Who Has Right of Way, Cars or Bikes?

BC’s Bicycle Laws

If you have been injured by a motorist while riding your bike, ICBC may argue that you were entirely or partially to blame. However, this is not necessarily accurate and should not deter you from pursuing a personal injury compensation claim.

ICBC has been known to defend motorists that are later deemed 100% negligent by a judge. That is why if you have been involved in an accident with a vehicle, it is always a good idea to talk to a Vancouver personal injury lawyer about your options.

In the meantime, you may find it useful to understand exactly what the law says about bicycles in British Columbia.

BC’s Bike laws

According to the Motor Act 1996, cyclists in British Columbia have the same rights and responsibilities as motorists. This means that cyclists must abide by the rules of the road, such as stopping at red lights and yielding to pedestrians. Cyclists must not do anything a motor vehicle should not do, such as weaving in and out of traffic.

There are some additional rules that apply to cyclists. For example, cyclists must:

  • Wear a helmet
  • Remain visible – for example, through the use of lights
  • Not cycle across crosswalks
  • Not cycle on sidewalks, unless instructed to do so

The law does not say anything specific about dedicated bike lanes. This is a common source of dispute, as left or right-hand turning vehicles often collide with cyclists who are proceeding straight ahead. Nevertheless, a judge recently ruled that vehicles should ‘yield to cyclists’ in dedicated bike lanes.

Who has right of way: bikes or cars?

If you are injured by a motorist while cycling, the issue of liability may hinge upon who had right of way. A cycling safety report published in 2015 found that motorists were at fault in 93% of bicycle accidents in which right of way could be determined. This typically occurs when drivers fail to:

  • Come to a complete halt at stop signs and intersections
  • Carry out a left-hand turn without a clear view of the road ahead
  • Carry out a right-hand turn without checking their blind spot
  • Proceed with caution when emerging from a side street or parking lot

Things are more complicated where the right of way cannot be established. In these scenarios, a judge will consider the facts of the case before making a decision. As in the case of Charlton-Miner v. Hedgecock, where a cyclist was struck in a bike lane by a right-turning vehicle, the judge may decide that vehicles should yield to cyclists.

A motorist may also be found at fault for a bicycle accident if he/she:

  • Drives while impaired
  • Drives while distracted
  • Speeds
  • Fails to check for cyclists before opening a vehicle door
  • Fails to leave enough room for a cyclist while passing

Contributory negligence

ICBC may try to argue that a cyclist is in some way responsible for the accident – perhaps because he/she was cycling in the dark without lights, or cycled across a crosswalk. Even if this is true, a cyclist may still be entitled to claim compensation. However, their compensation settlement may be reduced to reflect their involvement in the accident. So, if a cyclist is considered 25% responsible for the accident, he/she will receive 75% of their damages.

Get expert legal advice

If you are injured by a drive while cycling, it is always a good idea to speak to a Vancouver personal injury lawyer. You may well be eligible to receive compensation – even if ICBC disputes your claim.

Vancouver personal injury lawyers

If you have been injured as a cyclist, please contact us at John Mickelson Law Corporation. We specialize in cycling accident claims and can explain the options available to you.

Either fill in the free online enquiry form or call us on 604 684 0040.

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