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Rollerblader: pedestrian, not cyclist – Vancouver ICBC injury

Recent BC Supreme Court decision confirms that Rollerbladers (inline skates) are treated like pedestrians, not cyclists according to Vancouver and BC law for personal injury and Vancouver ICBC claim.

With Spring approaching, many warm weather joggers, rollerblading, and cycling enthusiasts are taking to the streets and sidewalks of Vancouver and the lower mainland.

In Vancouver and British Columbia, different laws apply to bicycles verus pedestrians, therefore an interesting question arises whenever there is a collision that results in personal injury to someone on inline skates (*aka rollerblades).   Should they be treated like a pedestrian, or a cyclist?  This question was answered in the very recent decision by the BC Supreme Court in Chabot v. Chaube2014 BCSC 300 where the plaintiff was struck while rollerblading across and through an intersection, by using a marked crosswalk.

The Court found that, under the laws of Vancouver and British Columbia, rollerbladers are held to the same legal standards as a pedestrian, and not a cyclist.  

In this case, that meant that, although the rollerblading/pedestrian Plaintiff technically had the right of way,  she was still 10% at fault for the collision because of the speed at which she crossed the intersection – a speed that “exceeded a quick jog.”

This does not mean that the pedestrian Plaintiff on wheels didn’t get any money for her injuries.  It simply means that her money award for damages would be reduced by her share of the fault, in this case 10%.

However, the Court’s decision in this case does not make it clear whether the outcome would be the same, (that a rollerblader would still be treated as a pedestrian and not a cyclist), if a collision were to occur between a motorist and someone on inline skates, if that person was simply using a bicycle lane, or normal traffic lanes, instead of a crosswalk, at the time of the accident.

If you have been injured as a cyclist, pedestrian, on rollerblades, or under any other circumstances that might lead to a claim against ICBC or anybody else, it is important that you consult with a lawyer to discuss your rights and determine how much money you might be entitled to as compensation for your personal injuries.

MacLean Law’s Vancouver Personal Injury and ICBC Claims Department offers FREE consultations and we only get paid when we win your case.

If you are interested in knowing more you can find out how Mr. Justice Brown reached this division of fault in the following reasons, or you can read the entire Court decision by clicking here:

[30] The defendant [the car driver] should not have rolled to a stop and proceed as she did, considering the traffic, the time of day and the marked crosswalk in front of her.  Her passenger [in the car] saw the plaintiff [on rollerblades] and called out a warning.

[31] As for the plaintiff, [the rollerblader], once she chose to skate across the intersection, she should have skated at a pace that was slow enough to allow her to stop as quickly as if she were walking or at most slowly jogging, which is, for all practical purposes, instantaneously, after allowing a moment to see and react. In other words, she departed from the standard of care of a reasonable person in similar circumstances.  By skating at a fairly brisk jog, she failed to exercise sufficient care for her own safety when crossing a busy intersection during morning rush hour at UBC…

[34] The plaintiff, [the rollerblader],  was not walking.  She was travelling considerably quicker than a pedestrian walking.  She does not have to guard against every conceivable eventuality, or to assume a vehicle in the designated right turn lane might not respect her right of way.  Only, considering the circumstances, to be more vigilant and to take reasonable precautions for her own safety, considering she was skating across the intersection, could not see traffic on the other side of the bus and could not stop as quickly as she could on foot.

[35]  The law does not declare the plaintiff broke the law by skating across the crosswalk.  Cyclists are obligated to dismount when they enter a crosswalk, see s. 183(1)(b) of the Motor Vehicle Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 318.  But the Motor Vehicle Act does not include roller blades in its definition of “cycle”, see s. 119(1) “cyclist”; they are pedestrians. Further, I appreciate inline skating is a popular way to get around in good weather.  Some road skaters appear very adept and agile skaters. I accept the plaintiff was an experienced skater and that she knew how to stop properly on skates.  She was not obliged to remove her skates to cross.  But having chosen to skate across the crosswalk, she needed to take reasonable precautions for her own safety, commensurate with her speed and visibility of traffic beyond the stopped bus.

[36]  As noted in Karran, “fault may vary from extremely careless conduct, by which the party shows a reckless indifference or disregard for the safety of person or property, whether his own or others, down to a momentary or minor lapse of care in conduct which, nevertheless, carries with it the risk of foreseeable harm.”  I find the plaintiff’s, [the rollerblader’s], conduct falls within the range of a momentary or minor lapse of conduct, which nevertheless, carries with it the risk of foreseeable harm.  Based on this finding, and the circumstance that she was always within a marked crosswalk, I apportion 90% fault to the [car driver] defendant and 10% to the [rollerblader] plaintiff.

If you have been injured as a cyclist, pedestrian, on rollerblades, or under any other circumstances that might lead to a claim against ICBC or anybody else, it is important that you consult with a lawyer to discuss your rights and determine how much money you might get to compensation for your personal injuries.

Our Vancouver ICBC and personal injury claims lawyers can be reached at 604-602-9000 or request your FREE initial consultation now simply by clicking here.



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