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Behind-the-Wheel

Conflict over right of way

Right of way is given, not taken.

Please read that again and think about what it means when applied to driving, cycling and walking.

A sense of entitlement is not what you should have when you use our highways, regardless of your travel mode.

A video was provided by the cyclist and reported on by CTV Vancouver. (Check https://www.drivesmartbc.ca/right-way/conflict-over-right-way for the link.)

It shows the cyclist using the cycle lane approaching an intersection on a right curve where there is limited visibility.

A car on the right is attempting to make a left turn after stopping at a stop sign and encroaches on the cycle lane as the cyclist comes into view. The sun appears to be directly behind the cyclist and may be interfering with the driver's ability to see.

The cyclist moves to the left to go around the car. The driver fails to see the cyclist and begins to make the left turn. 

A collision results.

The discussion on CTV's Twitter account is mixed. Some lay the blame with the cyclist and others feel that it is the driver's fault. All seem polarized in a situation that contains shades of grey.

First, let's establish where the cyclist fits into the road rules. Section 183(1) MVA imposes the same rights and duties as the driver of a vehicle on the cyclist.

For the most part, this means that the cyclist must behave as if they were a driver. It also means that other drivers must treat the cyclist the same way as they would another motor vehicle.

Now, let's examine this intersection with a two-way stop.

Our car driver must stop properly at the stop sign.

Having stopped, the driver must yield to the cyclist (and any other traffic present on the through highway) that is either in the intersection or approaching it closely enough to be an immediate hazard.

The driver may now proceed with caution.

As the car comes into the cyclist's view, it appears to be stopped and then moves ahead slowly.

Here's where the grey begins and many drivers and cyclists on the through street do not realize that they may have a duty to yield to this driver and let them enter the street.

Section 175(2) MVA imposes this duty.

Now, take up your gavel and put yourself in the position of a judge having to decide liability for this collision.

You have the rules set out in the Motor Vehicle Act and established case law to guide you along with the information gained from the video.

Both the driver and the cyclist will present their side and you may also hear from witnesses.

One witness may be an expert at collision reconstruction who will tell you that it is possible that the cyclist could not have seen the emerging driver in time to stop when riding at 40 km/h.

In my own humble opinion, there is some liability on both sides for this collision and I base that only on what I see in the video and the MVA rules.

Story URL: https://www.drivesmartbc.ca/right-way/conflict-over-right-way

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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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