British Columbia

Police campaign targets careless cyclists in Vancouver

Vancouver police are introducing an information campaign to educate bicyclists about the dos and don'ts when they head out onto the roads.

Some bicycle riders not thrilled about warnings during bike month

A Vancouver police officer talks to a bicyclist Friday about safety on the road. ((CBC))

Vancouver police are introducing an information campaign to educate bicyclists about the dos and don'ts when they head out onto the roads.

The Cycling Safety Ticketing Campaign begins with traffic police officers patrolling the streets and warning cyclists about traffic offences such as not obeying a stop sign and not wearing a helmet.

"It really is important to understand that most cyclists that are injured on the highways and on the cycle paths have no contact with another vehicle," said Sgt. Paul Ballard of the Vancouver Police Department's traffic section.

"It's falls, it's spills, it's avoiding some kind of a hazard where the cyclist goes down," he said Friday. "And a head injury is very likely to result just by the nature of that type of an accident."

Police are calling the first stage of the campaign an "education period," during which verbal warnings will be given instead of traffic tickets.

Beginning in July, however, police officers will vigilantly hand out tickets for cycling offences to people who don't obey the laws, Ballard said.

"The fines range from $29 under the Motor Vehicle Act for not wearing a helmet to $109 for most of the other operational offences," he said.

Cyclists who fail to stop at a stop sign, run a red light or fail to yield to pedestrians will be fined $167, he said.

Dean Chan, a resident of Vancouver's Strathcona neighbourhood, said cyclists there don't usually care about the safety of pedestrians. ((CBC))

If a police officer concludes that a cyclist rides a bicycle "without due care," the cyclist will get a ticket with a $195 fine.

Traffic officers started their first patrol Friday in parts of the Adanac Bikeway on the northeast side of the city. It's a 5.5-kilometre route connecting downtown Vancouver and False Creek through Union Street and Adanac Street, according to the city of Vancouver website.

The Adanac is the most-used commuter bikeway in the city with an average of 900 cyclists per day, the website says.

Dean Chan, who lives in the Strathcona neighbourhood along a section of the bikeway, said Friday that many cyclists seem to ignore the safety of pedestrians.

"When you walk your dog or walk yourself or [when I] push my boy in the stroller, you have to be pretty careful," Chan said.

"They [cyclists] rule the route and they have right of way regardless of the stop signs and you better get out of the way."

Cyclist Lorraine Chisholm says police should target bad drivers on the road instead of bicycle riders. ((CBC))

Isabell Mayer, another Strathcona resident, said it is "terrible" there.

"There's not one [cyclist] that even looks one way or the other, you know, [they go] just right through," Mayer told CBC News.

Lorraine Chisholm, a frequent cyclist on the bikeway, said she's not thrilled about the police information campaign.

"I just find it quite astonishing that they would be giving people warnings around this particular stop sign when that stop sign shouldn't be there. It's on a bike route," she said.

Cyclist Tim Cheffins was pulled over by police Friday afternoon for blowing through that stop sign.

"They are there to, like, let you know that the other people have the right of way, so you just sort of wing it," Cheffins said.

Lisa Slakov with the Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition said she's stunned the police campaign is happening in June, which is bike month in the city and some other parts of the province.

She said police instead should target the cyclists' worst enemy — bad car drivers.

"I know so many people who do not bicycle because they simply consider it really unsafe on the streets in the city," Slakov said.