Q&A - Which Side of the Trail do I Walk On?

Pedestrian CrossingQ: The Galloping Goose Trail is shared by pedestrians and high speed cyclists. Should one walk facing the traffic or keep right? I see both happening and there are arguments in support of both. I often have difficulty hearing cyclists and there is frequently not any warning. This makes me feel somewhat unsure when walking on the right side not knowing what is behind me. Most cyclists are polite, but unfortunately a few regard people on foot as an invasive species and treat them accordingly. Some sign guidance may helpful.

A: To start with, the Galloping Goose Trail is a highway within the meaning for the Motor Vehicle Act.

Pedestrians using highways

182 (2) If there is no sidewalk, a pedestrian using a highway must use only the extreme left side of the roadway or the shoulder of the highway, facing traffic approaching from the opposite direction.

"traffic" includes pedestrians, ridden or herded animals, vehicles, cycles and other conveyances, either singly or together, while using a highway to travel;

So, pedestrians must walk on the left facing oncoming cyclists.

Cyclists have the same duty that a driver does and must ride on the right:

Rights and duties of operator of cycle

183 (1) In addition to the duties imposed by this section, a person operating a cycle on a highway has the same rights and duties as a driver of a vehicle.

(2) A person operating a cycle

(c) must, subject to paragraph (a), ride as near as practicable to the right side of the highway,

The cyclist is also bound by the requirements of Section 181 to avoid collision and give warning when necessary:

Duty of driver

181 Despite sections 178, 179 and 180, a driver of a vehicle must

(a) exercise due care to avoid colliding with a pedestrian who is on the highway,

(b) give warning by sounding the horn of the vehicle when necessary, and

(c) observe proper precaution on observing a child or apparently confused or incapacitated person on the highway.

A horn may not be practical, but a bell or simply calling ahead by voice may be sufficient.

Finally, the cyclist is required to exercise care when riding, including riding at a reasonable speed for the circumstances:

Careless driving prohibited

144 (1) A person must not drive a motor vehicle on a highway

(a) without due care and attention,

(b) without reasonable consideration for other persons using the highway, or

(c) at a speed that is excessive relative to the road, traffic, visibility or weather conditions.

Ultimately, a bit of care, pedestrians on the left and cyclists on the right and everyone can see what is approaching and share the trail without colliding.

Comments

144(1) applies to the driver

144(1) applies to the driver of a motor vehicle. 183 (14) applies to the operator of a cycle:

A person must not operate a cycle

(a) on a highway without due care and attention or without reasonable consideration for other persons using the highway, or

(b) on a sidewalk without due care and attention or without reasonable consideration for other persons using the sidewalk.

Nice Catch

Actually, 183 applies only to the cyclist, but 144 applies to both driver and cyclist.

If a ticket were to be issued, no doubt the cyclist would prefer 183 as the penalty is only $109.

Why would the MVA include 183

Why would the MVA include 183 (14) (a) if in fact 144(1) applies to cyclists?

Good Question

You would have to ask your MLA that question. Look at all the other inconguities in the current Motor Vehicle Act....

Let's look at this from a different angle, maybe ...

Is there any record, any time, anywhere in BC, of a police officer ticketing a cyclist under Section 144? Frankly, I would be surprised to see them ticketing any cyclist for an offence that would result in demerit points on their driver license - I just don't think it happens.

Whereas, Section 183 is specifically aimed at cyclists, and their responsiblities as road users (which many of them don't seem to think exist).

Please note also, that penalties for Section 183 cannot affect the user's Driver License, in terms of demerit points. 

Tickets Issued to Cyclists

When a violation ticket is issued to a cyclist, the officer checks the appropriate box on the form:

violation ticket for cyclists

ICBC knows from this that it is not a violation by a driver and points are not assessed. Ditto for Owners, Pedestrians, Passengers and whatever Other might be.

Vehicle vs. motor vehicle

A person on a Vancouver neighbourhood email discussion group wrote to the Minister of Transportation because she disagreed with my interpretation of which parts of the MVA apply to cyclists; I argued that only the speed limits that apply to "A person driving a vehicle" apply to cyclists, not those that apply to "A person driving a motor vehicle".  Here is the one of the last:

Dear Stephen,

Thank you for your emails.

As per the Motor Vehicle Act (MVA) s. 183(1): In addition to the duties imposed by this section, a person operating a cycle on a highway has the same rights and duties as a driver of a vehicle.

As you have pointed out, motor vehicle and vehicle have different definitions in the MVA. On this basis, MVA s. 145, Slow Driving, would not necessarily apply to a person operating a cycle because s. 145 describes the requirements of a driver of a motor vehicle. However, s. 147, Schools and playgrounds, would apply to a cyclist because s. 147 describes the requirements of a driver of a vehicle.

