It’s one thing to be in a cycling accident, it’s quite another to have a video record of it. But that’s the case for Anthony Floyd.
He was riding his bike to work at about 9 a.m., May 23, heading west along Southwest Marine Drive, when a driver travelling south on Macdonald Street pulled into the cycling lane while trying to turn left on to Southwest Marine Drive.
She appeared not to see Floyd who managed to slow down slightly before impact. He was thrown from his bike. Construction workers came to his rescue and called an ambulance.
— Anthony Floyd (@AnthonyFloyd) May 23, 2018
Const. Jason Doucette of the Vancouver Police Department told the Courier in an email that BC Ambulance informed the VPD about the collision. The driver remained at the scene and is cooperating with police.
Floyd was taken to hospital. His injuries include some cuts, bruises and soft tissue damage.
Floyd is a HUB Cycling volunteer and has been active in advocating for people on bikes with HUB’s Vancouver/UBC Local Committee for a few years. He’s also been involved with the changes to the Seaside Greenway on the south side of False Creek, and the efforts to move the Seaside Greenway from running through the parking lot at Kits Beach to a safer route.
Floyd has been riding back and forth to UBC for about 21 years — first as a graduate student, and now as an employee of a private company on the campus. He rides daily, year-round. His usual route takes him from the Vancouver General Hospital area along the off-Broadway bike route to UBC. He puts on about 5,000 kilometres a year.
Floyd mounted a camera under his handles bars after an incident in Kitsilano in 2010. A driver was going the wrong way through a traffic circle directly into Floyd’s path. Floyd was riding the correct direction.
“We came to a stop with his bumper against my front tire, and then he started pushing me backward through the traffic circle with his bumper. I didn’t get hurt and there was no damage to my bike, but it sure spooked me. And almost nobody believed me as I talked about it,” Floyd wrote in an email to the Courier.
“So, I’ve been riding with the camera, recording almost every commute since then. I occasionally post videos of near misses and dangerous driving, including one where the driver of an SUV chased me down, forced me off the road, and proceeded to threaten me from the comfort of his driver’s seat — in Point Grey.”
The May 23 collision was Floyd’s first crash. He’s never suffered an injury until then.
This is what happened in his own words. (It has been edited for length.) He includes advice for motorists and cyclists in the lead up to Bike to Work Week, which runs May 28 to June 3.
BIKE ROUTE TO WORK
On this particular day, I was a bit early heading into work and rather than ride off-Broadway through Kits — which, ironically, I consider relatively dangerous because of all the cross streets through Kits and the “car canyons” where cars park on both sides of the road leaving about a vehicle’s width of available street — I decided to take the Arbutus Greenway… and then the Southwest Marine Drive bike lane.
Southwest Marine Drive had a bike lane painted on the shoulders during the recent sewer work, and had some barriers and bollards installed in a few places. It is a city-designated bike route. There have been some issues with the bike lane along there and Urban Systems did a safety audit in the fall of 2016 and the city issued a response in the fall of 2017. The issue of vehicles crossing or turning from side streets was not one of the problems identified but looking at bikemaps.org, I see that in January 2018 there was another collision (at Crown) almost identical to the collision I was involved in.
I was lucky. I managed to slow the bike down enough that I didn’t splatter myself into the side of the vehicle. And I think me T-boning the car was better than it T-boning me. I idly wonder if going over the hood of the car might have been better than hitting the side like I did, but it’s not really something I want to experiment with to find out. Regardless, it could have been much worse than it was and I’m grateful it wasn’t. Some kind people from the construction site helped me off the road to the grassy corner, provided me with water, and called the ambulance. The driver stopped immediately and co-operated. Others stopped and helped too, but I’m sad to say that I don’t quite recall all the details. Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services arrived and provided first aid, and then BC Ambulance paramedics showed up and whisked me away to the hospital. I suffered some cuts, bruises, and soft tissue damage but the emergency room doctor doesn’t think anything was broken and I probably didn’t suffer a concussion. It remains to be seen what the long-term consequences will be, but as I said, I’m feeling grateful it’s not worse.
