Drivers are being warned to be wary this spring and summer when it comes to one of the oldest means of transportation in B.C. – horseback riding.
The B.C. Ministry of Transportation is warning that drivers heading out in the countryside should watch for signs warning of passing horses, and even where signs aren’t present, riders may be out on the sides of the roads.
That’s particularly true in Langley and its neighbouring Fraser Valley communities, where there are large communities of horse owners.
Driving too fast, too close to horses, or blaring noise from a loud engine or stereo, can spook a horse, which could lead to a dangerous situation for everyone.
“It definitely depends on the horse,” said Sarah Allison, the recreation coordinator with the Aldergrove-based Horse Council of B.C. “Some are more calm. Others, that could really frighten them.”
A spooked horse can throw and injure a rider, or run into traffic.
The Ministry of Transportation has offered the following list of tips for people encountering horses on the roadside:
• 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; and
• if a horse appears agitated, wait for the rider to get it under control before passing. Once past the horse and rider, accelerate gradually.
More tips and information are online at www.tranbc.ca/2016/07/06/how-to-share-the-road-safely-with-horseback-riders/.
The Horse Council also encourages riders to prepare, Allison said, telling them to do their homework, and to ensure as much as possible that their mounts are desensitized to the kinds of noise they might encounter on the roads.
There are a number of places where horses and cars can come into close contact, particularly on the roads in South Langley around Campbell Valley Regional Park, which is widely known for its extensive horse trails.
It is also an area fed by 200th Street and 16th Avenue, two busy roads.
“It’s getting busier, and there’s some areas where the shoulder of the road isn’t super wide,” said Allison.
She noted that there are measures communities can take, including wider gravel shoulders, speed control measures, and even barriers between the shoulder and the road, as Maple Ridge has done on a portion of 132nd Avenue, she said.
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