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Behind-the-Wheel

Taking cyclists seriously

I found this tweet from a cyclist on southern Vancouver Island yesterday:

A #RCMP told me today it was too dangerous to ride a bike on the roads and I should find another hobby. In their view, going to the grocery store on a #bike is a hobby. #Police and the public need to wake up #bikes are a serious mode of transport.

Wow! This officer must have missed some important reading in their copy of the Motor Vehicle Act.

Rights and duties of operator of cycle

"183 (1) In addition to the duties imposed by this section, a person operating a cycle on a highway has the same rights and duties as a driver of a vehicle."

Turnabout is fair play however, as I have also prosecuted a traffic ticket I issued to a cyclist who ran a red light. His defence in traffic court was that he was not a driver and that same Motor Vehicle Act only spoke of vehicles and drivers when imposing the duty to stop.

Let's pause here for a moment and get right back to the basics of a highway.

Many of us tend to think of this as a stretch of pavement posted with speeds of 80 km/h or more and designated by a number. Highway 1, Highway 97, or Highway 3 come to mind as they are major provincial routes.

These are very specific instances and the reality is much broader. The definition of a highway in section 1 of the Transportation Act says:

  • "highway" means a public street, road, trail, lane, bridge, trestle, tunnel, ferry landing, ferry approach, any other public way or any other land or improvement that becomes or has become a highway by any of the following:.....

There are many public ways where most motorized vehicles cannot go, yet they are in fact highways that are open to many other modes of use.

My point here is that in law, highways are intended for use by drivers, cyclists and pedestrians.

In short, everyone.

While there are rules for how that traffic is meant to interact, all of the three are equally important and equally entitled to use the highway within those rules.

Ignorance of these rules and a false sense of entitlement on the part of all types of road user get in the way of the system functioning as intended.

When this misunderstanding is present in our traffic enforcement authorities, people who really should know, it must be addressed.

After inquiring, I learned that the cyclist had noted the officer's name from their name tag. However, he headed off my impending suggestion of communicating the situation to that officer's manager by stating that he was afraid of retaliation if he did.

I'll try to deal with this in next week's article...

Story URL: https://www.drivesmartbc.ca/cycling/taking-cyclists-seriously



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Do you have vision zero?

ICBC's current corporate slogan is Building Trust, Driving Confidence.

Pair that with last week's announcement of a $582 million loss for the first six months of the corporation's fiscal year and one begins to wonder about the confidence part.

That loss is being blamed on the rising number and cost of claims.

Laying the blame there is probably the easiest thing to do and the least likely to require a lot of explanation.

ICBC rates are set by the BC Utilities Commission, which is ultimately controlled by the provincial government.

That's the same government that took dividends out of ICBC coffers that could have been invested by the corporation and the profits used to pay insurance claims.

Our provincial government also controls many other facets of this issue. Driver licensing, policing, traffic laws, highway design and maintenance to name a few.

So, who's in the driver's seat and where are they taking us? Are we happy with the direction of travel?

There are three ways to reduce this deficit:

  • take in more money
  • reduce costs
  • quit running into each other or other things.

No one wants to pay more for their vehicle insurance. This is a relatively immediate consequence and one that we feel acutely. It's easy to complain about as it's visible to us all regularly.

Let's make the high-risk driver pay a high-risk premium. Ditto for those who actually cause a crash. They should pay more too.

Good drivers should pay the smallest premium.

Recently, reducing costs has come in the form of paying less for claims. This is a little more palatable because we're all better than average drivers and perhaps this isn't seen as something that will directly affect us.

Someone else will pay the price regardless of whether they are the culprit or the victim.

Finally, we come to a very complicated problem, how to reduce or eliminate collisions. Vision Zero. The most certain way to reduce insurance rates.

People make mistakes. Despite our best intentions bad things can happen and this is why we buy insurance.

The reduction of these mistakes and the minimization of the consequences of those that do happen will be a long process. Safe highways, safe vehicles, safe speeds and safe users all combine to produce the safe systems of Vision Zero.

I can make a difference immediately, if I try. I realize that driving is a team effort, not an individual one. I won't be selfish and I'll share the road.

I will even try to put others first if there is a need to.

Will you?

Story URL: https://www.drivesmartbc.ca/government/building-trust-driving-confidence



Check your owner's manual

One of the loneliest books in the world might just be your vehicle's owner's manual.

Consigned to the glove box, many never see the light of day until they find a new home in the recycle bin. That's a shame because the manufacturer of your vehicle has put a lot of thought and important safety information on those pages.

The most basic piece of safety equipment to appear in the owner's manual was likely the seatbelt.

