As Bike to Work Week kicks off next week, ICBC is urging drivers and cyclists to be aware of each other on our roads. One of the biggest risks facing cyclists today is “dooring” when the driver or a passenger in a parked car opens their door into a lane of traffic or a bike lane without checking if a cyclist is approaching.
“Dooring” can seriously injure or even kill a cyclist, and accounts for one-in-14 cyclist incidents throughout the province and one-in-seven incidents in Vancouver.* It’s important that both drivers and passengers shoulder check for cyclists before opening their doors. Cyclists should keep at least one metre away from parked vehicles and watch for people in vehicles.
In B.C., 670 cyclists are injured and six are killed in car crashes from June through September as ridership increases every year.**
Bike to Work Week encourages commuters to leave their cars at home and cycle instead. Whether you’re using four-wheeled transportation, or two use extra caution and watch out for other vulnerable road users.
“We support Bike to Work Week as an opportunity to remind everyone that cycling is a healthy, climate-friendly way to get to work,” said Todd Stone, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure. “But we also know that crashes involving cyclists peak in summer when ridership increases. Whether you’re driving or cycling, watch for other road users and do your part to share our roads safely.”
“Our goal is to have the safest roads in North America by 2020, and with an ever-increasing population of bicycle commuters, learning to share the road is integral to that success,” said Mike Morris, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General. “Road safety is not just about vehicles, it’s about cyclists and pedestrians as well. Be aware of your surroundings, keep your eyes on the road and work together to ensure everyone gets back to their families safely at the end of the day.”
ICBC also invests in road improvements across B.C. to make roads safer for cyclists. ICBC partners with municipalities and the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure to reduce crashes and make communities safer. Fewer crashes and injuries help reduce claims costs which continue to put substantial pressure on customers’ insurance rates.
“ICBC invested approximately $3.7 million in 153 cycling-related road improvement projects in B.C. from 2011 to 2015,” said Mark Blucher, ICBC’s president and CEO. “This includes new bike lanes, improved lane markings and lighting along bike paths. Whether you’re a cyclist or a driver, always remember to share the road.”
Tips for drivers:
You’re required by law to check for traffic – including cyclists – before opening your car door. You could be fined for opening your door when it’s unsafe. Look first and open your car door slowly. Hint: Open with your hand furthest from the door – this makes you twist a little to reach the door and can remind you to do a shoulder check before proceeding.
Actively watch for cyclists on the road. Make eye contact with cyclists whenever possible to let them know you have seen them.
Shoulder check for cyclists before turning right and watch for oncoming cyclists before turning left. Before you pull away from the curb, shoulder check for cyclists.
If you need to cross a bike lane to turn right or to pull to the side of the road, signal well in advance and yield to cyclists.
If you’re entering the roadway from a laneway or parking lot, always scan for cyclists and other road users.
Tips for cyclists:
Always wear an approved bicycle helmet that meets safety standards — it’s the law in B.C. and you could be fined for not wearing one. Look for a helmet that’s approved by a recognized body such as Snell. More important than who made the helmet is how it fits. It should be snug, but not uncomfortable, and should not be able to roll off of your head when the chin strap is secured.
Keep at least one metre away from parked vehicles so you don’t get hit by an opening door. Use caution if you notice people in vehicles as well as taxis.
Be extra visible with reflective gear on your bicycle pedals and wheels.
Use designated bike routes whenever possible – they’re safer and reduce conflicts with vehicle traffic. Check your local municipality’s website for designated bike routes or go to TransLink for Metro Vancouver cycling maps.
If there’s no bike lane, keep to the right-hand side of the road as much as it’s safe to do so. It’s illegal to cycle on most sidewalks and in crosswalks – it puts pedestrians in danger and drivers don’t expect cyclists to enter the roadway from a sidewalk.
Make sure you obey all traffic signs and signals and rules of the road.
Shoulder check well in advance and hand signal before taking any turns. Remember, drivers sometimes fail to yield right-of-way.
*Top contributing factors assigned to drivers in car crashes in B.C. involving cyclist injury or fatality based on 2009 to 2013 police data.
**ICBC (injury) and police (fatality) data from 2009 to 2013.