Bike-vehicle crashes on Galloping Goose prompt study

The founder of a website that maps cycling routes says the number of bike-vehicle crashes along the Galloping Goose trail has prompted a new study.

The latest incident happened Tuesday morning, when a 49-year-old cyclist was struck by a truck during her morning commute on the Galloping Goose Trail in Saanich.

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Trisalyn Nelson, a University of Victoria professor who founded BikeMaps.org, said cyclists are reporting to the website a number of incidents along the Galloping Goose where the trail meets the road network. Many incidents go unreported to traditional data sources, such as Insurance Corporation of B.C. claims, said Nelson, an associate professor in the spatial pattern analysis and research lab in UVic’s geography department.

“As a result of citizen reports, we are launching a study of the safety along the Galloping Goose,” said Nelson, who is also a Lansdowne research chair of spatial sciences.

“In B.C. only about 30 per cent of cycling incidents are reported through ICBC,” Nelson said. “It’s only crashes that happen with vehicles that result in insurance claims that are reported.”

Residents map directly on the BikeMaps website, noting hot spots for cycling safety, risk and crime. They identify the location, then provide details of a crash, for example, through drop-down menus and comments, Nelson said. Website administrators analyze the data.

“We really have no other comprehensive data on cycling safety,” Nelson said. “So we have started to try and crowd-source that data, because most people who ride their bikes have a sense of where it’s safe and problematic.”

The website has gone global, with participation from 15 countries, but CRD mappers account for about 50 per cent of what’s been mapped and have reported more than 400 new incidents, Nelson said.

Since October, BikeMaps.org reports, there have been 19 near-misses and 14 crashes along the Galloping Goose.

By comparison, ICBC reported 25 crashes along the Goose between 2009 and 2013, Nelson said.

In Tuesday’s incident, the cyclist collided with a truck driven by a 48-year-old man at the trail’s intersection with Kelvin Road, said Saanich Sgt. John Price.

“The cyclist took the front of the truck in her left thigh, but, thankfully, she was wearing her helmet,” Price said. “She sustained minor contusions with the impact and her fall to the ground.”

The victim was taken to Victoria General Hospital.

The driver was ticketed for failing to yield and for having expired insurance.

The cyclist was using caution and had slowed down through the intersection at Kelvin Road (which turns into Cloverdale Avenue east of Douglas Street), Price said. That lessened the severity of the crash, he said.

Although cars are required to stop for cyclists and pedestrians at intersections along the Galloping Goose, police warn cyclists to use caution. “It’s better to slow down and be alive, than to be dead right,” said Price, traffic unit supervisor.

All around Tuesday’s crash site, there have been near-misses and crashes reported by cyclists, Nelson said.

She hopes from her study to tease out data showing when and where cyclists are having problems and whether better design at trail-road intersections is needed. “We just decided last week to prioritize that study,” Nelson said.

She expects it will take about six months to complete and will be used to inform policy makers.

As more data is logged, the organization intends to develop a system of alerting municipalities to hazards and hopes to influence policy decisions and design of cycling roads, trails and lanes.

ceharnett@timescolonist.com

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