The New Rules of the Road: Safety Tips for Sharing the Road
By: Taylor Morin, Associate Lawyer
Summer is nearly upon us and very soon, the roads will be filled with motorcycles and bicycles. As operators of motor vehicles, we all need to be mindful of our obligation to safely share the road with bicyclists and motorcyclists. Remember, “look twice, save a life!”.
This blog post will address several rules of the road for motorcycles and bicycles. Furthermore, it will outline several safety tips that will help make these fun hobbies as safe as possible.
First things first! To operate a motorcycle in New Brunswick, you must possess a valid motorcycle license. In recent years, the process to obtain a motorcycle license has changed. Currently, in order to obtain a motorcycle license, you must be at least 16 years old, and you must have successfully passed an approved motorcycle training course. After passing the motorcycle training course, you can apply to the Registrar of Motor Vehicles for a motorcycle learner’s license. However, even after you have received the motorcycle learner’s license, you will only be considered a novice motorcycle driver.
As a novice motorcycle driver, you are entitled to drive your motorcycle on public highways. However, the motorcycle learner’s license has several mandatory conditions, such as: not carrying passengers, not using the motorcycle to tow another vehicle, not operating the motorcycle between sunset and sunrise, not having any alcohol quantity in your blood while operating the motorcycle, and not having consumed any drugs while operating the motorcycle. Before being eligible to apply for the full motorcycle license, the novice motorcycle driver must hold the motorcycle learner’s license without interruption for a minimum of 12 months and must have successfully completed the required road test.
Once you have your full motorcycle license, there are still a few rules to keep in mind:
If your motorcycle is not designed to carry a passenger, or if you do not have a permanent and regular passenger seat, you are not permitted to carry a passenger on your motorcycle.
You are not permitted to ride directly beside another motorcycle, except if you are passing that motorcycle. Although glamourized by movies and television, this style of riding is not permitted in New Brunswick.
Never forget your helmet! Motorcycle drivers and passengers must wear a helmet at all times. Also, the helmet must conform with the safety standards that are set out in the Regulations.
If you don’t have a motorcycle, the next best way to get the wind in your face is a bicycle! However, it is important to keep in mind that when riding a bicycle on a roadway, you have all of the rights that someone operating a vehicle has, but you also share all of those duties and responsibilities.
Here are some rules to keep in mind:
You cannot carry more people on a bicycle at one time than the number for which the bike is designed.
You must wear an approved and properly fastened helmet. Parents or guardians should be aware that they are not permitted to authorize or knowingly allow someone under 16 years of age to operate a bicycle on a highway without a helmet.
When operating your bicycle on a roadway, you must ride as near to the right side of the roadway as practicable, and you must exercise due care when approaching vehicles.
You are not permitted to ride your bicycle directly next to another bicycle, unless you are on a path or a part of a roadway that is set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles.
You are not permitted to operate your bicycle on a roadway if there exists a usable path for bicycles that is adjacent to the roadway. Where such a path exists, you must ride your bicycle on that path, and not the roadway.
You are not permitted to carry anything while riding your bicycle which would prevent you from keeping at least one hand on the handlebars.
You are not permitted to ride a bicycle at night, unless your bicycle is equipped with a lamp on the front and a red reflector on the rear of the bicycle.
Your bicycle must be equipped with a bell or another device that is capable of giving an audible signal.
Your bicycle must be equipped with brakes that are adequate to control the movement of the bicycle and to stop the bicycle.
Riding motorcycles and bicycles are wonderful summer activities. However, we must always keep in mind that these activities are also potentially dangerous. Before riding a bicycle or a motorcycle, keep the following safety tips in mind:
Make sure that you are dressed to ride! My grandfather once told me: “Dress for the slide, not the ride!”. On a hot summer day, it might be tempting to go out riding in a t-shirt and shorts. However, in the event of an accident, this leaves you more vulnerable to injuries. Therefore, in keeping safety top of mind, it is always preferrable to dress in tough and resilient clothing, such as denim or leather. This is especially true if you are riding a motorcycle.
Don’t forget your helmet! Wearing a helmet is not only the law but is also a great safety precaution. Many head injuries are preventable if you are wearing a helmet.
Always check your bike before riding! Before going on a ride, it is important to check things such as tire pressure/tread, brake functionality, and signal lights/horns. It might take a few extra minutes, but these simple precautionary measures will greatly increase the safety of your ride.
Never assume that a vehicle sees you! It is always best to assume that an approaching vehicle does not see you. Always err on the side of caution!
DISCLAIMER: The publications on this website are intended to provide information of a general nature and not legal advice. The information contained in this publication is current to the date of the publication and may be subject to change following the publication date.