Susan Kruzel was cycling back to work from her lunch break in September when a driver flung open her car door, knocking Kruzel off the bike and onto the street.
Kruzel suffered compression fractures to her lower spine, leading to eight months of physiotherapy. Since the accident on Kimta Road, she has been able to sit still only for short periods of time.
“I had no strength, I couldn’t walk, my core muscles had just given up,” said the 52-year-old sergeant, who works in the Cadet Support Unit at Canadian Forces Base Esquimalt.
Kruzel is one of about 170 cyclists involved in bike accidents in a typical summer across Vancouver Island, according to statistics released by the Insurance Corporation of B.C.
With Bike to Work Week coming to an end in the region today, ICBC hopes the figures serve to remind cyclists — and drivers — to be aware of dangers on the road.
In the capital region, an average of 77 cycling accidents occur from May to October. Last year, there were 93.
Victoria has seven intersections that had five cycling accidents from 2008-12. Caledonia Avenue and Douglas Street had the most, with six.
The president of the Greater Victoria Cycling Coalition says the numbers should be a wake-up call for drivers and politicians.
“We live in a society with a transportation system where a privilege is given to automobiles,” Edward Pullman said. “We need infrastructure that gives cyclists a right to be on the road.”
Sixteen accidents were recorded in May last year — the highest number of cycling accidents in that month in the past five years.
But local police say the focus still needs to be on driver safety.
“If I can get all the vehicles on the roadway to act in a responsible manner — like most cyclists do — we wouldn’t have nearly as many issues,” said Sgt. Graeme LeBlanc, a supervisor with the Integrated Road Safety Unit.
For example, LeBlanc said, the intersection of Hillside Avenue and Shelbourne Street had 326 vehicle accidents in five years — the highest in the region — including 113 in which people were killed or injured.
Kruzel, who is slowly starting to cycle again, hopes her accident serves as a reminder to road users.
“I’ve seen really crazy things. Vehicles are really impatient with pedestrians and cyclists. We all need to be patient,” she said.