With the warm summer months now looking like they are finally here, British Columbians are able to get outside.
As we head out for a road trip, cycling to the next destination, or just on the daily commute, the volume of people sharing the roads is expected to increase over the next few weeks.
According to recent data from ICBC, the number of cyclist-related crashes also rises during the summer thanks largely to this huge influx of cyclists and drivers on the roads. In British Columbia alone, an average of 740 cyclists are injured and seven are killed in auto-related collisions every year between the months of June and September. In other words, six cyclists are injured every day in the summer.
For cyclists and drivers, there are several things to keep in mind during the summer months so that everyone stays safe, sharing the road really is a two-way street.
For cyclists, always wear a helmet. Cyclists caught biking without an approved helmet can be fined up to $100 in British Columbia.
Cyclists can be hard to see at night – wear reflective gear if you’re going to be biking after sunset or anytime when visibility could be low.
Another important point is to stick to designated bike routes whenever possible and stay off the sidewalks – biking on sidewalks can put pedestrians in danger and is illegal on most sidewalks in the province.
Similar to drivers, cyclists should also obey the rules of the road and be mindful of traffic signs and signals. If you’re unfamiliar with the rules of the road, there are resources available online on the ICBC website to refresh your memory (www.icbc.com).
For drivers, keep a safe distance from yourself and any cyclists on the road. Utilize the three-second rule – maintain at least three seconds behind a cyclist and give the cyclist at least one metre of space when you’re passing.
Shoulder check carefully during the summer months to make sure no one in is your blind spot and yield the right of way. Shoulder checking when parked is also very important and make sure that both you and your passengers check for cyclists before swinging the doors open.
Besides cyclists, one more demographic that is more likely to take to British Columbia’s roads during the summer months are the wild, furry, four-legged critters who also call our province home.
When driving or biking, be aware of wildlife warning signs and stay alert during the times where wild animals are more likely to be active, namely during the earning morning, dusk and at night. Baby animals are also more common during the warmer season, be mindful that one critter may have an entire litter trailing after her.
Wild animals are unpredictable and can freeze in a panic or try to outrun the vehicle. The best practice is to slow down and be on the lookout for any headlight-reflecting animal eyes hiding in ditches or bushes.
Regardless of whether you’re a biker or a driver, the beautiful British Columbia summers are finally upon us and everyone is hitting the road. Refresh your knowledge of the rules of the road before heading out and stay safe!
Blair Qualey is President and CEO of the New Car Dealers Association of BC. You can email him at [email protected].