CASE LAW - Heuring v Smith

BC Courts Coat of ArmsDouglas Heuring was riding his bicycle eastbound on 13 street approaching Grand Boulevard East in North Vancouver, B.C. He stopped for the stop sign about 10 feet back from the marked stop line at the intersection. He saw a truck being driven northbound by Erik Smith slowing down as it approached the 4 way stop.

Assuming that Smith would stop, Mr. Heuring proceeded, but chose to move to his right and ride in the crosswalk as he knew that he was being overtaken from behind by another vehicle.

Mr. Smith stopped, but slowly proceeded forward and did not immediately observe Heuring's approach. Both braked, but a collision occurred.

Madam Justice Morellato was asked to decide both liability and damages for the collision. She found that Heuring did not stop properly and should have dismounted to use the crosswalk. Smith should have taken greater care, expecting the possiblity of the cyclist in the crosswalk and that the cyclist could be hidden by the A pillar of his vehicle.

The disposition amounts come to a total of $112,244.37 but must be reduced by 40% to $67,346.62 to reflect the apportionment of liability between the parties. Special damages in the categories agreed to by the parties must be added to this amount. These are to include treatment and mileage expenses incurred from the date of the Accident to June 30, 2015, with a 40% deduction representing Mr. Heuring’s apportionment of liability.

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Comments

Two things are puzzling

Two things are puzzling: a) no explanation of why the cyclist stopped 10 feet behind the stop sign instead of say 2 feet behind. Also the statement of the Justice that had he stopped at the stop sign (instead of 10 feet behind) he have had a better view of oncoming traffic.  Based on the Google picture it's hard to see that the view of the traffic would have been significantly different from either spot.

If there is an issue about stopping 10 feet behind the stop sign it's a minor issue and it's about the view the incoming traffic has of the cyclist, not the other way round. The bigger issue was moving over to the sidewalk. Unfortunately too many people riding bicycles are unaware of the importance of being properly positioned on the roadway, and not riding on crosswalks.

Some time ago while riding my bicycle I stopped at and immediately behind the stop sign on a side street and waited for the traffic on the main street to clear so I could enter the intersection. A truck approaching from the right along the main street turned left cutting the corner and and entering the side street on the left side of the road where I was waiting striking me almost head-on, as a result of which I was taken to hospital. As I was stationary I could not swerve out of the way. The fact I was well visible did not help me. If I had stopped 10 feet behind the stop sign, the visibility may have been less but as visibility was not a factor in the first place, being 10 feet further back may well have saved me from the hospital. But if it hadn't I wonder if the 100% settlement I received would have been reduced.

When driving large vehicles the reason for stopping a few feet before the stop sign is to minimize the visual obstruction for pedestrians and other vehicles (billboard effect). When riding bicycles it is sometimes also advisable to stop a few feet back to reduce the hazard from turning vehicles that are cutting the corner.  Contrary to what Madame Justice appears to think there's no one uniform rule for the best point to stop.

'Best point to stop'

Contrary to what Madame Justice appears to think there's no one uniform rule for the best point to stop.

The problem with a term like 'best' is that it's subjective.

But the law isn't. Section 186 of the MVA is quite specific.

Law is not that specific

Don't understand how the relevant paragraph of Section 186 can be described as "quite specific". "At the marked stop line" is not quite specific since is not defined. If I am wrong please tell me where it says at what point a stopped vehicle is not considered to be "at the marked stop line", i.e. how many inches, feet, centimetres or metres can the front of the stopped vehicle be behind the marked stop line line before it's no longer considered to be stopped "at the marked stop line"?  I agree that the best point to stop is subjective, but so is the law here. I still think the best place to stop is a judgement call that considers safety and avoids contravening the MVA.

Alternatives to "at the marked stop line" may apply, i.e. just before a marked crosswalk, if there's no stop line, or, at the point from which the driver can see approaching traffic on the intersecting highway when there is no marked crosswalk or line. The last rule for stop signs says it's OK to drive onto an unmarked crosswalk without stopping, at least when no pedestrians are crossing. Is this good or bad?

I can see where you're at

 

"At the marked stop line" is not quite specific since is not defined.

True enough, 'at' is indeed a bit ambiguous, and I don't think it's defined in any of the MVA Definitions. Our site host will probably know.

That said, if it comes down to parlance, it's my honest opinion that stopping 10 feet / 3 metres (approx, OK?) would not be considered 'at'. I don't think 100 feet / 30 metres would be either, and I'm sure we would concur on this.

As an analogy, if you see a stationary pedestrian standing on a street corner, up against the wall of the building, would you say they were 'at the crosswalk?' Me neither.

The last rule for stop signs says it's OK to drive onto an unmarked crosswalk without stopping, at least when no pedestrians are crossing. Is this good or bad?

Neither of the above, because if I'm understanding you correctly, then I think you have misinterpreted this bit:

(c)

when there is neither a marked crosswalk nor a stop line, before entering the intersection, at the point nearest the intersecting highway from which the driver has a view of approaching traffic on the intersecting highway.

The reason being, is that those unmarked crosswalks, (which is the vast majority of actual crosswalks) is dependent on the existence of connecting sidewalks (these have an actual definition, too, I'm sure and they don't have to be concrete but somebody's front lawn doesn't count).

If there was an unmarked crosswalk, there would be a Stop Line, in every case if the Traffic Engineers have kept things up to standard.

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