A bicycle is a form of transportation, yet it’s also a form of physical exercise and a way to enjoy the outdoors. Sometimes that can lead bicyclists to feel that riding a bike is in a different category than driving a motorized vehicle. However, Nova Scotia laws treat bicycles similarly to motorized vehicles, and it’s important for bicyclists to understand that. Here’s what you need to know.

What Is Nova Scotia’s Law Regarding Bicycles on Sidewalks?

Nova Scotia’s law states that bicyclists belong on the streets, not on sidewalks. They are to share roads with vehicles, not sidewalks with pedestrians. This can be frustrating when bicyclists travel on a congested road while the sidewalk is much more straightforward. The only exception to this is for children aged 16 and younger who ride bikes on sidewalks in public squares, parks, cities, or towns.

What Other Bicycle Laws Should I Be Aware of When Biking in Nova Scotia?

Nova Scotia has a robust set of laws meant to protect bicyclists and everyone they come in contact with while biking, whether motorized vehicles, other bicyclists, and pedestrians, among others.

Here are some of the laws bicyclists should be aware of when biking in Nova Scotia.

  • All bicyclists, regardless of age, must wear a helmet.
  • Cyclists must dismount when entering a crosswalk.
  • Bikes must have a bell or a horn.
  • Bicyclists must always signal turns or lane changes.
  • Bicyclists must ride on the right side of the road with traffic flow and as close to the road’s edge as possible. If there is a bike lane available, they must use that unless it’s obstructed in some way.
  • Bikes must have a front white light and a rear red light or reflector if they’re going to be ridden 30 minutes before sunset or 30 minutes after sunrise.
  • Unless they pass another bicyclist, all bicyclists should stay in a single file.
  • Bicycles are allowed on all Nova Scotia roads unless the road is specifically marked as not allowing bikes.
  • Unless there are specific exceptions, bicyclists must follow the same laws as motor vehicles.

What Are Vehicle Drivers Legally Required to Do Regarding Sharing the Road with Bikes?

Nova Scotia law also holds drivers accountable for how they perform when sharing the road with bikes.

  • Drivers must leave at least one meter of space when passing a bicycle. They’re allowed to cross a yellow line in order to pass a bike safely.
  • Driver must not park motor vehicles in bike lanes.
  • Drivers should avoid driving in bike lanes unless they’re avoiding a left-turning vehicle or a hazard in the road or they’re instructed to do so by law enforcement.

What Are Other Recommendations for Riding a Bike Safely in Nova Scotia?

There are several safety tips that may not be legally required but can increase a bicyclist’s safety when sharing a road with motor vehicles.

  • Wearing bright clothing or clothing with reflective stripes can increase a bicyclist’s visibility to drivers, enabling them to leave a safe amount of space between the vehicle and the bike.
  • Ride a straight path along parked cars. Sometimes bicyclists tend to weave in and out of empty parking spaces, which can make it difficult for drivers to track them.
  • Have rear-view mirrors on your bike. That can help determine when it’s safe to make a turn or change lanes.
  • Bicyclists shouldn’t use turn-only lanes if they’re going straight. That signals to drivers that the cyclist plans to turn, even if they haven’t signaled properly (and turning cyclists should always signal turns, as that’s required by law).

Who Is at Fault if I’m an Accident While Riding My Bike?

Nova Scotia’s contributory negligence laws are applied to accidents, including accidents involving bicycles and motor vehicles. The law states that the fault will be proportioned out depending on how much fault each side had. It’s possible that both parties had some fault, and how much fault is assessed to each affects how much compensation an injured person could receive. You can learn more about Nova Scotia’s contributory negligence laws here.

What Should I Do if I’m in a Bicycle Accident in Nova Scotia?

If you’re physically able, try to get the names and contact information of anyone else involved in the accident as well as any eyewitnesses. (But don’t engage in any discussion of the accident with the other parties involved for reasons discussed below.)

Even if you feel fine, you should see a doctor as soon as possible. There are injuries, some of which are severe, that don’t present symptoms right away. If they’re left untreated, they can worsen dramatically.

Then call NOVA Injury Law at 902-706-5205 to schedule a free case review. Our team of experienced, knowledgeable bicycle accident lawyers can help you work through what is often a complex personal injury case, always looking out for your best interests.

As mentioned above, you shouldn’t have any conversations with the other parties in the accident, and that includes their insurance representatives or lawyers. They’ll want to direct as much of the fault for the accident in your direction to avoid paying out damages. To accomplish that, they could try to get you to say something that could be construed as taking the blame, or they could try to convince you to accept a much lower settlement than you could potentially receive. If they try to contact you, don’t respond, but forward all messages to your lawyer.