Cycling Superstar #3 – Mike McConnell

Did you know that, according to the Highway Traffic Act, bicycles are considered vehicles and are permitted on all roads in Ontario except the 400 series highways? Lately, there has been some debate among road users about whether cyclists are required to follow the same rules of the road as other motor vehicles. On July 12th, 2016, the Globe and Mail published an article titled “Do cyclists have to follow the same rules as motorists in Ontario?” The article revealed that, with the exception of the one-metre passing rule, cyclists must follow all the same rules of the road that motorists do, or receive fines for offences.

Smart Commute MRH’s client network consists of several planners and engineers well versed in cycling policies and rules; many are cyclists who demonstrate their understanding of these policies by using safe cycling techniques during their commutes. Smart Commute MRH strongly supports cycling education and safety awareness by distributing cycling resources at outreach events, promoting York Regional Police and Roadwatch at our Bike to Work Day group ride, and holding safe cycling workshops with certified instructors at our Markham and Richmond Hill workplaces.

During Bike Month, York Region and Smart Commute MRH invited Cycle Toronto to present safe cycling tips to employees at LEA Consulting, a Silver Smart Commute workplace. One of the participants in the workshop was Mike McConnell, a Smart Commute MRH Ambassador and avid cyclist. Mike is involved in many active transportation initiatives at LEA Consulting and notes that the most common obstacles to cycling to work are distance and inadequate cycling infrastructure; yet many employees have expressed an interest in cycling to work, which Mike views as an opportunity to change the cycling culture in the workplace.

Mike is selected as our Cycling Superstar for his dedication to ensuring his safety and following the rules of the road when cycling to work. He begins his commute at Don Mills Road and Finch Avenue and travels north to Highway 7, where he cycles east in the bike lanes to LEA Consulting’s Markham office. He chooses this route because the “two lanes in each direction along Don Mills allow vehicles to provide comfortable passing space for both the drivers and myself as a cyclist.” 

Mike’s other safe cycling practices include: 

- Wearing a helmet and sunglasses, and using a bike that is equipped with a speedometer, bell, rain guards, and properly inflated tires, which “allow me to safely ride in most weather conditions.”;

- Using proactive decision-making and active communication with other road users, which is “especially important for conflicting right turning vehicles. During these instances, a cyclist must assume the worst and expect a conflict by being attentive and prepared to apply the brakes.” ;

- Performing hand signals and shoulder checks as a communicative tool with other users of the corridor. Mike describes an instance where he thoroughly communicated with a driver and avoided a potential collision: “I was travelling southbound on Don Mills Road wherein a northbound driver was making a left turn, and I was the driver’s only conflict. To ensure the driver saw me, I provided a quick wave, which the driver returned.”

Mike’s actions may seem minimal, but they are essential in demonstrating to other road users that cyclists understand that they must share the road and take their safety (and the safety of others) very seriously. Mike offers some advice for anyone who is interested in cycling to work: “Educate yourself on the proper procedures and your route for the trip. Know how much space you are permitted on the road and what actions to take during typical cycling solutions. Knowing these procedures leads to confidence, which mitigates potential conflicts or incidents.”

For safe cycling tips and related information, please see:

Canadian Automobile Association’s Bike Safety Page
CAN Bike Course Schedule
York Region’s Cycling Page