Cyclists, Drivers Can't Point Fingers

By Owen, Bruce | Winnipeg Free Press, January 19, 2013 | Go to article overview

Cyclists, Drivers Can't Point Fingers


Owen, Bruce, Winnipeg Free Press


Collision data show both parties need to take better care on road

It's time to call a truce in Winnipeg's war between cyclists and drivers.

It turns out both are at fault for crashes, injuries and even cyclist fatalities during the past decade, according to data released by Manitoba Public Insurance.

The continuing rate of collisions between bikes and vehicles is one reason Manitoba's Public Utilities Board told MPI late last year to put together a more comprehensive public education campaign on road safety and messaging to motorists regarding cyclists, such as giving cyclists one metre of space when passing them.

"We're both to blame," said Dave Elmore, director of safety and education for the cyclist lobby group Bike to the Future. "There's equal fault on both sides. The numbers that we've had in the past from MPI really show that at least 50 per cent of cyclists are at fault for most of their own collisions."

MPI's numbers from 2001-10 appear to back that up. MPI spokesman Brian Smiley said 13 cyclists were killed and 68 seriously injured in that period, and there were 2,144 less-serious injuries to cyclists.

Almost 68 per cent of reported collisions happened at intersections, as did 61 per cent of the 13 fatalities. In 63 per cent of those collisions, the cyclist was pedalling straight ahead and 20 per cent of the vehicles involved were turning right, meaning the driver likely turned into the cyclist without shoulder-checking.

Of the cyclists in a collision with a motor vehicle:

-- 10 per cent reported they were distracted or confused;

-- 4.3 per cent failed to yield the right-of-way;

-- three per cent disobeyed a traffic-control device.

Of the motor vehicle drivers in a collision with a cyclist:

-- 4.1 per cent said they were distracted;

-- 4.8 per cent failed to yield the right-of-way;

-- 1.1 per cent were speeding.

"Everyone is expected to share the road," Smiley said. "Cyclists are entitled to be on the road. They are also expected to observe the rules of road, meaning stopping at stop signs, observing traffic lights and yielding when appropriate. Vehicles are also expected to share the road with cyclists."

The numbers were compiled from claims filed with MPI. City police do not record these statistics.

Elmore said the numbers he has show there is an overall downward trend in the number of car-cyclist collisions in the past decade, but that the numbers have edged up in the past two years.

"I think that's really a result of the fact that we have more and more cyclists on the road these days, and fewer of them actually understand how they should be behaving on the road," he said. "In some cases, they don't possess the skills, and in some cases, they don't have the knowledge and understanding.

"It's easy for drivers to point to cyclists who shoot through red lights and at stop signs, but they're by far the minority of cyclists. And the same holds true for cyclists, who say that drivers speed and also roll through stop signs. …

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