You may be interested in the following example of when a cyclist was ticketed in Saanich: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/cyclist-speeding-ticket-debate-1.3755487

Although it is unusual for a cyclist to be ticketed for speeding in a school zone, they are also subject to MVA s. 183 (14) that states:

A person must not operate a cycle:

  1. On a highway without due care and attention or without reasonable consideration for other persons using the highway

The spirit and intent of the phrase “reasonable consideration for other persons using the highway” should be understood to mean that all cyclists should treat other road users with respect, especially vulnerable road users like pedestrians and children. Cyclists should also consider their own safety and the safety of other road users as top priority when operating their vehicle or cycle. This may mean slowing down, moving over to give more space, or even stopping altogether if required to ensure all road users make it to school or home safely.

You may also be interested in the following resource for cyclists, specifically page 22: https://vancouver.ca/files/cov/bikeSense1105.pdf

This resource discusses how high speeds are unsafe around multi-use paths with other vulnerable road users. This would certainly apply to children in school zones as well.

Sincerely,

Belle Belsky and Sarah Mitchell
Stakeholder Relations
RoadSafetyBC
Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General

I'm Shaking My Head

The operative words here are "driver" and "vehicle." Cyclists have the same rights and duties as the driver of a vehicle. A motor vehicle is a type of vehicle.

If the driver has to do it, so does the cyclist.

A motor vehicle is a type of

A motor vehicle is a type of vehicle, but a vehicle is not necessarily a motor vehicle; many of the sections are for a driver of a vehicle but some are only for a driver of a motor vehicle.  Here is another example of different usage in the same section:

Following too closely

162 (1) A driver of a vehicle must not cause or permit the vehicle to follow another vehicle more closely than is reasonable and prudent, having due regard for the speed of the vehicles and the amount and nature of traffic on and the condition of the highway.

(2) The driver of a commercial motor vehicle or a combination of vehicles, when driving on a roadway outside a business or residence district, must not follow within 60 m of another commercial motor vehicle or a combination of vehicles, but this must not be construed to prevent one commercial motor vehicle or a combination of vehicles overtaking and passing another.

(3) The driver of a motor vehicle in a caravan or motorcade, other than a funeral procession, outside a business or residence district, must leave sufficient space between his or her vehicle and another vehicle or combination of vehicles to enable a vehicle to enter and occupy that space without danger.

Interesting post!

Stephen C, I'm really enjoying your input here.

Want a laugh? In a part-time job I did for a Senior's Residence over several years pre-covid, we would frequently drive around Stanley Park (or bits of it). Speed limit 30 km/h. And when in you're in no hurry, there's no reason to speed. Also they use a lot of radar there.

So it always amused me to sometimes see cyclists - or even whole pelotons, I swear - zipping by in the other lane.

Stanley Park

That was what led to the discussion, someone was concerned about a video that showed a bicycle in the left lane of Park Drive, and that this cyclist might be slowing down the driver that shared their dashcam video. The cyclist was safely using the left lane to pass slower cyclists in the right lane (that was coned off for cyclist use only).  I argued that the drivers had a 30km/hr speed limit but the cyclists did not (in either lane), and that some cyclists are capable of exceeding 30km/hr. 

Here are portions of the

Here are portions of the preceeding emails:

"In addition, I would appreciate an interpretation on whether or not the following section of the BC MVA applies to an operator of a cycle, as another person claims they do.

"Slow driving

145 (1) A person must not drive a motor vehicle at so slow a speed as to impede or block the normal and reasonable movement of traffic, except when reduced speed is necessary for safe operation or in compliance with law.

(2) If the driver of a motor vehicle is driving at so slow a speed as to impede or block the normal and reasonable movement of traffic, a peace officer may require the driver to increase his or her speed, or to remove the motor vehicle from the roadway to the nearest suitable place and to refrain from causing or allowing the motor vehicle to move from that place until directed to do so by a peace officer."

Thank-you,

Stephen Chessor"

Shared pathways or Multi use pathways

The difference with these "highways" are that they are restricted to pedestrians, cyclists, and some other mobility devices. Most often there are markings to designate separate areas for cyclists and pedestrians. I recommend you follow normal traffic flow which is to stay right except to pass. In reality pedestrians often take the opposite approach. As a cyclist you are duty bound by etiquette, if not statute, to alert pedestrians that you intend to pass calling out accordingly. A bell ring in advance and a thanks to follow keeps everyone safe and happy.

I explored the link at the

I explored the link at the start of the question and found this page https://www.gallopinggoosetrail.com/galloping_goose_trail.html which includes:

Trail Etiquette & Tips

  • Share the trail and keep right except to pass.
  • Cyclists yield to pedestrians, control your speed and warn other users before passing.
  • Remember to bring water and stay hydrated.
  • Keep dogs under control or on a leash and please pick up after your pets.
  • Respect private property adjacent to the trail.
  • Pass horseback riders with caution, horses may startle easily.
  • At night, all users should carry a light and wear reflective clothing.
  • Do your part to keep the trail clean, don't litter.
  • Please respect wildlife.

I'd hope that the above is posted along the trail. Here are more recommendations on the general subject: https://cyclingsavvy.org//2020/05/shared-use-paths-part-1-etiquette/

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