Cyclist dies in B.C.'s Central Okanagan a week before province-wide biking event

·2 min read
A 70-year-old male cyclist was struck and killed by a car on Highway 97 in northern Kelowna, B.C., on Tuesday morning. (Paul Smith/CBC - image credit)
A 70-year-old male cyclist was struck and killed by a car on Highway 97 in northern Kelowna, B.C., on Tuesday morning. (Paul Smith/CBC - image credit)

A crash that killed a cyclist in B.C.'s Central Okanagan happened a week before the Go By Bike Week, an annual province-wide event that celebrates cycling as a form of commute.

Kelowna RCMP said they responded Tuesday morning to a motor vehicle collision on Highway 97 at Parkinson Drive, in the northern part of the city near Ellison Lake, where a 70-year-old male cyclist was hit by a car and died at the scene.

In an emailed statement to CBC News, Mounties said the man attempted to cross the highway from west to east during the morning rush hour, and was struck by a Honda Fit subcompact car that was travelling northbound.

"Our thoughts are with the victim's family at this difficult time," Kelowna RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Tammy Lobb said in the statement.

RCMP says they are still investigating the incident and have not disclosed further details.

The incident happened a week before Go By Bike Week, which takes place starting May 30. The annual event, which began in 2007, encourages people across the province to go to work and school by bike.

'We have to win the lottery to stay alive'

Landon Bradshaw, president of the Kelowna Area Cycling Coalition, says the incident highlights the need for additional protections for cyclists on the road.

"Every day we have to go out there and more often than not play with traffic," Bradshaw said. "I use the word 'play' very facetiously, but that's what it amounts to — we have to win the lottery to stay alive."

Bradshaw says while drivers can make claims to ICBC for injuries, bicycles are treated as uninsured vehicles, and cyclists are often charged for damages on cars they collided with.

This was the situation Vancouver cyclist Ben Bolliger found himself in last summer. Early this month, following calls for policy changes from cycling advocates, the B.C. government said ICBC would be changing its policy so cyclists who have suffered severe injuries (or died) will not be required to cover costs to repair vehicle damages.

Available ICBC data shows that the number of cyclists being injured by cars across the province dropped steadily during the five years between 2016 to 2020, from 1,700 in 2016 to 1,100 in 2020.

The number of cyclists killed by cars in B.C. decreased from 10 in 2016 to six in 2020. The death toll in the southern Interior region has hovered between one and two cases over the years.

The last cyclist death in Kelowna happened in August 2019, when a 69-year-old paraplegic man who was handcycling was struck and killed after colliding with a car at the intersection of Dilworth Drive and Highway 97.

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