VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – How much space do you leave between you and cyclists when you’re behind the wheel?
Police in Ottawa are using what is basically a sonar-equipped bike to let drivers know if they’ve come too close, breaking a recently passed law requiring one metre of room between their vehicles and any cyclists they pass.
For now, officers have been using it as an educational tool, letting drivers off with a warning. But in Metro Vancouver, Erin O’Melinn with the advocacy group HUB Cycling says it is high time BC also brought in a “one metre” law.
“It’s very important. It’s been happening in jusrisdictions across North America, and it’s meant to improve the safety of vulnerable road-users like those who are on bikes,” she tells NEWS 1130.
“BC is a little behind in legislation,” she argues. “The Motor Vehcle Act that governs both drivers and people on bikes hasn’t been significantly changed in over 50 years and our transportation reality has changed a lot in that time. Cycling is now the fastest growing mode here so we really want the laws to catch up with reality.”
O’Melinn says there are too many close calls between cars and cyclists.
“I ride my bike every day and I’ve certainly experienced it myself. You can feel the wind going by because there are only inches between you and their side mirror. I don’t know if in some cases if it’s ignroance — drivers don’t understand that they are coming that close to you and you are balanced on only two wheels — or if they just don’t care,” she says.
“In either case, the education that comes with the type of campaign Ottawa is doing along with the enforcement would be really important here. I hear comments about this very frequently. It’s terrifying because you are in such a vulnerable postion.”
HUB is part of a road safety law reform group that has submitted recommended changes for the Motor Vehicle Act, including a minimum passing distance for cyclists.