Principles as it Pertains to Cyclists & Vehicles

Dupre v. Patterson, 2013 BCSC 1561 (CanLII)

This is a summary trial application by the Defendant for an Order that the action be dismissed on the basis that the Defendant is not liable.

This collision is between a cyclist (the Plaintiff) and a vehicle (the Defendant). The court concluded that the Defendant was in fact liable, and the Defendant was therefore not successful in this application.

This case has a great outline of the principles as it relates to cyclists v. vehicles.

The relevant legal principles:

The Motor Vehicle Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 318, s. 157(1) provides in relevant part:

Except as provided in section 158, the driver of a vehicle overtaking another vehicle

(a) must cause the vehicle to pass to the left of the other vehicle at a safe distance[.]

[33]        Section 183 provides in relevant part:

183 (1)  In addition to the duties imposed by this section, a person operating a cycle on a highway has the same rights and duties as a driver of a vehicle.

(2) A person operating a cycle

(a) must not ride on a sidewalk unless authorized by a bylaw made under section 124 or unless otherwise directed by a sign,

. . .

(c) must, subject to paragraph (a), ride as near as practicable to the right side of the highway[.]

[34]        The relevant legal principles with respect to accidents involving motor vehicles and cyclists are summarized in Dobre v. Langley, 2011 BCSC 1315 (CanLII), at para. 31:

[31]      The basic principles in a case such as this are obviously well known. For the parties’ benefit, I will relate them in plain words.

 Each person has a duty to look out for others and to take reasonable care that their own actions do not cause others foreseeable harm.

  • Each person has a reciprocal duty to take reasonable steps to look out for their own safety.
  • The degree of care the law expects a person to exercise in a given situation is proportionate to the risks the actors knew about or should have known about, considering all of the relevant circumstances. The greater the risks associated with the activities involved, the greater the degree of care required.
  • Where a judge finds the careless actions of more than one actor, including the injured party, were causes of a person’s harm, the judge can apportion responsibility between them on a percentage basis that reflects the relative blameworthiness of the parties.
  • Even if a judge finds a defendant wholly responsible for the accident’s occurring, they may still reduce the plaintiff’s damages because the plaintiff failed to exercise reasonable care for his or her own safety by taking steps that would have avoided or reduced his or her injuries, such as having failed to wear a seatbelt or a bicycle helmet.
  • The Motor Vehicle Act, R.S.B.C., c. 318 [Motor Vehicle Act], lays down specific rules of the road to regulate the use of highways and crosswalks by motor vehicles, bicyclists and pedestrians. The provisions of the Motor Vehicle Act reflect older common law rules, modified and expanded to reflect the demands of modern traffic.
  • The standard of care expected of a driver is not perfection, but whether they acted as an ordinarily prudent person would act: Hadden v. Lynch, 2008 BCSC 295 (CanLII), 165 A.C.W.S. (3d) 759 at para. 69 [Hadden].


[35]        The standard of care expected of a driver is not perfection, but whether the driver acted as an ordinarily prudent person would act.

Based on the facts of this case, the Defendant was found liable.

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