ADVICE TO MOTORISTS: PAY ATTENTION
In general, motorists need to be more mindful when they are crossing bike routes. I have seen many cases where a motorist is fixated on cars and trucks and completely ignores or doesn’t even look for people on bikes. I have had many cases where a motorist notices me at the last minute, either because I’ve come to a stop beside their window and am yelling at them, or because they’ve turned and looked at the last minute. A common thing bike commuters hear is “I didn’t see you!” but often the reason is not because people on bikes are invisible, but because the motorist didn’t look.
If you’re crossing a bike route you should be constantly looking for people on bikes. Do not intrude into or block a bike lane. Do not move, roll, or creep into a bike lane without firmly establishing there’s not a bike coming. I understand that the design of some intersections makes that difficult, but it’s still the responsibility of the motorist to not cause a dangerous situation. (I’m focusing on bike lanes here, but clearly this should apply *everywhere*.) Also, not all people on bikes obey the traffic rules (much in the same way that not all people driving obey the traffic rules) and even if you have right-of-way while crossing or travelling on a bike lane, be mindful that a vehicle outweighs a person on a bike by a factor of 100 or more and a collision never turns out in the cyclist’s favour.
Of course, to do this they need to be aware they are crossing bike routes. Where my collision occurred, it seems like there are no signs telling motorists they’re crossing a bike route, and there’s none of the green paint that you will see in other parts of the city that clearly indicate conflict zones on bike lanes. There are other ways of reducing conflicts at intersections like this, such as putting in diverters (so-called “right-in-right-out” diverters that only allow right turns on to a street and right turns out of a street) that reduce the traffic volume at the intersection or by putting in cul-de-sacs to prevent motor vehicle traffic at all (like at 7th/Oak). You may notice that where I had the collision, there is a signalized intersection less than 250 metres west at 49th/SW Marine, which provides a safer way for everyone to get on and off of Southwest Marine Drive.
CYCLING IN VANCOUVER
In general, riding a bike in Vancouver is relatively safe and getting safer every year. The city has put in a lot of effort in establishing bicycle infrastructure, particularly in the central core. This is reflected in the increasing numbers of people who ride their bike to work, school, and shopping. Bike infrastructure makes a huge difference to the actual safety (i.e. the injury stats) and the perceived safety (how comfortable people on bikes feel while riding). And as the safety increases, so do the numbers and types of people who cycle. I’ve definitely seen a shift from “hardcore” cyclists to people of all ages and abilities riding their bikes. And a huge uptick in the number of women riding compared to years ago.
There are still problem areas that are less safe than others — in particular the “local street bikeways” can be problematic as they can be little more than street signs with bikes on them and sharrows [shared lane markings] painted on the roads. Signs and paint don’t protect anyone, but the low vehicle volume on those roads and the presence of more people on bikes (which raises the awareness of motorists that those roads have bikes on them) makes them more palatable than other non-designated local roads. The protected/separated bike lanes tend to be very safe.
BIKE TO WORK WEEK: MAY 28 TO JUNE 3
In context of Bike to Work Week, I don’t think my crash should deter anyone from trying it. I might suggest not riding Southwest Marine unless you are very comfortable anticipating erratic movements of traffic, but many of the other routes are safer. If anything, I hope the video highlights the need for motorists to be more careful and mindful of people on bikes, and for people on bikes to be wary of erratic movements of vehicles. If you watch the video, you’ll see that I started slowing down as soon as I saw the car intruding into the bike lane (but while there was still room to go around it) and *almost* brought the bike to a stop by the time the motorist drove the car in front of me.
In the end, it’s *people* on bikes. We’re parents, children, siblings, spouses, partners… people. And without a cage of steel and glass around us, we’re much more vulnerable than people driving motor vehicles. Despite the “us-versus-them” attitudes that sometimes get expressed when talking about cycling in Vancouver, I don’t think anyone wants to purposely injure someone else.
WHY HE CYCLES: REWARDS OUTWEIGH RISKS
Biking to work has always been an important part of my work day, as I arrive at work refreshed and ready to start the day, even on those days where I might have had an “adverse vehicle interaction.” Not having to deal with the congestion on transit or the frustration of driving to work, the cost savings involved with that, and the physical benefits greatly outweigh the risks. As soon as I am able, I will be back on my bike riding to work. I sincerely believe there has never been a safer time to ride a bicycle in Vancouver but there is still work to be done to make it even better.