Q&A - Would I Be At Fault? Wrong Way Cyclist

Q&A ImageI was in a situation that could have been very ugly. I was waiting to turn right at an uncontrolled intersection. I was waiting for traffic to clear from the lane that I was about to turn into.

My vehicle was sitting over the crosswalk as I needed to see past a vehicle that was waiting to turn left. As the lane cleared I was about to turn and the cycler (who wasn't wearing a helmet) was in the bike lane but going in the wrong direction (she was on the wrong side of the road and going against traffic).

The bike lanes are clearly identified with an arrow displaying the correct travel direction for that lane.

I always start slow when entering an intersection because of cases just like these where something unpredictable happens and you need to react and stop sooner.

If I would have hit her, would I be at fault in this situation?

I'm assuming that our site host has provided the Google view.

So it might be best to start with some clarification; firstly, that isn't an uncontrolled intersection - it's controlled by a Stop sign on Doyle (which you were presumably turning right from into the main road?),

Also, the bike lane doesn't seem to indicate a direction of travel.

So to my mind, Section 169 would apply, here.

Starting vehicle

169 A person must not move a vehicle that is stopped, standing or parked unless the movement can be made with reasonable safety

Also, as an observation on driver behaviour, I can tell you that moving your vehicle in one direction (as in forwards, while turning right, for instance) when your eyes are looking left (perhaps to ensure you don't get hit by a vehicle approaching on the cross street) is a common error.

But if it was your vehicle movement that ultimately caused the collision ... then how could the cyclist be to blame?

Vehicle was stopped at the stop sign and not moving as eyes were looking left.  Vehicle was in a position that it was stopped over the crosswalk to see past the vehicle that was trying to turn left at the same intersection.  The vehcile also came to a complete stop before crossing over crosswalk.  Which brings another good point......  Can a vehicle move into the crosswalk to see oncoming traffic or does it need to be stopped behind stop line until safe to proceed?

According to City of Kelowna Cycle regulations https://www.kelowna.ca/sites/files/1/docs/roads-transportation/part_09_…

9.1.2 (c) must, ride as near as practical to the right side of the highway, within a bicycle path if available,

I would agree that all drivers need to look out for cyclers, but in this situation, the cycler is in the wrong and in a place that a typical driver would not expect them to be.  In the case of a pedestrain in the place of the cycler, the pedestrian is moving much slower and would be much closer to the intersection as the vehicle is approaching the intersection and the driver would have more time to notice.  Bicycles travel much faster than pedestrians and if they aren't following the rules of the road, they are putting themselves at grave risk.  

So in the case of an accident, where the driver hit the cycler, what would be the fate of the driver (in regards to the law and charges)?  Seems unfair to punish the driver for following all the rules and the cycler gets off for breaking the rules.


There is a duty of care placed on everyone using the shared roads to everyone sharing the roads. So if a driver is able to see hazards, the driver has a responsibility to avoid causing injury.
And as CompetentDrivingBC astutely noted - moving forward/right to turn right while looking left is a common error. All drivers are recommended to look ahead before proceeding. This error is the most common reason for rear-end collisions at yield signs: following driver is looking left and seeing "all clear" then proceeds to rear-end a meek/hesitant driver stopped in-front of them.

Now, as far as cyclists riding in the wrong direction - they should probably stop that. I've had situations where an on-coming lane cyclist forced a proper-direction riding cyclist out of the bicycle lane and onto the road  in-front of my car. That is not caring, that's dangerous. In other news, cyclists get beat up by other cyclists for doing that in some places - like the second narrows, and while I wouldn't do that myself, I see it as a good thing - self regulation.

Seems to me though, that the courts may be more lenient towards a cyclist getting hit while riding in the on-coming lane, as compared to an oblivious driver creating a collision by riding the wrong way on a 1 way street, and that is definitely a bias towards the precious earth saving spandex clad self-righteous high-horse indignant never stopping always red-light running super zealous nincompoops.

All road users are people, why do we have this obvious inequality between the royal pedestrian, the lordly cyclists and the despicable pleb drivers on the roads is beyond me. When I'm waiting for a right turn, patiently letting people cross the street in-front of me, then I'm moving in to complete the turn before the light turns green for the parallel pedestrians, there is often a pedestrian that will step off the curb ahead of the green and calls me an asshole for proceeding in-front of them. He ain't better than me, he's equal, and while I waited for 20 persons, he could be so kind to allow me my turn before I wait for another 20 people.

If I'm not mistaken, movement isn't enough to assign blame.  For instance, in the case of vehicles running red lights and striking vehicles which enter the intersection under a green light, the courts have ruled that the red light runner is 100pct at fault unless the green light vehicle didn't allow the intersection to clear, or saw (or should have seen) the red light runner and could then have avoided the accident.

I'll add the usual preamble here about liability being civil law and my experience being criminal law, two different areas entirely.

I have been unable to find case law on the topic (still looking, will post if I find some) but my best guess based on what I have read in case law as this would be liability apportioned between the two of you. The cyclist for riding on the wrong side and the driver for not seeing a hazard that was there to be seen. How the court would decide who was more responsible than not would certainly depend on the circumstances.

The sole fact that the cyclist was riding on the wrong side will not absolve a driver who fails to see it and then runs into it.

You are not supposed to stop on a crosswalk unless you must because of traffic conditions. In this case you would stop at the marked stop line (or what's left of it) and proceed when safe. A subsequent stop may be necessary if you cannot get the view needed to complete the turn or traffic interferes. If that is the case, stopping on the crosswalk is permitted.

Just in case, the crosswalk here is an unmarked crosswalk, but definitely still present.