Bicycle Accidents FAQ

  • As a cyclist, can I ride on the right side of the road, passing stopped traffic?

    • No, not unless the stopped traffic is turning left or there are two or more lanes going in the same direction, and then only when passing can be done safely.

    In Kimber v. Wong & Tong the traffic was stop and go on a road with one lane in each direction.  Mr. Kimber was riding his bike to the right of the cars, passing the slow moving traffic.  A car ahead of him stopped, leaving the intersection clear, and the driver motioned Ms. Wong to make her left turn.  Ms. Wong knew that cyclists often used that road, riding to the right of traffic, but she could not see past the other car.  Despite this, she made her turn.  She struck Mr. Kimber as he rode through the intersection.

    The judge decided that the parties were equally at fault.  The driver was negligent in failing to inch forward until she could see whether anybody was coming.  She knew that there was a risk of cyclists being present, but made her turn without keeping a proper lookout for a known risk.

    The cyclist was also at fault.  He was passing stopped cars and entering an intersection, which was a dangerous manoeuvre.  As such, he had a duty to maintain a proper lookout.  Cyclists are less visible and more vulnerable than other road users, and they must take reasonable care to ensure they are seen by oncoming traffic.  He ought to have known that a car could be turning left across his path.  He failed to keep a proper lookout and failed to take reasonable care for his own safety.  He should have slowed down and either joined the line of cars to travel through the intersection, or stopped beside the other stopped car before entering the intersection.

    In Ormiston v. ICBC a car almost came to a stop in the middle of the road.  The cyclist saw the car slow down, but could see no reason for this.  The cyclist decided to pass the car, riding on the shoulder.  As he passed, the car suddenly veered over the fog line into the shoulder, forcing the cyclist into a concrete abutment.  The cyclist ended up in a ravine, and the car drove away.

    The judge decided that the driver was 70% at fault, and the cyclist was 30% at fault.  By nearly stopping at the centre line then veering into the shoulder, the driver drove without reasonable consideration of others.  The cyclist’s fault was in passing on the right despite having been alerted to the odd behaviour of the driver.

    If you have been hit while cycling, we can help.  Contact us.

    Read the cases:  Kimber v. Wong & Tong

    Ormiston v. ICBC

  • As a cyclist, where should I ride in a multi-lane intersection?

    When riding through a multi-lane intersection, should I take the lane or ride as near to the right side of the road as practicable?

    • The Motor Vehicle Act requires cyclists to ride as "near as practicable" to the right side of the road, but where oncoming traffic might not see or expect the cyclist, the cyclist should take the lane.

    In MacLaren v Kucharek, an experienced cyclist was travelling southbound approaching an intersection where there was a straight through lane and a right turn only lane after the intersection.  He positioned his bicycle to be just to the right of the straight through lane as he entered into the intersection.  A vehicle travelling northbound turned left and the cyclist hit the vehicle and went over its hood.

    At trial, the cyclist was held not to be at fault at all.  The motorist appealed, arguing that the cyclist disobeyed Section 158(1) of the Motor Vehicle Act by passing vehicles in the centre lane on the right.  The Court of Appeal held the cyclist 50% at fault for riding between two commonly travelled lanes of traffic.  In the Court’s view, this was dangerous as a northbound left-turning driver would have little opportunity to see him as he cycled alongside vehicles to his left.

    In this case, even though Section 183(2) required him to ride as near as practicable to the right side of the road, the configuration of the intersection required him to take the lane to be able to cross the intersection safely.

    This case illustrates problems with the Motor Vehicle Act which is there to regulate the movement of motor vehicles but also imposes rules on cyclists that do not necessarily protect the cyclist.

    If you have been injured in a cyclist-vehicle collision, you need lawyers who know the law.  Contact us.

    Read the case: MacLaren v. Kucharek

  • Can a cyclist ride in a lane full of parked cars, past traffic stopped in a lane to the left?

    • Yes, if there is room in that lane for both the parked cars and the cyclist
    • However, the cyclist must take extra care once past the parked cars

    In Jang v. Fisher the cyclist was riding in the curb lane, beside a line of parked cars.  The cars in the lane to his left had come to a stop for a red light, and he rode past them.  The line of parked cars stopped a short distance from the intersection.  As the cyclist rode by the last parked car a car changed lanes into the curb lane.  The car and bike collided.

