By BC Government Communications

With the weather heating up and more people enjoying the outdoors, drivers in rural areas are reminded to share the road with others: including horses and their riders.

Last year, the government made improvements to signage to alert drivers to use extra caution, allow extra room and be courteous when passing horses and riders in rural areas. Signs remind drivers and riders to “share the road,” as they do with cyclists and pedestrians, to prevent surprise and support safety for all.

Horseback riders on the road. / RMG File Photo 2014

During the COVID-19 pandemic, people travelling on foot, bikes and horseback are advised to use appropriate physical distancing when passing others. Drivers should allow extra room for horses and riders, cyclists and pedestrians to share the roadway.

Horses and their riders are recognized road users in the Motor Vehicle Act. However, drivers may not be expecting these travellers or be aware that loud noises (like horns) or passing vehicles can startle horses. These noises can trigger unpredictable behaviour, causing risk to riders, animals and drivers.

The signs, a collaboration between the ministry and the Horse Council of B.C., are available for any regions that want to improve awareness in areas where horseback riding is popular. Drivers are advised to watch for these signs at the start of any roadway or along narrow or winding roads commonly used for horseback riding.

The ministry reminds people to use caution and stay alert for diverse road users, even when signs are not present.

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; and
* 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.

Horse riders should use caution when travelling on narrow roads or in times of low visibility, such as dusk or dawn. Riders should wear reflective vests, as well as outfit horses with high-visibility leg bands when possible.