police if there are injuries.
  • Settle damages between yourselves, but only if damages are minor (less than $1,000). Keep in mind that “no fault” insurance in Ontario means you can't make a claim against the other driver’s insurance, but you can still sue the driver personally.
  • Call the police if the damages exceed $1,000. The police may ask you to come to the station to make a report. Explain that getting to the nearest station may not be feasible because you are on a bicycle.
  • Obtain names of any witnesses that may be available. If anyone has stopped to help at the collision, ask for their name(s) and telephone number(s).
  • Write out a short paragraph describing what happened if the police will not be responding to the scene. Have everyone involved sign it. Keep this for future reference.

Avoid getting into a collision by taking a CAN BIKE course.


According to the Highway Traffic Act, your bicycle must be equipped with:

  • A bell or horn in good working order
  • At least one braking system on the rear wheel capable of skidding that wheel on dry, level pavement
  • A white front light (visible from a distance of at least 150 metres)
  • A red rear light or red rear reflector
  • Two strips of white reflective tape on front forks (each strip to be 125mm by 25mm)
  • Two strips of red reflective tape on rear forks

These lighting requirements are mandatory if you are riding between half an hour before sunset and half an hour after sunrise, or anytime visibility has been reduced to the point where you cannot see 150m ahead.

Electric bikes (e-bikes) that physically resemble traditional bikes are permitted on City of Ottawa bike paths. An electric bicycle is a bicycle that is powered with an electric motor. It uses rechargeable batteries and can travel up to 24 to 32 kilometres per hour.

Scooter type power assisted devices and bicycles with a non conventional appearance are NOT permitted on the pathways because they tend to be heavier and therefore have an increased risk to health and safety in the event of a collision.

These rules do not apply to mobility devices such as powered wheelchairs, three wheel electric scooters and four wheel electric scooters.


Bicycle helmets must be worn by all cyclists under the age of 18. Look for the CSA or CPSC certification in the helmet before you buy or wear it.

  • To provide maximum protection, the helmet should fit level and square on the head, and the front should cover the forehead.
  • It should sit snugly on and not slip when the head is moved around, even before the chin strap is fastened.
  • The straps should be adjusted to meet just below the ear, and fastened comfortably. For more information, contact Ottawa Public Health Information at 613-580-6744.

Rules of the pathways

Bicycles are permitted on mixed-use pathways, but cyclists should follow these guidelines:

  • Keep to the right of the yellow centre line (where one exists)
  • Pass other users only when it is safe to do so
  • Use your bell or voice to warn others when you are passing e.g., "Passing on your left!"
  • Ride at a suitable speed for a mixed-use pathway (recommended speed of no more than 20 km/hr)
  • Be cautious at night, especially along pathways that are not lit. Ride more slowly, especially around dark curves, and stay visible by dressing brightly and using bicycle lights.

Rules of the road

Cyclists must identify themselves when stopped by police for a contravention of the Highway Traffic Act or municipal by-law regulating traffic. You just need to provide your correct name and address.

Cycling on the sidewalk is prohibited by the City of Ottawa Traffic and Parking By-law except where it is permitted by official or authorized signs.

Please refer to the Ministry of Transportation Ontario site for updates to the Highway Traffic Act including the 1 metre passing law and new fines and penalties for dooring.

Cyclists who frequently ride in Québec should become familiar with the details of the Code de la sécurité routière from the Québec Ministry of Transport.

Riding techniques for poor weather conditions

Seventy percent of winter cyclists reported never sustaining an injury – or even a bruise. If you're properly dressed and riding cautiously, winter cycling is a very safe and practical way to commute for most of the year.

In poor weather conditions, you should be extra attentive on the road. A little extra caution goes a long way to staying safe. On days with heavy snow or freezing rain, consider alternate means of transportation.


Winter cycling – especially after snow has fallen – isn’t the same as cycling during warmer months. Use these tips to keep safe:

  • Roads tend to be a bit narrower due to snow banks Ride in the middle lane when necessary, which will prevent motorists from passing you too closely.
  • Avoid patches of ice and snowdrifts at all times.
  • Ride a bit more slowly to allow for maximum traction. It is also wise to cycle slowly since drivers do not expect to have to contend with cyclists in the colder weather.
  • Take curves at a slower pace and avoid leaning with the bicycle. Try to keep the bike perpendicular to the ground at all times for maximum traction.


Winter cycling requires special braking technique:

  • Avoid over-braking on slippery surfaces and keep your brakes properly greased to prevent them from icing up..
  • Test your brakes often and make the adjustments when needed. 
  • If you are having trouble using your brakes on a particular day, you can try the following technique to achieve better results:
    • Position your pedals in the 6- and 12-o'clock position.
    • Stand up, one foot on the 6-o'clock pedal, the other one on the ground in front of the 12-o'clock pedal (skidding a foot on the ground stabilizes the bike).
    • Be sure to make contact with the ground with your heel first.

