Whether you’re new to the area or have lived in Hamilton for a while and are just now considering riding a bike, you may wonder how safe bicycling is in the city. Hamilton is known for its numerous bicycle trails and impressive infrastructure designed to make bicycling on roadways safer. 

The city’s infrastructure and its bicycling safety record go hand-in-hand. Thanks to features designed to enhance rider safety, the city boasts a bicycle fatality number that is lower than the average number in Ontario. Here is what you need to know about bicycle safety in Hamilton, ON, including how to avoid bike accidents.

Features of Hamilton’s Infrastructure For Bicyclists

There are certain key features on the roads in Hamilton that bicyclists should know about. These features include:

Road Markings

Roads that double as bike routes will have a pavement marking with a bicycle symbol on them. If the symbol is on the right-hand side of the road, this indicates that the road is wide enough for a bicyclist and a car to safely ride side by side. If the marking is down the middle of the lane, bicyclists and motorists should ride in single file.

Bike Boxes At Intersections

Riders can find designated spots at intersections controlled by red lights that allow them to wait in front of other traffic before proceeding. Motorists must stop behind these bike boxes. 

The boxes are designed to allow bicyclists to move through the intersection safely and ahead of motor vehicle traffic.

Contraflow Bike Lanes

Some one-way streets feature two bicycle lanes — one proceeding in each direction. This allows for a smoother, safer flow of bicycle traffic and permits bicyclists to use a one-way street as they would any other two-way road.


Additionally, some intersections have a designated space next to crosswalks so that bicyclists can cross the intersection without having to dismount from their bicycles. Some of these crossrides also come equipped with crossing signals dedicated to bicyclists.

Bicycle Safety Statistics in Canada

Bicycling continues to increase in popularity, both in Hamilton and across Canada in general. The Canadian Automobile Association (CAA) reported that between 1996 and 2016, the number of Canadians who named bicycling as their primary mode of commuting doubled. 

The CAA also found that Canadians living in urban centers like Hamilton are about three times more likely to commute via bicycle than their American counterparts. One might think that communities with a larger population of citizens who bike would also see a greater number of bicycle accidents. However, according to the CAA, this is generally not true. 

Instead, cities with a greater number of bicyclists actually tend to experience fewer bicycle accidents. This is likely due to these communities’ greater investments in bicycling infrastructure.

Nonetheless, across Canada, collisions involving bicyclists still occur. About 74 individuals are killed in bicycling accidents each year. The CAA reports that nearly three out of four of these accidents involve a wreck between a bicycle and a motor vehicle. The majority of injury and fatal bicycle accidents in Canada happen during rush hour, between 4:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.

Hamilton Bicycle Safety Statistics

Fortunately, Hamilton sees very few fatal and injury bicycle accidents. From 2021 to 2022, the total number of bicycle accidents decreased from 139 to 128, one of the lowest annual totals in the past ten years. Since 2018, the number of bicycling accidents has generally trended downward with each year. 

There was only one fatal bike crash in 2022. This single fatality puts Hamilton’s bicycle fatality numbers at 1.1% lower than Ontario’s average.

And with the city’s infrastructure designed to make cycling safer, it is no wonder that People for Bikes awarded Hamilton a network score of 52. This is nearly double the average city score of 27. Out of all 1,733 cities ranked by People for Bikes, Hamilton was ranked 182.

Important Bike Safety Laws in Hamilton

Bicyclist safety depends in large part on both bicyclists and motor vehicle drivers obeying the laws pertaining to safe cycling. These laws include:

Laws For Bicyclists

Every bicycle rider under the age of 18 must wear a properly fitted and approved helmet while riding their bike. While not legally required, riders who are over the age of 18 should also consider wearing a helmet. By choosing to wear a bicycle helmet anytime you ride your bike, you reduce your risk of sustaining a serious head injury or other fatal injury.

While riding, remember to stay in designated bike lanes when they are available. If no bike lane is available, ride on the roadway as far to the right as possible. You are also permitted to ride on any one of Hamilton’s several multi-use paths. However, you are not allowed to ride a bicycle on the sidewalk.

You will also want to make sure to obey all other traffic laws, especially those pertaining to the right of way. The CAA’s statistics revealed that approximately 30% of bicyclist fatalities throughout Canada were the result of traffic safety law violations.

Safety Rules For Motorists

Drivers of all motor vehicles should always remain alert for bicyclists on the road. When passing a bicyclist, motorists must allow at least one meter, or about three feet, of clearance. Failing to do so can lead to a ticket and a fine. Motorists should give extra clearance to riders who are children.

Like many cities throughout Canada, Hamilton uses bike lanes on some of its roadways. You should not block a bike lane for any purpose. Doing so can cause bicyclists to enter the roadway where they are at a greater risk of being struck by a motorist. Blocking a bicycle lane is also a traffic offense and carries a fine with it.

Bicycling Safely in Hamilton, Ontario

While accidents involving bicyclists continue to happen in Hamilton, their numbers have been declining for several years. Bicyclists and motorists in Hamilton should continue to follow the law and take advantage of the bike paths and other safety features available to keep riding a bicycle in the city both enjoyable and safe.