    The Court of Appeal said that the cyclist had done nothing wrong by riding in the curb lane, as the curb lane was wide enough that there was ample room for the cyclist.  However, the cyclist and motorist were still equally at fault.

    The motorist was at fault for failing to look prior to changing lanes.  The cyclist was at fault for failing to ride slowly enough that he would have been able to stop if a car suddenly changed into his lane.  This decision shows the bias that the courts have against cyclists.  In a case involving two cars, it is unlikely that a court would find a driver at fault for not driving slowly enough to avoid being hit when another car changes lanes without looking.

    Bicycle collision cases can be difficult, but we have the expertise you need.  Contact us.

    Read the case:  Jang v. Fisher

  • Can a cyclist ride on the sidewalk?

    • No.

    In Jurisevic v. Rideout, traffic was reduced to one lane and was slow due to construction.  The cyclist was riding on the road, passing the cars.  At some point he jumped onto the sidewalk and continued to pass the cars.  A car started to turn right into a parking lot in front of him.  The cyclist shouted at the driver, but was going too fast to avoid a collision.

    The judge held that the cyclist was at fault.  He pointed out that s. 183 of the Motor Vehicle Act imposed the same rights and duties on cyclists and drivers.  One of those duties is not to ride on a sidewalk, and another duty is not to overtake a pass on the right, particularly by driving off the roadway (s. 158).  Since he was riding quickly on the sidewalk, the cyclist had a heightened duty to take reasonable care for his own safety, which he failed to do.

    As long as the driver exercised the care required in the circumstances, which she did, she was not under a duty to ensure that a cyclist was not unlawfully and negligently trying to pass her on the sidewalk.

    If you have been injured in a cycling accident, we can help.  Contact us.

    Read the case:  Jurisevic v. Rideout

  • Can a cyclist riding in a marked crosswalk be at fault if hit by a vehicle?

    • Yes, even when riding in a crosswalk, a cyclist can be held partly responsible for a collision with a vehicle.

    In Callahan v. Kim Mr. Callahan was riding his bicycle to work.  He had a green light at an intersection but stopped anyway, pushed the pedestrian control button and waited for the walk signal.  He saw Mr. Kim’s vehicle coming from his left, saw it slow, and assumed it would stop.   When the walk signal came on Mr. Callahan rode ahead.  He tried to make eye contact with Mr. Kim but could not as Mr. Kim was looking to his left.  Mr. Kim did stop, but then drove forward into the crosswalk and collided with the bicycle.

    The judge decided that Mr. Kim was at fault in that he failed to check to his right for any users of the crosswalk before proceeding into the crosswalk.

    The judge then discussed whether the cyclist was also negligent.  The question was whether Mr. Callahan took reasonable care for his own safety and if he did not, whether that failure was one of the causes of the accident.

    The judge acknowledged that Mr. Callahan exercised a considerable degree of care for his own safety.  Despite having a green light, he stopped at the intersection, pressed the pedestrian walk button and waited for the walk signal before peddling into the crosswalk at a low speed.  He also looked at Mr. Kim’s car and saw it was slowing down.

    However, by his own admission, Mr. Callahan failed to make eye contact with Mr. Kim and so was held to be 15% liable for the accident.

    As in most vehicle-bicycle collisions, the court seems to hold the cyclist to a very high standard of care in protecting his own safety.

    If you have been hit while cycling, we can help. Contact us.

    Read the case:         Callahan v. Kim

  • What are a cyclist’s duties in making multiple lane changes?

    • Ensure that it is safe to change lanes
    • Ensure that your lane change will not affect drivers already in the lane
    • Signal your lane change
    • Do all of the above from a position where you can see other vehicles, and they can see you, even if that means moving away from the right side of the road

    In Miles v. Kumar the cyclist was riding in the right lane of two, and wanted to enter into the left turn lane.  He shoulder checked and saw headlights behind him, far enough back that he felt he could safely change lanes.  He shoulder checked again, signalled his intention, then changed lanes and was hit just after he entered the left lane.  The driver of the car had not seen the cyclist before the collision, and thought that a panel van in the right lane had blocked her view.

    The judge decided that the cyclist was entirely at fault.  The driver had the right of way in her lane before the cyclist changed lanes.  Anybody changing lanes can only do so if this can be done in safety, without affecting drivers already in the lane, and after signalling.  These duties are only effectively performed if the cyclist is in a position where he can clearly see the lane, and where those affected can clearly see his signal.  However, the cyclist had been on the far right side of the road when he shoulder checked and signalled.  The truck in the right lane both obscured his view of the driver in the left lane, and made it impossible for her to see his signal.

