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At least three cyclists hit over five-day span in South Okanagan
A mangled bike, under the wheels of a vehicle, was a grim reminder to cyclists and drivers that they share the road.
Monday afternoon a Penticton teen riding his bicycle on the sidewalk ran into a trailer being pulled by a truck making a right-hand turn from Main Street onto Warren Avenue.
“This could have been deadly,” said Cpl. Martin Trudeau. “Had the cyclist been going at a different pace, he could have easily gone right under the trailer before the truck stopped. It could have been really bad and he could have been crushed.”
RCMP said the driver of the truck did nothing wrong in this incident and the cyclist most likely wasn’t aware the vehicle was pulling a trailer. The teen was rushed to hospital, but was lucky, said Trudeau, that he did not suffer any broken bones or worse. RCMP also did not see a bicycle helmet at the scene.
“Everyone needs to pay attention, both cyclists and vehicle drivers. That is the number one thing, people often become complacent whether on a bicycle or driving a vehicle,” Trudeau said. “This is a busy time of year and there is more vehicle and bicycle traffic. People need to have patience and respect with each other on the road.”
On average, 160 cyclists are injured every month from May to October in the province, according to ICBC. Over the course of five days, RCMP responded to at least three calls in the South Okanagan.
Osoyoos Cpl. Jason Bayda said an 18-year-old cyclist was taken to hospital in Kelowna with serious, but non-life threatening injuries, after being struck by a vehicle on May 29 around 10:15 p.m. The 29-year-old Osoyoos man driving a 1996 Jeep Cherokee struck the cyclist and departed before checking on the 18-year-old or speaking with RCMP.
“The suspect driver failed to remain at the scene to render assistance and instead fled the area, despite the wishes and pleading of his passengers,” said Bayda.
The driver was located and arrested the following day for failing to stop at the scene of a collision and criminal negligence causing bodily harm. Bayda said alcohol is believed to have played a “big role in this collision” and the police are recommending a further charge of impaired driving causing bodily harm. The driver was released from custody and is to make his first appearance in Penticton court on July 9.
Penticton RCMP received another call of a cyclist and motor vehicle incident on Saturday, just before 5 p.m. A teen on a bicycle was riding opposite to the flow of traffic on the sidewalk on the corner of Eckhardt Ave. W. and Comox Street when he was struck by a taxi cab. Trudeau said it was minor contact and the teen rode off after speaking with emergency services. No one was charged in the incident.
“They both stopped, saw each other, then got going at the same time. Both the driver and the cyclist left by the time police arrived,” he said.
Cpl. Trudeau, an avid cyclist himself, said he has seen scary situations between vehicles and bike riders as they try to stake their territory on the roads.
“I have seen some horrible things, like vehicles trying to veer towards cyclists to scare them, and on the other hand, cyclists encroaching onto vehicle right-of-ways. There is this ongoing frustration with the calls we get about this,” he said.
Trudeau said cyclists must abide by the same rules as a car, but there must also be courtesy.
“There is a lot of confusion out there. Cyclists, unless they get off their bikes to walk across intersections, must follow the same rules as a car at stop signs,” said Trudeau. “If you have to be behind a bicycle, for example on Eastside Road, slow down and give them space. That 10 seconds you lose on your 10-minute trip is not a big deal.”
ICBC said drivers should actively watch for cyclists and make eye contact whenever possible to let them know they are seen. Drivers should always shoulder check before turning right and watch for oncoming cyclists when turning left and signal well in advance. They suggest to leave three seconds of following distance to allow cyclists the time to react to unexpected hazards.
Penticton Safety Village is hosting a cycling education course on June 10 for ages eight to 13 to learn bike safety essentials and practice safe riding skills to develop safe habits and attitudes. For more information contact them at 250-492-1176.