30 Mar Sharing the Road – The Need for Increased Vigilance By Drivers and Cyclists
As the spring weather returns to Victoria, many people will begin riding their bikes to work or for pleasure. The news of a recent cyclist fatality in downtown Victoria should act as a reminder that the warmer weather brings with it an increase in traffic incidents between vehicles and cyclists.
In this unfortunate accident, a 73-year old woman was killed as she was cycling toward downtown on Government Street. A large commercial truck, travelling in the same direction, struck and killed the cyclist as the driver attempted to turn right onto Fisgard Street.
This incident highlights the need for increased vigilance, courtesy and safety between drivers and cyclists.
According to the Motor Vehicle Act of British Columbia, cyclists have the same legal rights and duties as drivers of vehicles and should operate at all times in the same manner as a vehicle. By law, cyclists are required to wear a helmet and if riding at night they must have a front and rear light, as well as reflective stripes. Cyclists must ride as near as possible to the right side of the road, but drivers and cyclist must also be vigilant of ‘doorings’. Doorings occur when drivers exit their parked vehicle without looking and open their door directly in front of a moving cyclist.
It is also important that drivers remember that due to the unequal nature between a vehicle and a cyclist in size, speed and force, a brief moment of inattention on the part of the driver can lead to a life changing disaster for the cyclist.
In the case of Davies v. Elston, 2014 BCSC 2435, the driver of a vehicle was found to be fully responsible when his aggressive driving caused the plaintiff cyclist to lose his balance and fall. In that case the driver, believing the cyclist was taking up too much of the road, proceeded to pull alongside and shout accusations such as, “Do you think you own the road?”, and “You cyclists are all the same”. In her judgement Madam Justice Griffin highlighted the need for drivers to take extra care when vehicles and cyclists are in close proximity:
“It has to be remembered that motor vehicles have four wheels, automatic brakes, seatbelts, and the driver is nicely encased in a heavy steel cage and that a person on a bicycle is not in a situation which is the least bit comparable, even if going the same speed as a vehicle. A cyclist cannot stop on a dime, is vulnerable to losing balance, and can be seriously injured or killed if he or she makes contact with a motor vehicle or falls at a high speed.”
As the summer approaches the idea of “sharing the road” needs to be embraced by both drivers and cyclists.
Cyclists injured as a result of the fault of a driver can experience severe injuries that warrant compensation. At Acheson Sweeney Foley Sahota we have the experience to help you with your case. If you or one of your family members has been hit by a vehicle while cycling please call us for a free consultation.