Motorcyclist deaths in B.C. spike 50% in a year

The number of motorcyclists who died on British Columbia's roads spiked dramatically last year, according to new data released by the B.C. Coroners Service.

Last year saw 51 deaths across the province — higher than any other year over the past decade and a 50 per cent increase compared to 2017, when 34 motorcyclists died.

"Particularly, we saw big increases in the summer months," said Andy Watson, the manager of strategic communications with the coroners service.

In July 2018 alone, for example, there were 19 biker deaths across B.C. In June of that same year there were eight deaths, and 10 motorcyclists died in August.

The B.C. Coroners Service uses the term "motorcyclist" to describe anyone riding a motorcycle, moped, scooter or street-legal, licensed dirt bike on a public road. 

Shane MacKichan

An increase in deaths over summer is partially due to more bikes being on the road during the warmer, drier months. But it also reflects an increase in vehicle accidents in general.

"That kind of late May-June-July and August time period until the Labour Day long weekend in September is when we're seeing the highest proportion of fatalities, not just for motorcyclists but all motor vehicle fatalities in B.C.," Watson said.

According to ICBC, 350 motorcycle riders are injured and 13 are killed on average every July and August in B.C.

'More accidents every week'

For motorcycle instructor Brian Antonio, the numbers are not surprising.

"We're definitely noticing [the increase in deaths] for sure," said Antonio, director of ProRide Motorcycle Training.

"It seems like there's just more and more accidents every week."

Motorcyclist Deaths 2009-2018/B.C. Coroners Service

A lot of different factors can play into the number of deaths on the road, he said, from a lack of safety training to more British Columbians choosing to ride instead of drive.

"The cost of fuel, I think is a really big factor in terms of motivating people to seek out other transportation options," he said, noting that some people choose bikes over cars because of better mileage.

"More and more people are trying to figure out [how to ride] on their own but not necessarily seeking out the proper training," Antonio added.

But, ultimately, he emphasized that motorcycle safety comes down to everyone on the road being more aware and careful.

"If you're in a car and you're driving, make sure that you're aware of what's going on around you," Antonio said.

"And motorcyclists: Ride with caution and do what you can to minimize your risk and get yourself home in one piece."