Cyclists stake out bike route to document drivers’ traffic violations

Driver traffic violations on the Ontario bike route.

The war of words between drivers and cyclists shows little sign of abating.

In the wake of cyclist outrage about a “crackdown” on riders by ticket-issuing members of the VPD, a group of cyclists has staked out the Ontario bike route at 10th Ave. to monitor drivers for violations.

The results, distributed to media outlets today, were unsurprising. Citizens for Safe Bikeways claimed to have documented 18 dangerous incidents in a few hours.

(No doubt a similar stakeout by driver could produce worrying results for cyclist.)

As I learned late last month, when I brought together several VPD officers responsible for traffic enforcement for a discussion with some leading members of the cycling community, it comes down to resources.

My mailbox receives demands daily, from both motorists and cyclists, for a crackdown on the other side. To crack down on everyone, everywhere, would require a second police department.

This problem will take new partnerships, new resources and time to resolve. Education will be more effective than enforcement alone, although enforcement must be part of the equation. In my opinion, these efforts must be provincial in scope, although we can do more at the city level.

In the meantime, be careful out there.

Here’s the full text of the release:

During a two hour period volunteers recorded 18 incidents of dangerous and illegal driving on a single block of a popular bike route in Vancouver.
At the location along the 10th Avenue bike route Citizens for Safe Bikeways (CSB) recorded the following:
•    11 incidents of driving the wrong way through the traffic circle
•    7 incidents of driving through a “No Entry except bicycles” sign
•    1 incident of passing a cyclist without leaving 1 metre of space
The incidents were all photographed. License plate numbers and vehicle descriptions are being forwarded to the Vancouver Police Department and ICBC.
The multiple examples of motor vehicles driving the wrong way through a traffic circle are especially concerning.
This traffic circle is at the intersection of two heavily used bicycle routes. There are tall buildings and trees on the corner most commonly used by short-cutting vehicles giving them limited visibility.
On average the short-cutting happens once every 11 minutes.
The group spoke with two people who live in buildings on this corner. One mentioned that her partner had almost been struck twice by short-cutting vehicles on the wrong side of the road. Another mentioned that she thought the frequency of traffic circle short-cutting was normally higher than what we had observed.
CSB advocates for a evidence-based approach to improving cycling safety. We believe that we should look at how enforcement is handled in jurisdictions that have better safety records for cyclists than Vancouver does.
Recent crack downs by the Vancouver Police have appeared to focus on punishing relatively safe behaviour while ignoring more dangerous behaviour by both motor vehicles and cyclists on cycling routes.
High resolution photos of the incidents are available.
For more information contact Rob Baxter at 778.869.8333 or robert@recov.org.