In the Cariboo we like to dabble in many forms of transportation, especially in the months outside of winter.
Walking and cycling are popular ways to get around as the weather warms up, while horseback riding and dirt biking on local roads and trails are also activities one can expect to see throughout the Cariboo Chilcotin.
These pursuits don’t always mix well with motorists though, or each other – especially when it comes to horses – and we need to be good friends and neighbours and be mindful of each other as we emerge from our winter nests to enjoy our beautiful area.
Did you know horses and their riders are recognized road users under the Motor Vehicle Act? Drivers, cyclists and pedestrians are expected to share the roadway and give appropriate space to horses.
Signs in rural areas alert drivers to use caution and be courteous when encountering and passing horses and riders. Drivers are advised to watch for these signs, especially at the start of any roadway or along narrow or winding rural roads. Even when signs are not present, people are reminded to share the road with all travellers to keep everyone safe.
The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure is reminding motorists to always expect a wide range of road users, and to keep everyone safe, drive accordingly, even when there are no signs.
Here are some tips for drivers encountering horses:
* Slow down long before getting close to horses.
* 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. 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. Once past the horse and rider, accelerate gradually.
Horse riders should use caution when travelling on narrow roads or in times of low visibility, such as dusk or dawn. Riders are advised to wear reflective vests, and when possible, outfit horses with high-visibility leg bands.
Dirt bikes can be a horseback rider’s worst nightmare when out for a ride, simply due to the nature of a horse’s flight instinct. Be mindful of the harm that could come from spooking a horse, and make sure your children know too, so we can all get out and enjoy our great outdoors safety.