Cyclists have rights too

More space needed to keep cyclists safe

In response to Mr. Al Wilson’s “Some Observations” in a recent Morning Star. Perhaps if Mr. Wilson, and drivers in general, better understood B.C. laws and regulations, the comments and concerns could be directed towards improving the situation along Bella Vista Road. Section 183 (1) of the Motor Vehicle Act states that a cyclist has the same rights and duties as the operator of a motor vehicle. Subsection 2(c) requires that a cyclist ride as close as practicable to the right side of the highway, and Subsection 3 clarifies that “Nothing in Subsection 2 (c) requires a person to ride a cycle on any part of the highway that is not paved.”

The problem then isn’t cyclists riding in accordance with the Motor Vehicle Act, but that the traffic density has increased to the point where additional space is needed. While portions of Bella Vista Road have paved shoulders that are available to cyclists, much of that popular road does not. Mr. Wilson and other motorists should be lobbying for widening the road to provide additional space. As with 20th Street, portions of Pleasant Valley Road, and hopefully soon, 43rd Street, providing paved shoulders or separated bicycle lanes is for the benefit of all road users, motorists and cyclists included.

Contrary to the opinion expressed, licensing or regulation of motorists does not give them “ownership” or additional rights on the roads. Cyclists are therefore not “encroaching” on any motorist’s rights to the roads. Their only requirement is that roads be shared in a safe and equitable fashion.

Note too that “licensing” motorists, or cyclists, does not automatically infer a higher standard of driving or riding. I’ve been an ICBC licensed driver training instructor for over 25 years, and can say with certainty that bad driving habits and lack of basic driving skills are pervasive, licensing not withstanding. Examples: the licensed motorist that turned left in front of the cyclist on Bella Vista Road just last week, or the licensed older gentleman who turned in front of my friend Pam on Silver Star Road, or the licensed woman who turned left in front of my co-worker as he cycled on Okanagan Landing Road. I could go on.

The bottom line is that, if there is not a paved shoulder provided for cyclists, they are entitled to use a portion of the lane. As with any slower-moving vehicle, motorists must adjust their speed, pass when safe to do so, and provide for a safe space margin.  Although a cyclist may seem painfully slow by comparison, if a motorist were following an average cyclist on Bella Vista Road from the Rise to 41st Street (not very likely), they would arrive at church only four minutes, 12 seconds later than if they had driven the same route at the speed limit.

So, until cycling infrastructure improvements can be extended to Bella Vista and other busy roads in Vernon, all road users will have to share what is there.


Kim Young, Vernon