Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Support quality journalism
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
The Globe and Mail
Support quality journalism
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Globe and Mail website displayed on various devices
Just$1.99
per week
for the first 24 weeks

var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){console.log("scroll");var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1);

My friend flipped off a police cruiser coming in our direction. I was on a bike and he was walking. The police cruiser pulled over, the officer got out and asked to see my identification as per the Highway Traffic Act. Am I obliged to show them ? Also, they tried charging me for operating a "vehicle" without ID. Do I need ID when riding a bicycle? I would really appreciate your input as I feel my rights were violated. - Chen, Toronto

You have the right to remain silent if police stop you for breaking the law on your Schwinn - but you still have to let them know who you are somehow.

"A piece of ID is not necessarily required, but Section 218 of Ontario's Highway Traffic Act (HTA) requires the cyclist identify themselves to the officer by giving one's correct name and address," said Const. Clint Stibbe with Toronto police Traffic Services in an e-mail. "If the cyclist fails to identify themselves, the officer may place the person under arrest."

Story continues below advertisement

Bikes are vehicles under Ontario's Highway Traffic Act - but there's no rule saying you have to carry a driver's licence, or any other ID, on one.

"Since there is no obligation on a cyclist to carry documentation, an oral response is sufficient," said Ontario Ministry of Transportation (MTO) spokesman Bob Nichols in an e-mail. "A cyclist could show a driver's licence for the purpose of identifying himself or herself if the cyclist is carrying one but is not required to do so."

But, you're only required to identify yourself if police see you breaking the Highway Traffic Act (HTA) or any local traffic bylaw, the MTO said.

Police can hold you until they're satisfied that you are who you say you are. You can also be fined $110. The rules are similar across Canada.

The rights answer

Generally, cyclists have to follow the same rules as drivers and face the same fines. But, in every province except Quebec, cyclists don't get demerits and offences don't show up on their driving records.

But if a cop doesn't think you've broken traffic laws, there are no grounds to stop you or demand identification in the first place, said the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA).

Story continues below advertisement

"In this case, it's unclear whether the cyclist was violating any laws or bylaws - if not, the police would not have had grounds under the HTA to demand the cyclist stop and identify himself," said Laura Berger, CCLA interim policing and public safety program director, in an e-mail.

Across Canada, police must respect the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and human rights legislation, Berger said. That means they can't target cyclists or pedestrians "because of factors like race, age or disability."

And what about your pal who flipped off a police cruiser? There's no law against swearing at police or giving them the finger, Stibbe said.

But, if somebody else complains, you could be charged under Section 175 of the Criminal Code of Canada.

Will Ontario's new rules against carding, which start next year, have any effect on cyclists?

"Not that I'm aware of - the HTA governs the requirements of when a vehicle can be stopped and identification demanded," Stibbe said. "Officers can demand identification… documents, check for driver sobriety and check the mechanical fitness of the vehicles."

Story continues below advertisement

Have a driving question? Send it to globedrive@globeandmail.com. Canada's a big place, so let us know where you are so we can find the answer for your city and province.

We've redesigned the Drive section – take a look

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies