By Dave Machat
Many of Vancouver’s residents have embraced cycling as a preferred form of transportation or recreational activity. Recent approval for a new bicycle lane on the Cambie Street Bridge speaks volumes of Vancouver’s love of cycling. The new lane will continue to grow and integrate one of the most extensive cycling networks in North America.
Despite the city’s widespread embracement of cycling, many still feel uneasy riding alongside motor vehicles. Stories of cyclists being unexpectedly injured while riding have become common place in our local news. The agony of such a tragedy is made worse by the strains of dealing with the unknowns associated with injuries.
Specifically, cyclists injured in an accident and wondering about the rights of injured cyclists in British Columbia are left asking themselves:
- How will I cover my medical bills?
- Will I be compensated for money I lose if I have to take time off from work?
- How can I make a claim if I am injured by a vehicle that left the scene?
- What if I experience chronic pain or have medical treatment or care needs?
The answers to these questions will depend on the unique facts of each individual case. In British Columbia, entitlement to compensation is largely determined by who was at fault. Cyclists, as much as motorists, are required to follow the ‘rules of the road’. These rules come from various sources, including: the Motor Vehicle Act, which governs road use; bicycle specific municipal bylaws; and previous Court decisions.
Examples of important ways to abide by the law while cycling that will reduce the likelihood of being found at fault include, but are not limited to the following:
- Not riding on a sidewalk unless it is a designated cycling lane or is authorized by a bylaw;
- Obeying all traffic signs and signals;
- Riding as practicable to the right side of the road; and
- Having appropriate lighting equipment and reflective gear when riding after sunset and before sunrise.
Failing to abide by legal responsibilities can reduce a cyclist’s compensation, but it may not be fatal to a making a successful claim. Liability can be apportioned by ICBC or the courts, and ICBC’s liability determination can be challenged.
It is best to address the challenges presented by the legal system by being informed and represented by your own advocate. Retaining legal counsel reduces stress and brings peace of mind to anyone who has been injured in a crash with a car, motorcycle, truck, or other vehicle.