When braking in the rain (or anytime your rims are wet):

  • Remember that the first few revolutions will only succeed in drying the rims and pads of your bike; be sure to allow yourself more stopping distance.
  • Pump your brakes to help the rims and pads dry off more quickly.
  • Avoid painted line or steel surfaces, as these are the most slippery part of the road when wet.
  • Keep your tires slightly under-inflated to increase contact with the road and therefore, give you more control.
  • Avoid riding through deep puddles that may be concealing potholes and other hazards.
  • Avoid leaves, mud and other material that may be very slippery in wet weather.
  • Ride in the tracks of the motor vehicles in front of you. This can give you a drier surface and better traction.

Reporting Hazards

Potholes and other hazards in the road surface can be problematic for all road users. Bicycles are more susceptible than motor vehicles to irregularities in pavement conditions, and riding into or swerving to avoid a hazard increases the risk of injury.

The City responds to thousands of requests to repair potholes every year and residents can use Service Ottawa to report road surface hazards such as this. Service Ottawa allows residents to notify the City of cycling hazards that apply to roads and multi-use pathways. Some of the Service Ottawa categories that may assist cyclists in reporting hazards include: potholes, road repair needed, manhole cover problems, street lighting, debris and sidewalk and path maintenance.

You may also report a vehicle parked in bike lanes.

You can as well notify the City of these hazards by dialling 3-1-1 or visiting your local Client Service Centre.

Bike Maps

Did you have a near miss on your bike to work today?  is a web map where you can contribute to a safer cycling environment by reporting cycling incidents, including: collisions, near misses, hazards, or thefts. Only a third of cycling collisions are collected officially, leaving the vast majority of incidents unreported. Logging an incident with is anonymous and only takes a minute or two using either a web browser or the free mobile app (android or iOS devices). You can also create a riding area on the website to receive alerts of new reports.

The information collected from cyclists in the City of Ottawa will assist staff with identifying locations that may require engineering, education or enforcement campaigns. is a research project that began in 2014 at the University of Victoria. Since then they have received over 3200 incident reports worldwide. Funding from the Public Health Agency of Canada has enabled expansion to other Canadian cities such as Edmonton and Ottawa. The initiative is supported by the Safer Roads Ottawa program and its partners. welcomes all feedback and interest in the project. Get in touch by email, on twitter @BikeMapsTeam, or through Facebook (/

Bike repair stations

Instructional videos

Changing Tire
*Guitar strumming*

How to change a tire

Place seat onto stand
Remove wheel from bicycle
Deflate the tube by pushing valve
Break the seal between the tire bead and the rim
Use the leaver to pull tire bead over the rim
Slide lever around the wheel
Remove the tube and hang safety off the ground
Remove tire, and inspect tire and wheel for debris and damage
Re-mount one tire bead mount tube at valve hole
Tuck the tube into the tire
Starting at the valve stem mount the other bead hook
Apply pressure evenly with both hands around to the opposite side of the valve stem inflate your tire (see “how to pump a tire” video)
Remount wheel into frame
Patching Tire
*Guitar strumming*

How to patch a tire

Before you watch this:

complete steps 1 to 7 of “how to change a tire”
Inflate tube as full as possible (see ‘How to pump a tire’ video)
Maneuver tube to listen and feel for air escaping
Identify the puncture and circle it with a marker
Open your patch kit
Choose the sandpaper, sand an area larger than the patch, until darker
Apply glue
Spread glue to a larger area than the patch
Wait 3-5 min for glue to dry
Test by touching edge (glue should be tacky)
Select patch from the kit
Firmly place the patch
Roll finger to make sure the full surface area is covered
Now, refer back to ‘how to change a tire’ at the appropriate step:

If the tire may be damaged, proceed to Step 8. Otherwise, go to step 9.
Perform a visual inspection before riding
Pumping Tire
*Guitar strumming*

How to pump a tire

Remove valve cap
Presta valve and Schrader valve
Loosen Presta valve and press to release air
Unscrew Schrader cap, and place pump chuck
Place the correct style of pump chuck onto the valve and lock into place.
Note: there are 2 different slots in the pump head depending on which type of valve you have
Pump and monitor the gauge.
Inflate to recommended PSI, and defer to lower range on tire
Close lever to unlock
Screw in Presta valve, install valve cap and tighten lock ring
Preform a final visual inspection before riding 
Troubleshooting the pump:  

*guitar strumming*

How to avoid blind spots

A vehicle blind spot is the area around the vehicle that the driver cannot see, whether through the rear-view mirrors, backup camera or by doing a shoulder check. If you are in the blind spot, the driver simply cannot see you. The larger the vehicle, the larger the blind spots.

It’s essential that smaller, more vulnerable road users – pedestrians, cyclists, e-scooter riders and motorcyclists – know where blind spots are so they can stay out of them.

For example, when a heavy truck is stopped at an intersection, any smaller road user and even a small vehicle beside it are invisible to the driver. Stay in front or at the rear of the truck where you are visible. The truck driver should stay back to see these road users through the front windshield.

These graphics show the blind spots (in red) and the safe zones (in green) around a heavy vehicle.

Safer Roads Ottawa attends in-person events that include demonstrations of vehicle blind spots. To see a schedule of events, visit the Upcoming events webpage.

You can also visit the Stay safe, stay back website, from the Share the Road Cycling Coalition.