As John Bird rode his motorcycle down highway 23, he was struck by the beautiful scenery, he was struck by the finely-paved winding road, and then Bird was struck by a kayak that flew out of a truck in front of him.
“I just stared in horror as the kayak on the right-hand side of the truck came straight at me,” said Bird.
Bird has joined other BC residents in advocacy against ICBC’s no-fault insurance policy that he said has left him with minimal coverage since a near fatal crash, forcing him to rely on his own insurance from Alberta.
On his red 2002 Honda VTX 1,800 motorcycle, Bird was out for a relatively short ride back from Nakusp, where he’d rode to have lunch, to his home in Malakwa on Jun. 23, 2021.
(Malakwa is a settlement in Shuswap Country along the Trans-Canada Highway between Sicamous and Revelstoke.)
With over 200,000 kilometres on his bike’s odometer, Bird was used to much longer rides. Having toured most of the country over the years in the saddle, Bird was already a veteran rider. After disembarking the ferry at Shelter Bay, Bird was heading North on highway 23.
“I looked at my mirror and I could see a pickup truck coming up behind me at a pretty good rate of knots,” said Bird.
Seeing the truck coming behind him, Bird looked to the oncoming lane and saw a vehicle coming down a hill. The truck behind Bird pulled out to pass him, speeding towards the vehicle in the oncoming lane before cutting sharply into the lane in front of Bird. Once the truck was in front of Bird, two kayaks in the bed caught some wind and flew out.
“The kayak on the right-hand side of the truck came straight at me, and it never hit the ground. And the next thing I know, I was bracing for impact,” said Bird.
Bird crashed, and woke up to see a man upside down.
“He says, ‘oh, you’re alive,’” Bird said.
After falling off of his motorcycle, Bird tumbled into a grove of trees, where he was wedged inverted between several branches. The man who found Bird had already called emergency services. After cutting the surrounding branches with chainsaws, the paramedics were able to free Bird from the trees and load him into an ambulance.
Bird’s neck was broken in two places and he discovered later that both knees were dislocated, too.
In the same month as Bird’s crash, eight motorcycle riders in BC died in crashes, according to a report from the BC Coroners Service. On Jul. 3, 2022 – just a year and ten days after Bird’s crash – another rider was killed after he was struck by a tire that came loose from a trailer on Highway 1.
Motorcycle deaths have trended downwards in BC since 2018 when over 50 riders were lost. Last year, 37 motorcycle riders died on the road.
Based on the statistics, riders assume significant risk whenever they get on their bike — many riders try to do so as safely as possible, including wearing all the protective equipment they can and practicing defensive driving.
The difference between Bird’s case and that of the rider who died this year is the difference between an accident and negligence. It’s unlikely that the driver of the truck towing the trailer could have prevented that accident, but the driver of the truck carrying the kayaks could’ve secured his load.
“The problem is it should have never happened,” said Bird adding that he’d seen several people since his accident hauling unsecured cargo.
“I’ve seen plenty of kayaks, still just tossed into the back of a pickup truck. Nothing secure and down.”
Securing cargo is a legal responsibility in BC. Failure to do so can not only result in a fine, but can put others on the road – like Bird – at risk.
In response to Bird’s claims, ICBC stated that Bird, an Alberta driver with Alberta auto insurance, was covered through his out-of-province insurance policy which acted as his primary insurance coverage in this case, regardless of who was responsible for the crash.
They added that they requested information on Bird’s insurance coverage, to which the provider refused to provide any information. Given the opportunity, ICBC says they could have stepped in as the secondary insurer if there were any gaps in Bird’s coverage.
ICBC also said that Bird informed them in 2021 that his Alberta insurance provider had been “more than fair” in dealing with his claim.
For more information on the support ICBC provides following a crash, visit ICBC’s website.
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