Mine shows pictures of how to wear it properly, warns of what could happen to me if I did not and explains on how to care for it. Proper use of the seatbelt is extremely important if your vehicle is equipped with airbags.

Speaking of airbags, this was probably the next step up in occupant protection.

Knowing that you must sit at least 25 cm (10 inches) back from the airbag and that you must not put small children in a seating position protected by an airbag will prevent injury caused by these systems if you follow the advice.

Your supplemental restraint system (airbags) will even tell you that it is ready to protect you each time your start your vehicle. Do you know what to watch for on the instrument panel to insure that this is so?

if not, refer to your owner's manual.

In general, airbags are designed to last for the life of your vehicle.

However, the first generation of some airbags may not and the manufacturer recommends that they are replaced after a certain period of time. Is your vehicle one of them?

Refer to your owner's manual to find out.

As a passenger, do you ride with:

your feet on the dash

prop a pillow against the window beside you and nap on a trip?

do you use seat covers?

All of these practices are warned about in your owner's manual.

While we're on the subject, airbags now mandate that you hold the steering wheel at 9 and 3 or 8 and 4 instead of the 10 and 2 that we probably all learned back in the day.

No more hand over hand steering unless we are proceeding at parking lot speeds or slower.

Moving ahead in time, let's add anti-lock brakes, traction control and electronic stability control to our vehicles.

We may have learned about stomp and steer as opposed to pumping the brake, when to disable traction control and that electronic stability control should never be shut off. Yes, it's all in your owner's manual.

A driver's life can be very complicated today depending on what comes as standard equipment on your new vehicle and what you have purchased as an option. Lane departure warning, backup cameras, automatic emergency braking, blind spot monitoring, drowsiness alert, tire pressure monitoring are just some of the advanced safety systems available now.

They are not foolproof, require maintenance to keep them working properly and you have to know how they work and what they are telling you to use them effectively.

Where do you learn about all this stuff? You guessed it, by reading the owner's manual for your vehicle.

Need a refresher?

Don't consign that manual to the recycle bin. It's a very valuable part of your vehicle's equipment!

Story URL: https://www.drivesmartbc.ca/equipment/refer-your-owners-manual



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"N" Drivers Forever!

Does a novice driver have to take the test to become a fully licensed class 5 driver?

While there is a limited time that a novice must remain in the Graduated Licensing Program, there is currently no limit on the other end of the scale.

"N" drivers forever!

Of course, remaining a novice driver comes at a cost. You must abide by all of the restrictions listed on the back of your licence.

Being a novice means displaying an N sign prominently on the rear of any vehicle that you drive. This includes vehicles that you drive for work purposes, even if they are owned by the company you work for.

Cell phones, hands free or not, are forbidden for you to use. Ditto the GPS whether it is on your cell phone or part of the vehicle dashboard.

The rules regarding impairing substances have changed recently.

In addition to having a zero blood alcohol level when driving, a novice must not have cocaine or tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in their body either.

The Draeger Drugtest 5000 is approved for roadside screening to determine whether the driver is under the influence of marihuana or cocaine while driving or not.

There are passenger restrictions too. Novices may only carry one passenger.

This restriction does not apply if the passengers are family members or the novice is accompanied by a properly licensed supervisor who is at least 25 years old and is not a learner or novice driver.

Novice drivers are also subject to stricter sanctions in RoadSafetyBC's Driver Improvement Program. The chances of being prohibited from driving for a period of time if you receive a traffic ticket occur much sooner than they would for a full privilege driver.

Novices are allowed to drive outside B.C. as long as they follow the restrictions on their licence just as they would have to here in B.C. Penalties for failing to do so are set by the province or state that the novice is driving in.

Instead of worrying about the driver who has chosen not to test for their full privilege licence and remain a novice, perhaps we should admire them.

They've decided to subject themselves to tighter sanctions than the rest of us when they drive. That is, until they face a driving prohibition after receiving a traffic ticket.

Now, there is incentive to test for full privilege licence and escape the sanctions of the Driver Improvement Program.

Story URL: https://www.drivesmartbc.ca/driver-licencing/n-drivers-forever



More Behind the Wheel articles

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About the Author

Tim Schewe is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement experience. He has been writing his column for most of the 20 years of his service in the RCMP.

The column was 'The Beat Goes On' in Fort St. John, 'Traffic Tips' in the South Okanagan and now 'Behind the Wheel' on Vancouver Island and here on Castanet.net.

Schewe retired from the force in January of 2006, but the column has become a habit, and continues.

To comment, please email

To learn more, visit DriveSmartBC



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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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