Bicycle Rider: Pedestrian or Driver? | Diamond & Diamond

Bicycle Rider: Pedestrian or Driver?

Whenever you have a question about a certain law and how it works, it is best to contact a qualified, experienced attorney in your area specializing in the field you’re curious about. Laws quickly change, and local applications vary from state to state. Hence, the answers provided in this article are general, and only a lawyer specializing in the field of cycling can answer your questions accurately.

So, is a cyclist a pedestrian or driver? – This question doesn’t really have a clear answer. The classification of a cyclist differs from state to state and even from city to city since there are states where cyclists aren’t allowed on roads but are allowed on the sidewalk and vice versa.

In cities where bicycle riders are prohibited from riding on a sidewalk, the rider, which is required to ride on the road, would be considered a driver by law. Similarly, if the rider has the right to ride on the sidewalk, then drivers are required to yield to them as if they were pedestrian traffic.

Common Rules for Bicycle Riders

Regardless of how the law classifies a cyclist, they would still have to follow the basic bicycle safety laws to ensure that they don’t get themselves in an accident. Here are some of the most common laws that a cyclist should follow.


  • Cyclists are required to follow traffic signs and traffic lights at all times. For example, they must also stop at a red light or stop sign, even if the way is clear.
  • Cyclists must wait for the light to turn green before riding their bikes. However, there are instances where a cyclist is allowed to continue. Some of these are:
    • when they stop and ensure that they can proceed without danger
    • when they let pedestrians in the intersection go first
    • when they move at a safe and reasonable speed


  • As soon as a pedestrian enters the crosswalk, you should stop and let them pass.
  • At an intersection, yield the right of way to pedestrians, vehicles, and other cyclists with priority.
  • Whenever you see a school bus or minibus with its flashing red lights, stop at least 5 meters away from them. Do not proceed until the red lights are off and the stop sign is retracted.


  • Ride as close as possible to the right side of a road and in the same direction as traffic while considering the condition of the road and the risk of doors opening.
  • As a cyclist, you can leave this position:
    • to make a left turn
  • if they are authorized to ride against traffic
  • in case of necessity
  • On the shoulder, ride in the same direction as traffic or the direction indicated by traffic signs.


  • If you’re planning to change lanes, cross the road, or make an emergency stop, make sure to signal your intentions over a sufficient distance and without interruptions. This is to make sure that other drivers have seen you and are safe to perform the action.


  • In a group, ride in a single file (not side by side):
    • a group can be made up of 15 cyclists, maximum
    • if there are more than 15 cyclists, form a new group


Cyclists must ride astride the bicycle (one leg on each side) and hold the handlebars.

Need more tips for safe cycling? Check out this article.

Have you been a victim of an accident while cycling? Contact Diamond and Diamond Lawyers today to get the assistance you need in winning your bicycle accident case.

Prohibitions for Cyclists

To prevent bicycle accidents, the Highway Safety Code prohibits cyclists from riding:

  • on highways and their access and exit ramps
  • against the flow of traffic, unless signs indicate otherwise or in case of necessity
  • on sidewalks, except in case of need or where directed or authorized to do so by a sign or signal. In such a case, the cyclist must ride at a low speed and give pedestrians the right of way.
  • between two lanes of moving vehicles, unless the right lane is reserved for right turns
  • while wearing earphones or headphones that cover one or both ears
  • while using a portable electronic device, handheld or not
  • while viewing information displayed on a display screen, unless all of the following conditions are met:
    • the information is relevant to riding or related to the operation of the bicycle’s usual equipment
    • the screen is integrated into the bike or mounted on a bracket
    • The screen is positioned in such a way that the cyclist can operate and consult it easily
  • while performing any action that can distract the cyclist from safely riding the bicycle
  • a bicycle with a faulty brake system

It is also prohibited:

  • to carry a passenger, except if the bike is equipped with a seat designed for that purpose
  • to ride while carrying a passenger, animal, or object that obstructs vision or interferes with the proper handling of the bicycle
  • to drink alcohol while riding a bicycle
  • to use drugs, except for over-the-counter medications or medications other than cannabis that have been prescribed by an authorized professional

pro tip icon

Pro Tip

Be alert at intersections and when changing lanes

FAQs About Bicycle Riders

What are the basic safety equipment for bicycle riders?

The basic safety equipment for cyclists include:

  • helmet
  • reflective tape, gear, and accessories
  • tire pump, tire levers, patch kit, and spare tube
  • headlights, and a red rear reflector
  • knee and elbow pads
  • bicycling gloves
  • bell or horn
  • shatter-resistant eyewear

What are sharrows?

Sharrows are pavement markings that improve cycling safety on streets that are too narrow for traditional bike lanes. These markings indicate to drivers that the road is a preferred bicycle route and that they should be prepared to share the road with cyclists.

Is it illegal to park and stop in or near bike lanes?

Yes. It is illegal for vehicles to stop and park in or near bike lanes. If a violator has been caught, he/ she may be fined.

Are kiddie bikes allowed on Toronto sidewalks?

Yes. In fact, Toronto City Council has adopted a staff report recommending that Toronto’s sidewalk cycling bylaw shall stipulate “no person aged 14 and older may ride a bicycle on a sidewalk”. The intent of this bylaw is to allow young children to cycle on the sidewalk while they learn to ride.

Are kick scooter riders pedestrians or drivers?

Kick scooter riders have to follow the same rules as cyclists. If there is a bike lane for cyclists on the road, the scooter riders must use it. Kick-scooters should be ridden on the pavement or footpath but do not have right of way on the pavement or footpath. Scooter-riders should always be prepared to stop or slow down to give way to pedestrians.

Are skateboarders pedestrians or drivers?

Since skateboard riders are using a conveyance propelled by human power, they are considered as pedestrians. it is completely legal for a person to ride their board through a crosswalk. In Ontario, no person shall ride on or operate a skateboard on a highway unless the person is wearing a helmet that complies with the regulations and the chin strap of the helmet is securely fastened under the chin.

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