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The need for dedicated cycling lanes, cycling paths and traffic calming in Greater Victoria continues to be a hot-button issue. With the latest harrowing incident involving cyclist Ladislav Cumpelik on West Saanich Rd, where he was dragged while hanging onto a semi-truck’s brake lines has brought attention to the matter again. Infrastructure should be improved throughout Greater Victoria to protect cyclists from conflicts with motor vehicles.

The 2015 Cycling Safety Report that was completed January 22nd by Urban Systems using ICBC data on incidents between cyclists and motor vehicles in Greater Vancouver indicate that where fault was determined (54%), 93% of the time it was the motor vehicle driver who was to blame. This provides an ironic twist to those who complain of rule-breaking cyclists and serves as an indictment on motor vehicle drivers.

Although the above statistic applies to Vancouver and not Victoria, generally-speaking the numbers are similar throughout Europe and North America. Anywhere from 70 to 93% of the time, where fault was determined, blame was pointed at the auto driver. The Vancouver data is based on 2,994 ICBC collisions that happened between 2007 and 2012.

You may wonder where all these incidents were happening. Approximately half (50.5%) of all reported collisions involving cyclists and motor vehicles took place when the cyclist was crossing an intersection. More damning for motor vehicle drivers yet, the ICBC data indicate that the majority of intersection collisions occurred when the cyclist was travelling straight through the intersection with the right of way, while the vehicle was making a turn.

This indicates that it is the vehicle driver who is not using mirrors and shoulder checks and there is a potential lack of signalling before turning. However, to some degree, it can indicate that some cyclists are not making themselves as visible as possible as there is an increase in incidents when the days are darker and especially so at dark and rainy times.

Fifty-six percent of collisions between cyclists and vehicles happened on roads that did not have dedicated cycling lanes.

When asked about the Urban Systems Report and the need for better infrastructure the vice president of the Greater Victoria Cycling Coalition said, “In short, infrastructure that puts motor vehicle traffic in close contact with vulnerable cyclists and pedestrians is the prime reason for these types of crashes. Individual circumstances always vary, but from a region-wide perspective, which is where we focus our efforts, building better infrastructure needs to be the focus.”

When bicycle volumes were taken into account by neighbourhood, neighbourhoods with the highest collision likelihoods were Sunset, Shaughnessy, Victoria-Fraserview and Killarney. This suggests that the neighbourhoods with the least amount of cycling and cycling infrastructure had the highest cycling collision likelihood.

Capture_Cycling_AccidentsCRD
Victoria, BC. Between the two cities, the density of incident increases in similar urban areas.
Capture_Van
Vancouver, BC

Below are the percentage of and type of incidents. Most of the incident types can be attributed to careless driving or undue attention being paid by the vehicle driver.

  1. Doorings: Vehicle and bicycle user collided mid-block as vehicle door was opening (15.2% of reported cycling collisions).
  2. Conflict Zones: Vehicle and bicycle user collided mid-block as the vehicle as entering or exiting an alley, parking lot, or driveway (10.7%).
  3. Right Hooks: Vehicle turned right at a signal as bicycle user crossed at signal with right-of-way (6.5%).
  4. Sidewalk Riding: Bicycle user was riding on the sidewalk prior to collision (6.1%, including 2.7% mid-block and 3.4% intersection).
  5. Mid-Block: Vehicle and bicycle user collided while travelling in the same direction (5.7%).
  6. Left Cross: Vehicle turned left at a signal while a bicycle user entered intersection with right-of-way (5.4%).
  7. Intersections: Vehicle proceeded straight through a signal when right-of-way was unclear (5.2%).
  8. Traffic Circles: Vehicle and bicycle user collided in an intersection with a traffic circle (4.9%).
  9. Left Cross (Stop Signs): Vehicle turned left as a bicycle user crossed at two-way stop with right of way (4.6%).
  10. Two-Way Stops: Vehicle went straight as bicycle user crossed at two-way stop with right-of-way (4.5%).

In nearly 1,600 of the 2,994 collisions, ICBC data allowed the right-of-way to be evaluated. In approximately 93% of cases, the cyclist appeared to have the right-of-way.

It is clear that driver education is needed, perhaps an ICBC marketing campaign for drivers to look before turning, look before opening doors, signal when intending to turn and simply to be more aware of cyclists especially when entering intersections. In addition to an awareness campaign and possible better driver training, better infrastructure, where cyclists simply do not come into contact with motor vehicles will be the most effective method of reducing the number of incidents involving cars and bikes, like the one involving Ladislav Cumpelik; he was fortunate to receive only minor injuries.

*Report prepared by Urban Systems, in association with the Cycling in Cities Research Program at the University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University
Reported cyclist collision data provided by ICBC

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