Road Safety Information

Vulnerable Road Users

Last Updated on October 12, 2021

Pedestrians, motorcyclists, and bicyclists are considered to be vulnerable road users since they do not have the protective shell of a vehicle in case of a collision.

Prevalence:

In 2019, 31 percent of collision fatalities in Canada were vulnerable road users (18 percent pedestrians, 11 percent motorcyclists, and 2 percent bicyclists) according to Transport Canada’s National Collision Database (NDDC)[1]https://tc.canada.ca/en/road-transportation/statistics-data/canadian-motor-vehicle-traffic-collision-statistics-2019. Pedestrian fatalities declined by 17 percent between 2008 and 2019. Between 2008 and 2019, motorcyclist fatalities decreased by 1 percent and bicyclist fatalities decreased 11 percent.

Since 2016, there has been a sharp increase in the use of mobility devices such as e-bikes and e-scooters (collectively referred to as “micro-mobility”). While it is still early in the implementation of shared micro-mobility programs in Canada, preliminary data from a two-year pilot in the City of Calgary (Alberta) indicated that for e-scooters, 1 in 1,500 trips resulted in emergency room visits and 1 in 100,000 trips required an overnight hospital stay.

Guidelines for the effective accommodation of micro-mobility devices can be found here:

Countermeasure:

To lessen the toll of death and injury among the most vulnerable road users, a range of countermeasures has been developed. For example, municipalities have implemented a variety of measures in residential areas that include speed humps, narrowed streets, curb extensions, speed limits of 30 or 40 km/hr in school zones and high-pedestrian areas, and the use of automated speed cameras. At signalized intersections, effective safety measures separate transportation modes in time and space with protected-only left-turn phases, leading pedestrian intervals where pedestrians cross before vehicles, and separate signal phases for bicycle and pedestrian movements.

Detailed information on countermeasures for vulnerable road users can be found in the following publications and websites:

While the Safe System Approach promotes improvements in the built environment and road design to protect vulnerable road users, road users can also increase their own safety by practicing risk-reduction behaviours. Some examples are as follows:

Vulnerable Road Users FAQs:

What percentage of road fatalities in Canada are vulnerable road users (i.e., pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcyclists)?
In 2019, 31 percent of fatalities were vulnerable road users (18 percent pedestrians, 11 percent motorcyclists, and 2 percent bicyclists).
What measures have municipalities introduced to protect vulnerable road users in residential areas?
Municipalities have implemented such measures as speed humps, narrowed streets, curb extensions, speed limits of 30 or 40 km/hr and automated speed cameras. At signalized intersections, effective safety measures involve separating transportation modes in time and space. Examples of these include protected-only left-turn phases, leading pedestrian intervals, where pedestrians cross before vehicles, and separate signal phases for bicycle and pedestrian movements.
How can vulnerable road users protect themselves?
Pedestrians can protect themselves by respecting traffic signals, making eye contact with drivers when crossing in front of vehicles, and wearing light-coloured clothing with reflective material at night. Bicyclists can protect themselves by using a helmet, wearing light-coloured clothing with reflective material, and having front and rear lights when riding at night. Motorcyclists must by law wear approved helmets and should wear protective clothing (e.g., leather coats, pants, boots, gloves).
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