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Riding a bike is not something you'll have to pay insurance for anytime soon in B.C.

File photo: snow falls on bikes in Vancouver. (Stephanie Froese, NEWS 1130 Photo)

Changes aimed at making ICBC more financially stable don't include any licensing upgrades for cyclists

Attorney General David Eby says as a government, they're encouraging people to use other modes of transportation

Some lawyers say changes coming next year to ICBC could make it harder for cyclists hurt in a crash to be compensated

VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) — Attorney General David Eby says he has no interest in making cyclists insure their bikes.

The cabinet minister in charge of the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia admits he has been getting letters from drivers who think bike riders should also buy coverage, but he considers that counter-productive.

“One of the things we’re trying to do as a province is really encourage people to, when they can, use a bike to walk, to use public transit instead of driving and that’s the direction that we’re trying to go for a number of climate and health-related reasons.”

Changes coming next year have some lawyers suggesting it will be harder for bike riders hurt in a crash to be compensated, but Eby says coverage will still be extensive.

“Under the new system, they will, and pedestrians as well, they will be able to access benefits.  Even though the pedestrian or the cyclist has not been paying insurance.”

So why not also charge cyclists for insurance?

Vancouver-based personal injury lawyer Kevin McLaren says that might force more bike riders back into cars.

“The concept of asking a cyclist to pay for insurance is a dangerous one.  I believe they tried that in other jurisdictions, and it just led to fewer people wanting to take up cycling.”

McLaren, who’s a partner with Hammerberg Lawyers, says some cyclists have coverage through their home insurance, but bike riders are usually the ones who suffer most in a crash with a car.

“So if you introduce a system of insurance that really doesn’t penalize the person that’s at fault for the accident, the populations of cyclists and pedestrians are going to be even more vulnerable. Under our current system, you buy insurance on your car, so that you’re protected.The idea of forcing a cyclist to pay for their own insurance is punishing somebody that’s trying to do the right thing by getting a car off the road. Cyclists aren’t the ones causing injury to motor vehicles.”

McLaren adds it is possible to take legal action against a bike rider believed to be responsible for a collision. Still, success often depends on how much the person getting sued can afford to pay out in compensation.