With the pandemic summer officially starting June 20, the B.C. transportation ministry is reminding drivers to provide extra space for horses and others using rural roads.
“During the COVID-19 pandemic, people travelling on foot, bikes and horseback are advised to use appropriate physical distancing when passing others,” the ministry advises in a bulletin. “Horses and their riders are recognized road users in the Motor Vehicle Act. However, drivers may not be expecting these travellers or be aware that loud noises (like horns) or passing vehicles can startle horses.”
The ministry has official roads signs for provincial highways similar to those to help protect cyclists and pedestrians in urban areas. For those looking for extra precautions along routes used by horses, Horse Council B.C. has additional signs and safety gear for riders for sale on its website. A pair of “Horses Live Here” and “Slow Down for Horses” signs is available for $24.95, and reflective vests for riders advising “Pass Slow and Wide, Please” is the same price.
The signs B.C. Horse Council provides are not official road signs and people should check with their local municipality before putting one up on or near any road right-of-way. The procedure for applying to the ministry for an official sign on a provincial road is here.
The ministry recommends riders use reflective vests and high-visibility leg bands for horses to improve safety.
Drivers approaching horses should slow down before getting too close, give the horse and rider the width of one car, brake and accelerate gently, turn music down and if a horse appears agitated, wait for the rider to get it under control before passing.