Tuesday, April 21st24.0°C
Behind The Wheel

Cyclists not second class

I read a story in the Victoria Times Colonist this morning regarding crashes involving motor vehicles and cyclists using the Galloping Goose trail. The article was prompted by a cyclist who had ridden across Ardersier Road and was struck by a driver who had stopped for the stop sign and then failed to yield to the cyclist. There is a crosswalk painted across the Ardersier where the trail crosses.

The Motor Vehicle Act (MVA) says it all in one statement: "...a person operating a cycle on a highway has the same rights and duties as a driver of a vehicle." Strictly speaking, both Ardersier Road and the Galloping Goose Trail are highways within the meaning of the MVA. This effectively means that the cyclist on the Trail had every reason to expect the driver to remain stopped as they crossed with caution, in the same way that they would at the intersection of two "regular" streets having a two way stop.

The conversation posted by readers at the end of the article is illustrative of the confusion many people have with the basic rules of the road. Chief among them at the time I read it was that the cyclist should have dismounted and walked across the crosswalk. This is only the case where a bylaw does not permit a cyclist to ride in a crosswalk and the City of Victoria has done this in the Streets and Traffic Bylaw.

To give the driver the benefit of a doubt, this may simply have been a mistake of either not seeing the cyclist and making the connection that the driver had to wait until the cyclist had crossed safely in front of them, just like a two vehicle collision in a "regular" two way stop intersection. However, it is possible that the driver felt entitled because they considered that the cyclist was a second class road user and had to yield to motor vehicles. If that is the case, the driver needs to re-evaluate their perception of sharing the road with cyclists.


Look waaay ahead!

Imagine making a lane change and crashing into a fully marked police vehicle stopped at the side of the highway with all of its emergency lights operating. I can only guess that the driver was not properly scanning his environment and looking far enough ahead to anticipate issues before they happen. It might also be time to consider offsetting the police vehicle to the right rather than the left when working on the freeway.
Driving safely requires more than watching the vehicle ahead of you and making sure that there is more than a meter or two between vehicles in front and behind when you change into another lane as the driver in this crash found out. At freeway speeds of 120 km/h you are moving at over 33 m/s. A reasonable buffer of 4 seconds is 132 m. Add 80 m stopping distance on level dry road and you should be looking well over the length of a city block ahead at minimum.
I was trained to offset my police vehicle to the left of the violator's vehicle by about half its width to provide a pocket of protection as I approached the driver's door. This often left part of the vehicle in the highway lane. I later learned on my own to pull as far to the right as possible and do a passenger side approach to stay out of traffic. Even then I didn't feel safe, slow down, move over law or not!
Our highways can be very dangerous places as there are an average of 282 fatal crashes on them each year. Planning and scanning well ahead can give you the notice you need to avoid a crash. Staying as far out of the travelled lanes as possible when you have to stop is a must as warnings may not protect you.
The author is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement experience. To comment or learn more, please visit drivesmartbc.ca.

Police don't write tickets for..

I often hear the opinion expressed that the police never write tickets for (insert your favourite violation here). While I know what I wrote tickets for when I worked, I also knew that each officer had his or her own opinion on what was important to write tickets for and what they would choose not to write. In order to make a more informed response on the DriveSmartBC website I asked ICBC for a list of the number of Motor Vehicle Act (MVA) convictions for 2014.

As I am sure you have already guessed, speeding tickets were the most frequently written. In fact, at about 176,000, they formed more than 39% of the total. 7,500 of those were for speeds of more than 40 km/h over the posted speed limit. This is not surprising as failing to obey the speed limit is common, accurately quantified and a concise case in traffic court.

Distracted driving convictions are about one third of speeding convictions, totalling about 50,300. Given the risk that this driving behaviour presents and how much of it I see around me when I drive, I hope that these type of conviction increases if the behaviour does not decrease.

Occupant restraint convictions, not including child restraints which are dealt with under the MVA Regulations, numbered about 34,000. This type of violation ticket should be difficult to issue by now one would think, especially since ICBC tells us that the current rate of use is in the high 90% range.

Other specific categories of conviction include motorcycle related offences at 235, cyclist related offences at 4887 and pedestrian related offences at 963. Is your pet peeve listed? Check out the entire list by visiting DriveSmartBC.ca.


NZEVs in my neighbourhood

I saw a new sign beside the road in my neighbourhood last week: NZEV Zone Begins. This means that I might now encounter Net Zero Emission Vehicles in my local travels. Also known as Low Speed Vehicles (LSV) or Neighbourhood Vehicles, these electric vehicles are designed to operate at speeds of 40 km/h or less.

NZEVs are vehicles that bear a national safety mark issued by Transport Canada. They must meet minimum safety levels which include: headlights, turn signal lamps, mirrors, parking brake, glazing requirements for a windshield and have seat belt assemblies present. Finally, there is the maximum speed capability of 40 km/h.

These low speed vehicles may be operated on provincial roads under authority of a permit issued by the local office of the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure. They may also be driven on municipal streets with speed limits of 40 or 50 km/h if the municipality has authorized it through a bylaw. You must have a valid driver's licence and insurance and licence plates from ICBC.

An NZEV may be a golf cart, but a golf cart is NOT an NZEV! They don't bear the required safety mark and they do not meet the safety requirements, so a golf cart cannot be operated under the same conditions as an NZEV.

In light of the current slow vehicle keep right issues in the public eye, one wonders why a NZEV whose speed tops out at 40 km/h is allowed on a road with a posted speed of 50 km/h. Our NZEV zone contains a lot of winding road with double solid center lines. Will there be many violations of the no driving on the shoulder or pass over solid double line laws? We'll see.

Read more Behind the Wheel articles


About the author...

Tim Schewe has been writing his column for most of the 20 years in his traffic enforcement service in the RCMP. It was 'The Beat Goes On' in Fort St. John, 'Traffic Tips' in the South Okanagan and now 'Behind the Wheel' on Vancouver Island and now Castanet.net. Schewe retired from the Force in January of 2006, but the column became a habit and continues.

E-mail him your questions or concerns: [email protected]


The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet presents its columns "as is" and does not warrant the contents.

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