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October 24, 2011

Cyclist Awareness: Making a Right Turn

Imagine you are riding your bike on the right side of the street. A car beside you on your left is traveling the same direction. You are about to head straight through an intersection when the car suddenly turns right directly into your path. The driver does not signal and you have no warning that the car would turn right.

This is the scene in BC Supreme Court case Hildebrand v. Flint. The cyclist, Mr. Hildebrand, is injured when he is thrown to the pavement after his bike is hit by a police car attempting to make a sudden right turn.

The police officer is an experienced driver. Before working as a traffic enforcement officer, he drove professionally as a taxi, bus, and truck driver.

Even with a full shoulder check, the officer does not see Mr. Hildebrand. The officer says this is because of the blind spot at the back right of his vehicle and because his sightline is blocked by the security frame and screen in his car.

Section 165 (1) of the Motor Vehicle Act states that drivers who intend to turn right must approach the intersection and make their turn as close as practicable to the right hand curb. Mr. Hildebrand’s lawyer says that the police officer failed to do so in this case.

In the decision, the Judge says he is “mystified” by the officer’s failure to see the cyclist before turning right from the centre of the road. The officer is found 100% at fault for the collision.

The bike lanes in Vancouver were initially going to be temporary, but our mayor says they are now here to stay. Motorists must be extra cautious when making a right turn across these lanes. At some intersections, motorists are no longer able to turn right. At other intersections, motorists must yield to cyclists in both directions before they cross the bike path to make their turn.

Cyclists are more difficult to see. Just ask the police officer in the Hildebrand case. So please watch for cyclists and use extra caution when driving near the bike lanes.

Author - Slater Vecchio

Slater Vecchio LLP is a boutique law firm located in British Columbia. Over the past 20 years, Slater Vecchio has represented thousands of clients and has grown into one of the largest personal injury and class action firms in the province.