14 Sep Watch Out For Cyclists When Turning Left

The case of Ilett v. Buckley, 2016 BCSC 1407, reaffirms that drivers must make sure they can turn left safely before proceeding.

The Plaintiff was cycling on the shoulder of the northbound lane of Admirals Rd. As he proceeded through an intersection he collided with a vehicle driven by the Defendant, who had made a left turn directly in front of him. The Plaintiff suffered a number of injuries including a loss of function in his right shoulder.

The main issue in this case was:  who was responsible for causing the accident?

ICBC argued that the Plaintiff was responsible for the accident because it is against the Motor Vehicle Act to cycle on the shoulder of a highway.  The Defendant testified that she had sat in the southbound lane waiting for several minutes for oncoming traffic to clear so that she could make her left turn. She stated that she looked for oncoming bicycle traffic but that her vision was impeded by a large vehicle.  She testified that she inched forward and looked around the large vehicle before proceeding to make her left turn, and it is then that the collision occurred.

The Court placed great weight on the testimony of an eyewitness to the accident. The eyewitness was in her vehicle travelling directly behind the Defendant.  The eyewitness testified that from where she was positioned she could see the Plaintiff cycling northbound on Admirals Rd, approaching the intersection. She also testified that when the Defendant made her left turn it was in a sudden motion, and that she did not proceed forward cautiously.

The Court found the Defendant fully responsible for causing the accident. Madam Justice Gray noted that the Defendant had failed to ascertain that her left turn could be made safely and this caused the accident.  It was unlikely she had bothered to look around the large vehicle as she would have seen the Plaintiff, who was there to be seen and had been observed cycling northbound by the eyewitness.

Madam Justice Gray wrote:

“Ms. Buckley drove in her left turn without hesitation when she did not have a clear view of the northbound shoulder, and when she knew that cyclists frequently rode on the shoulder….The fact that she drove without a clear view of where she was driving caused the accident”.

The Plaintiff was awarded over $500,000 in damages.