While cycling collisions or crashes are rare, they can happen, and we want you to be prepared. This post will focus on ways to avoid accidents, common collision types, and what you should do if you are in a crash. 

How to increase your safety as a cyclist: 

Be visible

  • Bright colours are great and reflective articles of clothing are even better. You can buy reflective vests or strips to put over your clothing. 
  • Cyclists in Nova Scotia are required to have a white light on the front of their bike and a red light or reflector on the back when cycling at night. Bike lights help illuminate your path and make it easier for cars to see you.

Avoid weaving between lanes and parked cars

  • It may feel natural to weave in and out to stay on the left side of the road if there are parked cars, but this can be dangerous. You want to make sure you stay in a motorist’s sight line. If you are moving around, they might not see you as well.

Keep a consistent speed

  • Staying at a consistent speed helps increase your predictability when cycling.

Stay vigilant

  • Don’t let the size or speed of vehicles intimidate you. You are just as important as anyone else on the road. 
  • Limit any distractions that decrease your reaction time. Listening to music may not be the safest choice when cycling.
  • Keep your guard up and get into the habit of doing regular shoulder checks. Shoulder checks are critical when turning or crossing an interaction, but they can also help you when cycling straight to ensure cars aren’t getting too close to you. Mirrors can be an alternative if you can’t turn your neck as frequently, but they should never completely replace shoulder checks.

Pull over if you have to

  • If you ever feel unsafe, you can, and should, find a place to pull over safely. Pulling over can be a good way to reassess your route or get away from any difficult motorists. 


The three most common types of collisions and how to avoid them


Slow down or stop when entering an intersection and scan your surroundings. Take a good look around and make sure it’s safe for you to proceed. Even if you have the right of way, make sure incoming vehicles are aware of you and be prepared to maneuver around the vehicle if necessary. 


Dooring happens when vehicle doors open and hit oncoming cyclists. It can be difficult to avoid these collisions. When possible, cycle in a bike lane or on a trail. When cycling near parked cars, stay vigilant for vehicles that have just been parked, slow down, and try to keep a few inches of distance between yourself and parked vehicles. 


Avoid right hook collisions by slowing down when entering intersections and remaining aware of your surroundings. It can be difficult for drivers to correctly judge the speed of a cyclist, and they may cut cyclists off when making a right hand turn. Check where you are in relation to nearby vehicles and avoid being in their blind spot. Cycle slightly on the left to avoid a head on collision. 


What to do if you’re in a collision

It’s important to cycle safely to avoid collisions but remember; accidents can always happen. Knowing what to do in case of an emergency is just as important as knowing how to minimize accidents. If you’re part of a collision with a person driving a motor vehicle, remain calm and call 911. Remind the person driving that they must stay at the scene. 


Take photos of:

  • The vehicle & license plate 
  • Your bike and any damage
  • Your injuries (if any)
  • The road where the collision occurred


Get a medical report right away. If police weren’t present, file a police report within 24 hours. Contact your insurance company.

Since 2018, Cycling Nova Scotia has offered Accidental Death and Dismemberment (AD&D) coverage to members on all their rides – whenever and wherever! Members are covered on all rides within Canada: whether training, touring, commuting, or otherwise. 

Sign up for a Cycling Nova Scotia membership today to access insurance coverage for future accidents or collisions at https://bicycle.ns.ca/insurance/ 

Finally, replace your helmet. Helmets must be replaced after an accident. Properly fit a new helmet, and make sure you’re always wearing it when cycling. Remember: Collisions can be serious, so wear protective gear. Helmets are required by law and minimize head injuries. 

We hope you feel more confident about cycling safety. Want to learn more? Consider taking a CAN-BIKE course to further your skills and knowledge. Don’t forget to check back soon for more tips on how to be safe. Follow us on Instagram and Facebook for our weekly #SafetySaturday posts!