E-bike collision on Greater Victoria trail comes weeks before CRD relaunches safety campaign

E-bike collision on Greater Victoria trail comes weeks before CRD relaunches safety campaign
Galloping Goose file photo.

The Capital Regional District (CRD) is gearing up to launch an annual campaign that sees park rangers, bylaw and police enforce popular paths, just weeks after a collision involving a cyclist and pedestrian on the E&N Rail Trail saw both suffer injuries.

The CRD says the annual “Cruise with Courtesy” campaign runs from July to September and promotes increased enforcement during the busy summer months, when more people use the E&N, Galloping Goose and Lochside trails.

The trio of multi-use trails saw a combined 3.9 million visitors, including cyclists and pedestrians, last year alone, according to Andy Orr, the CRD’s senior manager of communications.

“Any area shared by multiple user types creates the potential for conflict, especially when tied with increased use,” said Orr in a statement to CHEK News.

Around 7:45 p.m. Wednesday, June 5, an e-bike rider collided with a pedestrian along the E&N near the Island Highway and Woodbine Court in View Royal. West Shore RCMP says the cyclist clipped the side of the person walking, causing both to fall to the ground and suffer minor injuries. Both were taken to hospital.

According to police, the pedestrian claims the cyclist struck them from behind, while the cyclist says the pedestrian stepped out in front of him. Mounties say the cyclist appeared sober and the pedestrian did not want to press charges.

No witnesses came forward to police, who say their investigation is now closed.

Fines for cyclists

But it’s incidents like this one that have officials stressing the importance of trail safety. While Orr lauds those who do, he says not all users adhere to basic trail etiquette, prompting the annual campaign that starts next month.

He says it encourages trail users to “be kind” and “courteous.”

It targets everyone who uses trails — “those who walk, pedal, wheel and even trot,” explains Orr, who adds that while most follow the rules, “the CRD recognizes that some trail users do not, which can be intimidating or off-putting to others.”

The B.C. government says e-bike riders, for example, must stay to the right, ride single-file, and use hand signals, among other rules. If they don’t, their bikes could be impounded and they could face a $109 fine or other penalties up to $2,000.

Cyclists should also control their speed.

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Cal Whiting with Pedego Electric Bikes in Victoria says e-bikes in B.C. have a maximum motor-assisted speed of 32 km/h and motor power up to 500W.

However, “you can buy bikes online that exceed that (speed),” said Whiting.

He discourages people from doing so, though, calling it dangerous and noting that it goes against Canada’s rules and regulations for e-bike riders.

“When you get someone going by at 80 km/h, it ruins it for everyone,” he said.

Whiting’s noticed an uptick in e-bike sales, which comes as Victoria once again proclaims itself as Canada’s cycling capital.

“CRD regional parks and regional trails are a public good that belongs to everyone in the region, and safety is a shared responsibility,” added Orr.

A person does not need a driver’s license or insurance to operate an e-bike on B.C. roads, though the bike must meet all the requirements of a motor-assisted cycle, such as fully operable pedals, two or three wheels, and a braking system.

“While there are currently no posted speed limits on the trails, electric bikes that meet the motor-assisted cycle definition must be governed so they do not exceed a power output of 500 watts,” said Orr in the statement.

“Cyclists may be stopped by CRD Park Rangers or bylaw officers if they are considered to be riding dangerously, which can include excessive speed.”

Orr says the campaign includes advertising, social media and outreach, with staff also popping up along trails to provide people with information and education.

Whiting says his team advocates for cyclist safety and tells people that when conflict does occur, oftentimes “it’s not the bike, it’s the rider” who’s at fault.

SEE MORE: E-bike rules of the road

Ethan MorneauEthan Morneau

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