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ICBC's tips to keep cyclists safe as crashes peak in B.C.

May 21, 2013

May 24 news article

An average of 150 cyclists are injured every month from May to October when crashes involving cyclists peak in B.C. With Bike to Work Week approaching (May 27 to June 2) and warmer weather encouraging more cyclists on our roads, ICBC is asking drivers and cyclists to share our roads and help keep everyone safe.

"I regularly commute to work on my bike and I know how important it is for drivers and cyclists to be aware of each other on our roads at this time of year," said John Dickinson, ICBC's director of road safety. "As a cyclist, I never assume drivers can see me and use multiple lights on the front and rear of my bike. When I'm driving, I give cyclists plenty of room so they're able to react to the unexpected such as a car door suddenly opening into their path."

"Too often police officers see the devastating results of a crash between a bicycle and a vehicle," said Chief Constable Jamie Graham, Victoria Police Department and Traffic Safety Committee Chair of the B.C. Association of Chiefs of Police. "Whether you're a recreational cyclist or cycle to and from work, it's important to always wear your helmet and follow the rules of the road. These crashes can be prevented - drivers and cyclists need to watch for each other at all times and use eye contact and hand signals to help anticipate each other's next move."

Here are ICBC's tips for cyclists and drivers on how to share the road together:

Tips for cyclists

  • It's important to perform regular maintenance and safety checks on your bike to prevent mechanical breakdown. The beginning of the cycling season is a good time to get a tune up. Check the tires and that both the front and rear brakes are working properly and clean, inspect and lubricate the gear, chain and derailleur.
  • Look for signs of wear on your helmet and make sure you use an approved bicycle helmet that meets safety standards. It's the law in B.C. and you could be fined for not wearing one. Bike helmets can prevent up to 85 per cent of serious injuries, which account for 80 per cent of all related deaths.
  • Position yourself so other road users can easily see you - don't weave in and out of traffic and avoid riding in the blind spots of vehicles. When turning, always hand signal well in advance of any turn. First shoulder check, then hand signal and then with both hands on the handlebars, shoulder check again before turning.
  • Wear bright, reflective clothing so you're as visible as possible. If you ride at night, you're required to equip your bike with a white headlight visible at 150 metres and a rear red light and reflector visible at 100 metres but consider adding more lights for increased visibility. Even still, never assume you have been seen by a vehicle - even when you have the right of way.
  • Plan your route before you set off. If you're new to cycling, take routes that are less busy and use bike lanes when possible. Cyclists must follow the rules of the road just like any other vehicle.

Tips for drivers

  • You should always actively look for cyclists in traffic. Wherever possible, make eye contact to let them know you have seen them. A cyclist often relies on eye contact as a means of communication as they try to anticipate your next move.
  • Make yourself familiar with the hand signals that cyclists use. If you're not familiar with them or need a refresher, read ICBC's learn to drive smart guide (page 77).
  • Shoulder checking is very important, especially when making right-hand turns at intersections and before you open your door to get out of your vehicle. When passing another vehicle, make sure you check for oncoming cyclists ahead of the vehicle you are passing. If you want to pass a cyclist, make sure there is enough space as a significant number of cyclist crashes result from side-swiping.
  • Drivers must yield to cyclists as they do any other vehicle and should maintain at least three seconds of following distance. Cyclists sometimes need to react quickly and unexpectedly to avoid hazards on the road so an increased distance will give you more time to safely react.
  • Do not drive, stop or park in a bike lane. If you need to cross a bike lane to turn right, or to pull to the side of the road, take extra care, signal well in advance and always yield to cyclists.
  • Don't honk your horn at a cyclist unless you need to give them a warning. A loud honk could startle them or even cause them to fall.

To see how many crashes involving cyclists are happening in your neighbourhood, view ICBC's online cyclist crash map.

ICBC helps fund safety improvements for cyclists through its safer roads program. These include shoulder widening and pavement marking for bicycle use, highly-visible coloured pavement markings for conflict areas along bike lanes and helping fund safety studies on areas of concern for communities.

Regional statistics*

  • In the Lower Mainland, on average, 600 cyclists are injured and four killed from May to October every year.
  • On Vancouver Island, on average, 170 cyclists are injured and one killed from May to October every year.
  • In the Southern Interior, on average, 100 cyclists are injured and two killed from May to October every year.
  • In the North Central region, on average, 20 cyclists are injured and one killed from May to October every year.

*Crash data is from 2008 to 2012 and fatality data is from 2007 to 2011.

Media contact:
Lindsay Olsen