Go dutch to the ferry


Wednesday, August 21 2019

Earlier this summer, the Coquitlam RCMP put out a press release stating that every day in BC, during the summer,  six cyclists are injured.

On average, nearly four out of five crashes involving cyclists occur at intersections in B.C.

One in 14 car crashes involving a bicycle are the result of ‘dooring’ - where a vehicle’s door is opened just in time for a bicycle to run into it.

This past week, at least one cyclist was ‘doored’ in the infamous Gabriola Ferry Lineup, by a vehicle parked between Ivory Way and Mallett Creek. The cyclist - who left the scene before witnesses could identify him or ask if he was ok - was thrown into the oncoming lane of traffic after his bike impacted a car door.

RCMP, and local Trustee Scott Colbourne, are encouraging drivers and passengers to practice what is known as the ‘dutch reach’ - opening the vehicle door with the arm furthest from the vehicle door, which forces drivers and passengers to check over their shoulders for approaching traffic.

Given how tight things are in the ferry line, this would be a good idea to not just avoid dooring cyclists, but also other vehicles.

If saving someone’s life, or preventing injury isn’t reason enough, RCMP can write tickets for dooring which can lead to fines against the driver of the vehicle.

It would also be good if drivers shared the active lane with cyclists in the ferry line area. Given how slow drivers already are going to avoid collisions in that area, it’s not like passing a cyclist will get anyone anywhere fast - and it lets cyclists maintain a safer distance from the lineup.

There’s no question, by using the road, cyclists must also take responsibility for their own safety and must cycle according to the rules and regulations.

But for cyclists to do that, drivers need to give them room.

To quote Colbourne, “For people driving cars behind people riding bikes or walking, recognize that you should give them at least one metre of space while passing and if road conditions don’t give you that safe margin or time - relax like you’re on a Gulf Island and don’t pass. 

“Waiting for a few hundred metres will cost you about three seconds on your trip, but it could save lives.”