Jeremy Hopwood

Jeremy Hopwood

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Bike Safety in Vancouver - Complaining Sometimes Has a Purpose

So on Tuesday I got buzzed by a garbage truck on my way to work. Often in these situations the first thought that comes to mind is to take out some U-lock justice. Now the fact was that I was not riding with a U_Lock and this really achieves no good anyway as just creates a culture of tension between motorists and cyclists and in the end it is never the cyclist who wins in the long term with this scenario.

So what do I do, just stew and go that was annoying and go on. Well not in this instance, as it was a City of Vancouver Garbage Truck I memorized the number plate, noted the time and location of the incident and wrote the following email (edited to remove number plate details)


Just wanted to report that when I riding my bicycle to work on Tuesday the 13th of April south Bound on McDoanld prior to King Edward Avenue I had a garbage truck (Right Hand Drive so spatial sense should not be an issue) pass me leaving approx 1 Foot of space which had the potential to push me towards parked cars.

At the time there was sufficient room for the driver to overtake at at a safe distance (3 foot + ) and the aggressive driving had the potential to cause an incident which when riding a bike can have serious consequences. I am not sure if this is an awareness thing but wanted to raise this as a point of concern especially as the City of Vancouver is promoting green modes of transportation. Luckily I am quite confident on my bike and ride a significant distance each year so while this incident annoyed me it will not put me off cycling.

However if I was a new rider this type of incident could result in me not riding again for fear of the consequences.

Thanks for your time in looking into this and the education process for city drivers.


In Vancouver there are a few places to send this correspondence. In this instance I sent this to the following emails;
  • General city email -
  • Cycling issue specific email address for the city -
  • The Email List for the mayor and all Councillors -
  • The Advocacy Group for Vancouver Cyclists -
In the end what I hope is that any correspondence like this can help raise awareness around safe driving around cyclists. I have heard of people getting buzzed by Translink buses and while this like the incident above is likely the exception sending a note to raise awareness id the responsible thing to do. In fact writing this blog post took more time than it did form me to send the above email.

For more information on the Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition (VACC) who are the advocacy group for Lower mainland cyclists visit -

Another interesting resource and demonstration of how to educate both cyclists and drivers about safety can be seen by the Amy Gillett foundation in Australia. Amy Gillett was an Australia Cyclist who had represented Australia in Cycling and Rowing and was killed while training with the Australian team by a motorist in Germany. her family and friends have continued her legacy by creating the Amy Gillett Foundation which mission is to to reduce the number of deaths and injuries caused by interactions between motorists and cyclists. One of their campaigns that is garnering a lot of momentum is A Metre Matters - looking to educate drivers about overtaking at a safe distance. Through a variety of media mediums they are working on this education process.

In the end its all about education and not confrontation and this a two way street. I hope my decision not to chase down the truck and give the driver a piece of my mind and instead raise this issue with my local council will in turn raise awareness of how cyclists and motorists can co-exist on the road. Chances are the driver did not realize the precarious situation his overtaking maneuverer put me in but if these risks can be pro actively communicated the roads will be safer for all.

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