Spring is in the air which brings more cyclists to BC roads. However, some may be averse to using pedal power as their primary commuter in light of recent news. Last week, headlines circulated throughout the province about a cyclist who was struck by a sports car and had to foot a hefty bill to repair the very same vehicle that hit him. ICBC billed bike-rider Ben Bolliger for over $3,700 for damage to a car that hit him as he cycled through a controlled intersection in a bike lane. In the past such a ruling may have been disputed, but there is now little recourse in these situations. Why? It’s stipulated in ICBC’s new No Fault Insurance Program which limits the ability to dispute ICBC rulings in claims court.
So, now is a great time to revisit what you know about road safety to reduce the risk of an accident and claim against you, no matter who could be at fault. Let’s review.
4 Important Things Cyclists Can do to Reduce the Risk of an Accident and Subsequent Liability Claims
I. Know (and Follow) the Rules of the Road for Cyclists
For the most part, BC drivers understand the rules as they apply to operating a vehicle in the province. It’s what ICBC road tests are for. However, there is no legal requirement for cyclists to undertake a test. This has led to a significant knowledge gap in what is expected of them when sharing BC roads and highways with drivers. The responsibility therefore lands on the cyclist. This has become especially important given that liability claims can no longer easily be disputed.
Park Insurance has provided a thorough guide to BC Motor Vehicle Act mandates as they apply to the responsibilities of cyclists, right here.
II. No Distracted Cycling
Every year ICBC and the RCMP join forces to create campaigns to prevent distracted driving. Park Insurance does its own part by consistently updating content to help keep drivers focused solely on the road. We encourage cyclists to also become more aware of activities and actions that may divert their focus when cycling. Please take note of the following:
- Only reach for and sip from your beverage bottle or tumbler when fully-stopped at a designated intersection of the bike lane or at a rest-stop on the highway. Return it to its holder before peddling. The same goes for snacking and eating.
- Don’t wear headphones or earbuds while cycling. Music, text alerts, and hands-free phone calls all cause distraction. Keep your smartphone in your pack, and not affixed to your handlebars. An incoming call can divert your attention from the road.
- Only enter information on GPS units when fully-stopped at a designated intersection of the bike lane or at a rest-stop on the highway.
- Only adjust body-camera settings (see more below) when fully-stopped at a designated intersection of the bike lane or at a rest-stop on the highway.
III. GoPro Before You Go
If Vancouver cyclist Bolliger had been wearing a GoPro (or other action-camera), and he was indeed in-the-right, he may not have been on the hook to repair the driver’s vehicle. Under the new No Fault platform, cyclists will want to ensure that they have a verifiable accounting of an incident. Moving forward, wear a camera using a helmet or chest strap for each and every commute. Remember to turn it on before you start peddling, even for small jaunts to the store.
IV. Understand Your Insurance Options
If you carry homeowners insurance, it typically provides you with liability protection for damage you might cause while riding your bike. Policies carry varying limits and deductibles, so we are happy to help you review your options.
In addition, cyclists are often eligible for insurance coverage for sanctioned events and activities, such as races, rides, and training activities through membership in Cycling BC. If you don’t carry homeowners insurance, you can also reach out to your local cycling club to inquire what is available as far as commuter cycling insurance is concerned.
*Please note that if you commute by eBike that the insurance and liability implications are different. Please reference our guide to eBike insurance in BC here.