    Although the judge acknowledged that the Motor Vehicle Act requires a cyclist to ride as near as practicable to the right side of the road, he said that a cyclist must either wait until he has a clear view before changing lanes, or perform a further shoulder check and signal from a position where he is able to seen approaching vehicles and be seen by them.

    Bike – car crashes involve different consideration, but we can help.  Contact us.

    Read the case:  Miles v. Kumar

  • What are the duties of a cyclist and motorist who share the same lane?

    In Dupre v. Patterson the cyclist fell after coming into contact with the right rear area of the motorist’s care when the car passed her.  The judge referred to the following rules:

    • Each person has a duty to look out for others and to take reasonable care that their own actions do not cause others foreseeable harm.
    • Each person has a reciprocal duty to take reasonable steps to look out for their own safety.
    • The degree of care the law expects a person to exercise in a given situation is proportionate to the risks the actors knew about or should have known about, considering all of the relevant circumstances. The greater the risks associated with the activities involved, the greater the degree of care required.
    • Where a judge finds the careless actions of more than one actor, including the injured party, were causes of a person’s harm, the judge can apportion responsibility between them on a percentage basis that reflects the relative blameworthiness of the parties.
    • Even if a judge finds a defendant wholly responsible for the accident’s occurring, they may still reduce the plaintiff’s damages because the plaintiff failed to exercise reasonable care for his or her own safety by taking steps that would have avoided or reduced his or her injuries, such as having failed to wear a seatbelt or a bicycle helmet.
    • The Motor Vehicle Act lays down specific rules of the road to regulate the use of highways and crosswalks by motor vehicles, bicyclists and pedestrians. The provisions of the Act reflect older common law rules, modified and expanded to reflect the demands of modern traffic.
    • The standard of care expected of a driver is not perfection, but whether they acted as an ordinarily prudent person would act.

    In this case they were sharing the same lane.  The motorist could have waited until it was safe to move into the next lane, but she chose to squeeze by the cyclist instead.  She did not pass at a safe distance, and that caused the collision.  The motorist was 100% at fault.

    Cyclist cases need experienced counsel who can guide the court to the right result.  We can help.  Contact us.

    Read the case:  Dupre v. Patterson

  • What are the rules of the road for bicycles?

    • A person riding a bicycle has the same rights and duties as a person driving a car

    In addition, there are some specific rules that apply to bikes, including

    • Not riding on the sidewalk
    • Not riding through a crosswalk
    • Riding on the right side of the road
    • Not riding beside other cyclists
    • Using arm signals when turning or stopping
    • Wearing a helmet
    • Having a headlight and red tail light when riding between dusk and dawn
    • If a cyclist causes an accident, staying at the scene, giving assistance and providing their name and address

    If you have been in a collision while on your bike, we can help.  Contact us.

    Read the special rules affecting bicycles in sections 183 and 184 of the Motor Vehicle Act.

  • Can a cyclist claim damages against a car driver when there was no contact between the car and bike?

    • Yes, if the crash happened as a result of the negligent driving of the car
    • a driver of a motor vehicle can never be justified in deliberately using a motor vehicle to confront a cyclist who is riding a bike

    In Davies v. Elston two cyclists commented on a truck whose large side mirror stuck out into the bike lane. The truck owner heard the comment, got in his truck and chased them down. The driver pulled up close to the cyclists and a short verbal exchange occurred. The driver was angry, threatening and aggressive. During this exchange, the nearer cyclist put his hand on the window frame. When the truck pulled away the cyclist crashed.

    The judge held that the driver was 100% at fault. He was driving without reasonable care for the safety of the cyclist. The fall was caused by the driver’s dangerous conduct in pulling up and driving his large truck within an arm’s length of the cyclist, while yelling at him. This disturbed the cyclist’s balance and led to the fall. The cyclist was not partly at fault in placing his hand on the truck. He had competed in bike racing for decades, and this allowed him to use his arm as a guide and for stability so he could steer his bike parallel to the movements of the truck, to keep a safe distance in case the truck veered even closer.

    If you have been hurt in a bicycle crash, we can help. Contact us.

    Read the case: Davies v. Elston