Cycling is popular in Kelowna at this time of year, both as a hobby and mode of transportation. The reasons why aren’t surprising — the weather is great, the terrain is relatively flat, and the network of bicycle paths throughout the city continues to grow each year.
Cycling is a fun, economical and healthy way to get around, but it also comes with certain risks. Cyclists must share the road with motor vehicles, and cyclists are the more vulnerable of the two. During 2017 in the Southern Interior, there were 200 motor vehicle accidents involving cyclists, and 150 cyclists were injured.
It is possible for cyclists and motorists to share the road safely, but it requires effort and attention on both parts. As a cyclist, it’s important that you take the proper safety precautions, are aware of the rules of the road, and know your rights and how to protect yourself in the event that you are in a motor vehicle accident and need to take legal action.
Take safety precautions
Taking safety precautions while bicycling can prevent the chances of an accident, or protect you in the instance that an accident occurs.
Here are a few simple measures to take when cycling on the streets of Kelowna.
- Stay alert. Watch for vehicles, other cyclists, and pedestrians. Be especially aware of vehicles turning or backing up, and car doors opening. Shoulder check before crossing intersections.
- Stick to the bike lanes. Stay off of sidewalks and avoid riding side by side. Give vehicles as much room as possible by staying to the far right, but don’t veer onto unsafe gravel or dirt surfaces.
- Use hand signals. Use the proper hand signals when you stop or turn to help vehicles and others cyclists predict your next move.
- Be visible. This is especially important if you cycle at night — wear reflective materials, and ensure that your bike has reflectors and lights.
- Wear a helmet. Not only is it a law to wear a helmet, but it's one of the surest ways to protect yourself from dangerous head injuries.
- Know the rules of the road. These rules exist to keep us safe. Make sure you’re aware of your rights and responsibilities as a cyclist, many of which we will cover in the next section.
The rules of the road for cyclists in Kelowna
It’s important to remember that cyclists must act as motor vehicles on the road, not pedestrians.
These are some important rules to note from the City of Kelowna Cycle Regulations:
- Do not ride on sidewalks, unless under the age of 12 and operating a 3 or 4 wheeled cycle, or otherwise directed by a traffic control device.
- Do not ride on crosswalks unless otherwise directed by a traffic control device.
- Ride as near as comfortably possible to the right side of the paved surface.
- Do not ride side by side with another cyclist.
- Keep at least one hand on the handlebars at all times.
- Ride on or astride the seat of the cycle.
- Only carry the amount of people that the cycle was designed to hold.
- If cycling at night, use a white mounted lamp a red reflector at the front of the cycle, and a red mounted lamp at the rear.
- Wear an approved bicycle safety helmet, unless listed as an exemption under Subsection 9.1.6 of the City of Kelowna Cycle Regulations.
If you’re planning to cycle on major highways, it’s also important to make sure you’re aware of any restricted highways in B.C.
I was a cyclist involved in an accident with a motor vehicle — what should I do, and what am I entitled to?
Despite following the rules of the road and taking safety precautions, accidents can still happen.
If you are involved in a collision with a motor vehicle despite being a responsible cyclist, you may be eligible for compensation. It’s important that you take the necessary steps as soon as possible after the accident.
The first thing to remember is to not simply cycle away from the scene and continue on with your day. Even if the accident seems minor, it’s important to remember that symptoms can sometimes take time to arise (in the case of a concussion, for example), or you may be in shock.
Instead, take these important steps:
- Remain calm and neutral. Don’t get into an argument with the driver, even if they are trying to shift the blame of the accident onto you. At the same time, do not say anything to suggest guilt on your part. As much as it can be our human nature to place blame on others, it can also be in our nature to apologize or accept guilt even when we aren’t to blame. This could harm your case later on.
- Call the police and seek the help of a medical professional right away. Have them check you over for any symptoms or injuries, and allow an ambulance take you to the hospital if deemed necessary.
- Gather as much information as possible. Before leaving the scene of the accident, get the other party’s name, contact information, and license plate number. Request contact information from any witnesses, and be sure to snap several photos of the scene. As soon as you’re able to, list as many details about the accident as you can — the date and time, the weather, road conditions, location, what happened before and during the accident, how you felt after the accident, any injuries or symptoms that you experienced. As well, take photos and keep any damaged goods, including your bicycle, clothing, helmet, etc.
- Keep statements short and factual if speaking with the police, and speak to a lawyer as soon as possible.
If you follow these steps, you will be more likely to receive the claim that you deserve in the event that the case goes to court.
If you are a cyclist who was involved in an accident with a motor vehicle in Kelowna, FH & P Lawyers can help. Contact us today for more information.
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