Comment: Cyclist collisions deserve thorough investigations

A commentary in response to the recent fatal collision involving a cyclist.

As a retired coroner, I am well aware of what could and should happen regarding a crash investigation, whether it involves a pedestrian vs. vehicle, vehicle vs. vehicle or vehicle vs. bicycle.

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In September 2016, while I was riding my bicycle southbound on Wharf Street having turned right off Johnson Street, I was struck by a recreational vehicle.

My crash occurred at about 4 p.m. at the busy intersection of Wharf and Johnson Streets. Victoria police and Emergency Health Services paramedics attended.

I was subsequently transported by ambulance to Victoria General Hospital where it was determined I had suffered fractures to both arms and my face, a serious concussion and multiple abrasions and soft-tissue injuries.

I still deal with concussion-related issues daily, including having to stop working. I have had two subsequent surgeries because of this crash.

The investigation into my crash did not involve the traffic crash analysis team. It did not involve the attendance of an officer experienced in crash analysis. It did not involve securing the scene enough to allow the taking of witness statements. Apparently all witnesses had gone about their day as the scene was cleared. Two months later, a witness called police stating she saw me being struck, and only then was her statement taken.

Photographs were taken and within a very brief time the scene was cleared. The driver of the recreational vehicle was not charged with any kind of an infraction.

I sought legal representation.

Cycling crashes should warrant the same kind of thorough review as any other incident investigated by police or any other agency.

It should not take a cyclist dying to have a complete and comprehensive review and investigation. Any cycling crash where someone has suffered injuries should warrant the attendance of an officer or ­officers experienced and trained in crash analysis.

It should be that expertise that determines the degree of the cycling crash investigation to be conducted.

The investigation should not rely on officers inexperienced in crash analysis to interpret the scene or the degree of injuries suffered by the cyclist.

Not only can this initial misinterpretation compromise the scene investigation, it can also compromise legal issues which may follow.

The investigation by the coroners service is only as good as the analysis provided by the expertise of crash analysts involved in the case.

Police should have the availability of these highly trained officers 24/7 to investigate cycling crashes just as they would any other type of crash.

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