What Happens When a Cyclist Gets a Traffic Ticket?

  • Cyclists can be ticketed for all the same reasons as a driver if not following traffic laws.
  • A traffic ticket while cycling should specify it was received while on a bike and not while operating a motor vehicle.
  • A traffic ticket while cycling should not come with demerit points or higher auto insurance rates.

As more people take to their bicycles, some cyclists may be surprised to learn that they can be ticketed for traffic offences, just like drivers, and face the same fines.

Another cycling season is well underway, and due to COVID, there’s a bike boom as more people turn to cycling as a means of transportation and recreation. With more people taking to the roads on two wheels, some may be surprised to learn that they can earn a ticket for not following traffic laws, much in the same way they could if they were driving a car.

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A bicycle is a vehicle

Cyclists do not need to register or plate their bicycle, and they don't have to have a licence or auto insurance. However, under Ontario's Highway Traffic Act, a bicycle is a vehicle like a car, truck or motorcycle. As a result, riders must heed the same rules of the road and some laws that are specific to bikes — or risk getting pulled over and fined.

What types of tickets can a cyclist get?

In general, any ticket a driver can get under Ontario's Highway Traffic Act, a cyclist can get too. A cyclist can be ticketed for failing to stop at a red light or stop sign, going the wrong way on a one-way street, failing to signal, failing to stop for a school bus, and even careless, to name just a few examples. The fines are essentially the same as well: whether on a bike or in a car, you'll have to pay the set fine, plus the victim fine surcharge and court cost too. For example, an $85 set fine for disobeying a stop sign will cost you around $110 in the end.

There are also traffic tickets that are specific to cyclists. For example, you can get a ticket for:

  • Not outfitting your bicycle with proper lighting: Cyclists must have proper lights, reflective materials and reflectors on their bicycles and failing to have these could result in a ticket with a set fine of $85.
  • Riding a bicycle that does not have a working bell: All bicycles must be equipped with a working bell or horn so you can alert other riders, drivers, and pedestrians of your presence if needed. The set fine for this ticket is $85.
  • Riding double: Riding double on a bicycle built for one could also net you a ticket for $85.

Many municipalities also have specific bylaws that, if not followed, could lead to a ticket for riders. Toronto, for example, has a bicycle bylaw in place that stipulates, "no person age 14 and older may ride a bicycle on a sidewalk". The fine for riding a bicycle on a sidewalk is $60.

Pulled over while cycling, now what?

Unlike driving, you're not required to carry identification when cycling. But that doesn't mean you can get out of a ticket if you happen to get pulled over. If you are not carrying any identification, you must provide the officer with your correct name and address. Being evasive or lying about who you are could earn you another ticket at best (for failing to identify yourself), or in the worst-case scenario, arrest.

Do bike infractions come with demerit points?

They're not supposed to because even though a bicycle is a vehicle, it is not a motor vehicle, which is an important distinction when it comes to demerit points. Any ticket you get while cycling should not result in demerit points added to your driver's licence.

Of course, mistakes can happen. If you get a ticket while cycling, review the ticket with the officer to ensure it is listed as a cycling infraction and not a motor vehicle infraction. Otherwise, you may have to fight the ticket in court.

Do cycling infractions affect your auto insurance?

Again, no, they shouldn't. If the ticket is recorded as a cycling infraction, any ticket you get while cycling should not affect your auto insurance coverage because it’s not added to your driving record. Since the ticket wouldn't (or shouldn't) be on your driving record, it would not affect your premiums.

Avoid getting a ticket, and ride — and drive —safely

Road safety is enhanced when everyone — cyclists, drivers, and pedestrians — are predictable, and by following the rules of the road, we can all get to where we want to go, safely and ticket-free.