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Biking on Quebec Roads: Are You Breaking Any of These 12 Little-Known Rules?

Right near Laurier Metro in Montreal, on the major bike path and cyclist thoroughfare, there’s a bike counter. From June to September of this year, a whopping 450,000 bikes went by. In just a 4 month period! Biking on Quebec Roads is trending!
To put that into perspective, that’s 90,000 more ride bys than 2015. Conclusion? Biking has exploded in popularity, and not just in Montreal. The trend to bike has come with a social consciousness that favours more environmental and less expensive transport choices.
This is great for society, but there’s one caveat… and it’s got to do with Quebec’s laws regarding cyclists that you may not even know!
Every motorist who sets out on Quebec roads must abide by the highway safety code. Failure to do so, of course, results in tickets, fines or even criminal charges in some cases. But it’s not just drivers who need to know all the rules. Cyclists in Quebec must also follow the rules or risk being fined. But there’s one major different between the motorists and cyclists on the road.
Cyclists don’t need a license and so, never had to take “Rules of the Road 101”. And believe it or not, Quebec has a list of rules cyclists must follow that you may not have heard of.

The Top 12 Cycling Rules You Might Not Have Known About

The last thing you want on a pleasant ride, the wind blowing through your hair, is to be stopped by police and ticketed. Before you get on a bike on Quebec roads, make sure you know the rules. Even the most unsuspecting of these rules can land you in trouble as you can’t just feign ignorance of the law to get away with breaking any of them. So we have compiled a list of 10 cycling rules that you probably were unaware of.

1. No Headphones/Earphones

When 5 o’clock hits and you’re ready for a relaxing ride accompanied by your favoutrite tunes, think again. Quebec is the only Canadian jurisdiction where wearing headphones or earphones while riding a bike is illegal. And if you wanted to cut out the noise instead of cranking up some tunes, note that earplugs are banned too.
Quebec made this move as sound (or sound blocking) due to these accessories shielding you from hearing important sounds from the surrounding traffic that can reduce your awareness of what is happening on the road. You might not see a truck behind you driving dangerously, but you could hear it and make sure to get out of the way.
FINE: Wearing earphones, headphones or earplugs while riding a bike will land you a fine of $30 to $60.

2. Carrying a Passenger

Want to double up on a bike for a fun ride à deux? That’s a no-no in Quebec, unless the bike is designed for two people. While there are two seater bikes you can get, when on your mountain bike, racing bike or BMX, just enjoy your rides alone, or with a partner on their own bike.
FINE: Carrying a passenger on a bike not designed for that purpose will earn you a fine of $15 to $30.

3. Riding on Sidewalks

On Quebec roads, cyclists are prohibited from riding on the sidewalks for the safety of pedestrians. When biking, you’ve got to stick to the road or risk being fined.
FINE: Riding a bike on sidewalks will get you a fine of $37.

4. Group Cycling

The Highway Safety Code requires that cyclists riding in a group do so in a single file and that the group does not exceed 15 cyclists. If your group is more than 15, then a new group should be formed to avoid your ride being interrupted by a police visit and fine.
FINE: Group cyclers that are not in a single file or more are riding in a group of more than 15 in number will pay a fine of $15 to $30 each.

5. Riding Between Two Adjacent Lanes

You might want to avoid showboating on the road as cyclists on Quebec roads are prohibited from riding between two lanes of moving traffic. A cyclist must ride on the far right of the road and keep a safe distance from vehicles as much as possible.
FINE: Riding between two lanes of moving vehicles can get you a fine of $37.

6. Poor Braking System

Any bike you take out to the road must have a functional and effective brake system. This can go a long way in preventing accidental clashes with other vehicles and pedestrians, especially in the hilly regions of Montreal. So before you ride out, always check your brakes.
FINE: Cycling with a poor braking system will get you fined from $15 to $30.

7. Riding Against Traffic

To avoid an unpleasant clash with the law, make sure to ride with the traffic. Riding against the flow of traffic, except on roads where the signs explicitly indicate that you can do so, will get you in trouble. A red sign with a white bar above a ‘bicycle excepté’ symbol indicates that cyclists can ride against the flow of traffic on a one way street.
FINE: Riding against traffic will can lead to fines from $15 to $30.

8. Altering a Bicycle’s Serial Number

It is a crime to remove, replace or alter a bicycle’s serial number in any way. Consequences for doing so are a bit more serious. You risk a pretty big fine, along with demerit points. Altering a bicycle’s serial number also can lead to criminal charges or payment of fines, as the case may be.
FINE: Altering a bike’s serial number gets you a fine of between $10 and $100.

9. Drinking Alcohol

When Friday night hits, you and your buds crack out the beers, and then decide to go for a ride on the town, better keep it to walking or take a taxi or Uber. It is illegal to ride a bike under the influence due to the danger you may pose both to yourself and to others. The consequence is a stop by police. Fines and potentially criminal charges if your ride turns sour resulting in accident or injury.
FINE: Riding under the influence gets you a fine of $15 to $30.

10. Underage Riders

To keep the young ones safe and avoid fines, make sure to keep tabs on them. To protect children, Quebec’s Highway Safety Code prohibits youth under the age of 12 from riding a bicycle by themselves on roads with speed limit exceeding 50 km per hour. Young cyclists can do so on their own if the road has a dedicated bicycle lane, or if they are accompanied by an adult.
FINE: Adults will earn demerit points or pay fines depending on the severity of the crime.

11. Riding No Hands

When riding along, the breeze blowing through your hair, it can be tempting to just enjoy and immerse yourself in the moment and strut your stuff by riding hands free. But watch out. Failure to hold onto the handlebars is prohibited on Quebec roads.
FINE: Failing to hold onto the handlebars will get you a fine of $15 to $30.

12. Failing to Signal

Turning? Make sure you signal because it’s the law. Before turning left or right, you must signal your intention with an outstretched arm pointing in that direction. When you’re about to slow down, the rules say you must also signal. In this case, you signal by holding your arm down. And make sure you keep a reasonable distance to ensure adequate visibility by other motorists.
FINE: Failure to give proper signals can lead to fines ranging from $15 to $30.

It Pays to Follow the Rules

According to data from the Ministry of Transport, about 2% of all fatal accidents in Canada involve cyclists who may have breached these rules of the road. Two percent doesn’t seem like much, but with record numbers of cyclists, the risks are too great.
While riding for fun, sport, or just to get from A to B, cyclists have a legal duty to ride safely and follow the rules that have been put in place to prevent accidents and help keep cyclists, pedestrians and motorists safe. The simple act of following the rules can prevent accidents, injuries and even fatalities, while also ensuring you can enjoy your ride without losing money on fines or being slapped saving cyclists some money that would have been spent on paying fines and incurring unnecessary demerit points.