The number of collisions involving bicycles in Saanich was up 25 per cent in 2018 from the previous year.
That figure appears in the draft version of Saanich’s 2018 annual report. The report records 85 collisions in 2018, up from 68 in 2017. According to the same report, authorities expect a decline in collisions in 2019 with an estimated number of 76. None of the collisions involving bicycles involved fatalities, according to Saanich Police. Collisions involving pedestrians during the same time period included one fatality, a two-year-old toddler.
Sgt. Julie Fast of the Saanich Police said she wouldn’t want to speculate about the reasons behind the increase.
One potential reason for the rise in collisions is the growing number of Saanich residents who ride their bicycles. Consider the share of residents who commute with their bicycles to work. In 2016, 6.3 per cent of commuters used their bicycles, according to the 2018 annual report. By comparison, the 2013 annual report pegs the share at four per cent, based on 2011 figures. In short, bicyclists represent a small but growing share of commuters.
Data from the Capital Regional District — which has been tracking bicycle volumes at intersections throughout the region since 2011 — underscores the pattern. Bicycle traffic has especially risen in Saanich, where two major regional cycling trails intersect: the Galloping Goose Regional Trail and the Lochside Regional Trail. In fact, they intersect near one of the busiest intersections for automobiles in the region — Saanich Road and Blanshard Street — and the Galloping Goose Regional Trail runs along the Trans-Canada Highway for a stretch, crossing McKenzie Avenue at one point. That intersection, by way of background, recorded the highest number of collisions anywhere on Vancouver Island in 2017 with 111 recorded crashes.
Other spots with high volumes of both bicycle and automobile traffic include the area near the intersection of Quadra Street and McKenzie Avenue and the intersection of Henderson Road and Cedar Hill Cross Road near the University of Victoria at the border between Saanich and Oak Bay.
Saanich continues to pursue a number of initiatives to improve the municipality’s bicycling infrastructure, as officials aim to cut the emissions of climate-change causing greenhouse gases.
Fast said the Motor Vehicle Act grants cyclists the same rights and duties on the roadways as it does vehicle drivers, along with a few additional duties specific to cyclists.
“It’s important for cyclists to understand them, as they are designed to help keep them and other road users safe,” she said. “Likewise, [drivers] need to be aware of the rights that cyclists have while on the roadway. It’s all about sharing the road and remaining aware of each other. I’d also suggest cyclists and drivers alike check out ICBC online and Bikesense.bc.ca for some great tips for sharing the road safely.”