ICBC backs plan for province wide bike training standard

Monday, July 9, 2012
Right to Bike initiative to focus on schools

Vancouver Sun, June 28, 2012

The Insurance Corp. of B.C. is investing $24,000 in a BC Cycling Coalition initiative to develop a provincewide standard for bicycle training.

"While new bike lanes continue to hit the head-lines, there has been no attention on the need to provide willing cyclists with the skills they might need to start riding," states the BCCC release.

"Voluntary and commercial organizations have offered a variety of cycling courses across B.C. for years but there is no coordination or consistency on what is taught."

A standardized cycling training program will lead to more knowledgeable and safer cyclists, said ICBC community involvement manager Jared Huber.

The initiative, Right to Bike, will develop courses that incorporate various levels of cycling ability. It will also focus, at least initially, on bicycle instruction in schools.

Vancouver-based HUB - formerly the Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition - is a not-for-profit society that offers cycling training courses. It is also backing BCCC's initiative.

"Cyclists should have access to education," said executive director Erin O'Melinn, adding "the best way to do that is to go through schools and teach children how to ride [as well as] the rules of the road."

However, O'Melinn said cyclist-related training for drivers is equally important and that B.C.'s driver-training regime is inadequate, especially when compared to places like Europe.

The City of Vancouver wants to make cycle safety awareness a key component of all B.C. driver training courses and examinations, according to its Transportation 2040 plan.

"The driving environment has changed," city transportation director Jerry Dobrovolny said in a telephone interview. "We've got bike lanes now and bike boxes and [a lane] that denotes bikes and cars have to share.... A lot has changed in 30 years."

The city plans to discuss this new infrastructure with ICBC, which conducts driver training courses and over-sees licence examinations. The discussions will also include feedback the city received on cycling issues during its transportation plan consultation process.

Drivers may endorse the city's initiative, according to a Harris/Decima poll conducted recently for the Canadian Automobile Association. Ninety-two per cent of respondents said they either strongly or somewhat support including more information on cyclists in young driver programs.

When ICBC was asked whether it would support the city's initiative, spokesman Adam Grossman replied in an email that the insurer already incorporates a great deal into its training and testing regimes regarding sharing the road with cyclists.

Three pages in its Learn to Drive Smart guide deal specifically with cyclists. Topics include maintaining a wide margin when passing bicycles and hand signal explanations.

ICBC-approved training courses teach drivers how to interact with cyclists as well, including indirectly through lessons on hazard identification.

The learners' licence written examination may include up to 13 questions on cyclists, Grossman said. The 50 questions on the exam are randomly selected from a database of 150-200.

The road examination also tests awareness of cyclists, Grossman added, by emphasizing skills such as checking over your shoulder.

Grossman noted cyclist-related crashes in B.C. make up less than 0.5 per cent of all collisions. On average, there are 1,300 cyclist-related crashes per year out of a total of 270,000.

The city's transportation plan is open to public feed-back until July 13 and will go before council in the fall.

TOP CONTRIBUTING FACTORS ASSIGNED BY POLICE TO CYCLISTS

in crashes involving cyclists are:

Cyclist inattentive/distracted

Driving on wrong side of road

Failing to yield right-of-way

Cyclist error/confusion

Ignoring traffic control device

TOP CONTRIBUTING FACTORS ASSIGNED BY POLICE TO VEHICLE DRIVERS

in crashes involving cyclists are:

Driver inattention/distraction

Failing to yield right-of-way

Driver error/confusion

Improper turning

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