As a cyclist, can I ride on the right side of the road, passing stopped traffic?

  • No, not unless the stopped traffic is turning left or there are two or more lanes going in the same direction, and then only when passing can be done safely.

In Kimber v. Wong & Tong the traffic was stop and go on a road with one lane in each direction.  Mr. Kimber was riding his bike to the right of the cars, passing the slow moving traffic.  A car ahead of him stopped, leaving the intersection clear, and the driver motioned Ms. Wong to make her left turn.  Ms. Wong knew that cyclists often used that road, riding to the right of traffic, but she could not see past the other car.  Despite this, she made her turn.  She struck Mr. Kimber as he rode through the intersection.

The judge decided that the parties were equally at fault.  The driver was negligent in failing to inch forward until she could see whether anybody was coming.  She knew that there was a risk of cyclists being present, but made her turn without keeping a proper lookout for a known risk.

The cyclist was also at fault.  He was passing stopped cars and entering an intersection, which was a dangerous manoeuvre.  As such, he had a duty to maintain a proper lookout.  Cyclists are less visible and more vulnerable than other road users, and they must take reasonable care to ensure they are seen by oncoming traffic.  He ought to have known that a car could be turning left across his path.  He failed to keep a proper lookout and failed to take reasonable care for his own safety.  He should have slowed down and either joined the line of cars to travel through the intersection, or stopped beside the other stopped car before entering the intersection. 

In Ormiston v. ICBC a car almost came to a stop in the middle of the road.  The cyclist saw the car slow down, but could see no reason for this.  The cyclist decided to pass the car, riding on the shoulder.  As he passed, the car suddenly veered over the fog line into the shoulder, forcing the cyclist into a concrete abutment.  The cyclist ended up in a ravine, and the car drove away.

The judge decided that the driver was 70% at fault, and the cyclist was 30% at fault.  By nearly stopping at the centre line then veering into the shoulder, the driver drove without reasonable consideration of others.  The cyclist’s fault was in passing on the right despite having been alerted to the odd behaviour of the driver.

If you have been hit while cycling, we can help.  Contact us.

Read the cases:  Kimber v. Wong & Tong

                            Ormiston v. ICBC

 

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