An RCMP officer has been cleared of wrongdoing in a collision with a cyclist that led to serious injuries last year after the officer failed to signal a turn.
On Sept. 12, 2019, an RCMP officer was driving a marked police vehicle northbound on Admirals Road in View Royal. As he was turning right onto Seenupin Road, the vehicle collided with a cyclist who was thrown over the hood and onto the pavement. The female cyclist was seriously injured according to a report from the Independent Investigations office of B.C. (IIO).
After the incident, the IIO was notified and began an investigation that involved statements from civilian and police witnesses, evidence from an RCMP investigation and video.
On Tuesday, the IIO released its decision on the investigation saying that while the officer did not signal his turn, it is only an offence to not do so if traffic may be affected by the turning vehicle. In this case, the decision says the officer could not have reasonably been aware of the cyclist due to poor visibility and the fact that the lane she was cycling in, while appearing to be a bike lane, was actually just a paved shoulder by law. Oncoming traffic is also unable to turn left onto Seenupin Road.
“If [the cyclist] were travelling in a legitimate parallel lane of traffic – a ‘designated bike lane’ – then [the officer’s] duty would be particularly onerous,” the decision says. “However, [the cyclist] was riding on what was, in law, only a paved shoulder, which is nor more than an extension of the northbound lane.”
In addition, video from the officer’s vehicle shows the cyclist was approaching along the shoulder at a fast speed, was wearing dark clothing and did not have a front light on the bicycle.
The decision says that Admirals Road features a marked, designated bike lane on each side but at the boundary between Esquimalt and the Songhees First Nation, the periodic stencilled bike lane symbols in the northbound lane no longer exist because it is no longer a bike lane. There is also a sign indicating that cyclists can ride on the sidewalk about 150 metres down the road.
“By law she is expected to understand she was no longer in a bicycle lane,” the decision says.
While the cyclist could drive on the roadway, she wasn’t legally allowed to pass vehicles on the side since she wasn’t in a bike lane and the duty for the officer to check for a vehicle passing was “somewhat reduced accordingly,” the decision says.
“The only user affected was [the civilian witness] who was affected not by the turn but by the braking and slowing that accompanied it, and he was alerted to that decrease in speed by the operation of [the officer’s] brake lights,” the decision says.