Our Court Confirms No Double Standard for Cyclists

Posted on by Mussio Goodman

Court Confirm That Bikes Can Be At Fault For Accidents, Like Cars

Looking around the city during our recent spate of sunny weather, it is nice to see the numerous bike lanes in Vancouver being put to some use. The City of Vancouver installed these bike lanes to protect cyclists against accidents, so they should take advantage of them and ride in the designated areas whenever possible.

Of course, there are times when a cyclist must share the road with motor vehicles as well. In these cases, many believe that cyclists should not be held to the same standard of care as motor vehicle drivers, because it is the latter group who are more vulnerable.

However, the law holds a different view.

The case of Miles v Kumar 2013 BCSC 1688 provides a good example of how cyclists are held to the same standard of care on the road. The Plaintiff was cycling on Grandview Highway when he made a lane change in front of a vehicle driven by the Defendant. The lane change was careless, despite the fact that the Plaintiff was on a bicycle and the Defendant was in a car. Mr. Justice Bernard made the following conclusions:

[62] In summary, with due regard for all the foregoing, I make the following determinations: (a) that as Ms Kumar travelled in the left lane to the point of the collision, she enjoyed the right of way; (b) that the evidence does not reasonably support a finding that Ms Kumar was, at the time, driving without due care and attention, or without reasonable consideration for other persons using the highway, or at a speed that was excessive to the conditions; (c) that when Mr. Miles entered the left lane in front of Ms Kumar his bicycle was servient to Ms Kumar’s car; and, (d) that when Mr. Miles entered the left lane he did so in breach of his statutory duties pursuant to ss. 151(a) and 151(c) of the MV Act.

[63] In addition to the foregoing, I am also satisfied that there is no evidence upon which I could reasonably conclude: (a) that Ms Kumar ought to have known that Mr. Miles would disregard her right of way; or, (b) that there was sufficient opportunity for a reasonably careful and skilled driver in the position of Ms Kumar to avoid colliding with Mr. Miles (see Walker v. Brownlee, supra).

The bottom line is that a careless lane change is a careless lane change, whether you are operating a bicycle or a motor vehicle. This is true for any other rule of the road. Needless to say, the cyclist will suffer the brunt of any collision with a car, regardless of fault. However, the law does not discriminate; even if a bicyclist is seriously injured in an accident that was their fault, they will have no legal recourse.

For this reason, cyclists need to be remain particularly vigilant of their surroundings on public roads.

Specific safety tips and regulations for cyclists can be found here.