The Motor Vehicle Act establishes the law for users of roads in British Columbia, including cyclists, pedestrians, and drivers of vehicles. The basics of the Act regarding the rights of pedestrians and drivers note that generally a pedestrian has the right of way to cross streets at crosswalks. When not on the road in a crosswalk, a pedestrian must generally yield the right of way to vehicles. Even when a pedestrian is in a crosswalk, she may not have the right of way to cross if an approaching vehicle is so close as to be impracticable for the driver to yield the right of way. Although crosswalks are usually marked at intersections, even where an intersection is unmarked, the Motor Vehicle Act provides that a crosswalk is said to exist. When a vehicle slows or stops at a crosswalk to allow a pedestrian to cross the highway, a driver approaching from the rear must not overtake or pass the slowing or stopped vehicle.
When a pedestrian is on the road but not in a crosswalk, drivers must take care to avoid collisions with that person, give warning by sounding a vehicle’s horn when necessary, and take “proper” precaution if a child or someone confused or incapacitated is on the highway.
Since the Motor Vehicle Act was passed in 1957, the nature of transportation has shifted dramatically throughout British Columbia. Distracted driving has recently become a dangerous problem for drivers, and Part 3.1 of the Motor Vehicle Act was introduced in 2010 to fine and penalize drivers using electronic devices like cell phones while operating motor vehicles. Cycling has also changed transportation across British Columbia as the fastest growing mode of transportation in metropolitan Vancouver with about twenty-five percent of British Columbians traveling by bicycle daily or weekly. The provincial government is currently developing policy to reduce motor vehicle-related injuries and fatalities throughout the province.
Part of proposed policy changes include changes to the Motor Vehicle Act. The BC Road Safety Law Reform Group has proposed introducing a safer passing law, requiring motor vehicles to pass vulnerable users of the road, such as pedestrians, cyclists, or someone using a wheelchair or riding a horse, by a distance of at least 1.5 metres. According to this proposal, a vehicle traveling in a multi-lane highway would need to change into the other lane to pass, especially improving road safety for cyclists. Another proposal recommends reducing speed limits in residential areas to 30 km/h to improve safety. Studies suggest that these changes will improve safety for users of the road.
These changes are likely to impact your obligations as a driver. The rights of pedestrians and cyclists to use the road are not always a clear-cut issue. Whether you are a pedestrian, driver, or cyclist, Preszler Law Firm can help you if you have been injured in an accident caused by another’s fault while using the road.