With warmer weather encouraging people to use all forms of transportation, drivers in rural areas are reminded to share the road with others: including horses and their riders.
The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure is making improvements to its signage to alert road users to use extra caution and be courteous when passing horses and riders in rural areas, as horseback riding can increase in the summer months.
New tabs on the ministry’s horse-and-rider signs will now provide more information about where horses can be expected and will remind drivers and riders to “share the road,” as they do with cyclists and pedestrians, to prevent surprise and promote courtesy and safety for all.
Horses and their riders are recognized road users in the Motor Vehicle Act, but drivers passing through rural areas may not be expecting these travellers or be aware that loud noises (like horns) or passing vehicles can startle horses and trigger unpredictable behaviour, causing risk to riders, animals and drivers.
The ministry collaborated with the Horse Council of B.C. regarding improvements to the wording on these signs as well as guidance on placement. The signs are available for any regions that want to improve awareness in areas where horseback riding is popular.
Drivers can watch for signs at the start of any roadway or along narrow or winding roads commonly used for horseback riding. However, even in areas without posted signs, the ministry reminds all travellers to use caution and stay alert for diverse road users.
Drivers are reminded of the following tips when travelling near horses:
- slow down long before getting too close;
- pass at a slower speed and give the horse and rider a wide berth (typically a one-car width);
- brake and accelerate gently to avoid making extra noise or spraying gravel;
- turn off stereos and do not honk, yell or rev the engine;
- if travelling by bicycle, scooter or motorcycle, ride quietly and approach single file;
- if a horse appears agitated, wait for the rider to get it under control before passing; and
- once past the horse and rider, accelerate gradually.
Riders should use caution when travelling on narrow roads or in times of low visibility, such as dusk or dawn. Riders should also wear reflective vests, as well as outfit horses with high-visibility leg bands when possible.
For more information about sharing the road safely with horses and riders, visit: https://www.tranbc.ca/2016/07/06/how-to-share-the-road-safely-with-horseback-riders/