One-metre rule between cars, cyclists gets heated reaction online

Update:

Drivers are being asked to leave one metre of room between their vehicles and cyclists they pass. The relatively new law came into effect in September 2015, and police will begin to enforce it after an educational campaign.
Drivers are being asked to leave one metre of room between their vehicles and cyclists they pass. The fine for not leaving 1 metre or 3.28084 feet of space between a vehicle and a cyclist is $110.00 plus two (2) demerit points. The relatively new law came into effect in September 2015, and police will begin to enforce it after an educational campaign. (CBC)

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‘Absolute idiocy and hypocritical enforcement with a raging double standard’

When you’re driving, do you make sure to keep at least one metre between your vehicle and the cyclists you pass?

If not, each offence in Ontario could cost you $110 and two demerit points — and Ottawa police say they’ll start enforcing the law soon.

But before that happens, police are conducting an educational, awareness-building campaign about the relatively new rule, which came into effect in Ontario in September 2015. To do that, they’re using two fancy new gadgets that beep when drivers get within one metre of them.

Officers used the devices earlier this week to pull over drivers on Somerset Street West as a demonstration only, and the reaction to a video CBC News Ottawa posted about it on social media has been interesting, to say the least.

As of Friday morning it had been viewed nearly 800,000 times and commented on almost 800 times, with the vast majority of people strongly against the rule and its pending enforcement.

Ottawa police cruiser. Ottawa police will start enforcing the one-metre space law that must be maintained as vehicles are passing cyclists. photo by fightyourtickets.ca
Ottawa police cruiser. Ottawa police will start enforcing the one-metre space law that must be maintained as vehicles are passing cyclists. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

Crossing centre line

Many commented that vehicles would have no choice but to cross the centre dividing line to give cyclists a wide enough berth.

Police say that’s exactly what drivers should do when it’s warranted and safe, just as they do on rural roads to pass slower vehicles.

Const. Chuck Benoit Ottawa police cycling one metre rule June 2016
Ottawa police spokesman Const. Chuck Benoit says the law isn’t being enforced with fines and demerit points yet. (CBC)

Ottawa police spokesman Const. Chuck Benoit says the law isn’t being enforced with fines and demerit points yet. (CBC)

“[Drivers are] able to cross that yellow line … when it’s safe to do so,” Ottawa police spokesman Const. Chuck Benoit said in an interview this week.

But what about when there’s oncoming traffic in the opposing lane?

“The motorist has to stay behind the cyclist until it’s safe to [pass],” Benoit said.

Cue the anger.

Ottawa police cruiser. When police begin to enforce the one-metre rule, motorists convicted face a fine of $110 and will gain two (2) demerit points on their driving record. photo by fightyourtickets.ca
Ottawa police cruiser. When police begin to enforce the one-metre rule, motorists convicted face a fine of $110 and will gain two (2) demerit points on their driving record. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

‘This is sick’

“Absolute idiocy and hypocritical enforcement with a raging double standard,” wrote Nick O’Brien on Facebook. “Guess they needed some revenue and what’s a better way than extorting citizens already taxed to drive a car and on the road and on gas only to deal with idiotic cyclists who never abide by any traffic laws ever.”

“I for one will not get myself caught in a face to face with another motorists just because the cyclists didn’t want to ride his bicycle over a manhole on the side of the street and decides to jolt himself in my lane, sorry but it will not happen, tax payers’ money went into making paths for those people and that’s where they belong PERIOD!,” wrote Francois Brousseau.

“This is sick. We pay a lot of money for our right to have our cars on the road and now we have to get out of the way for cyclist. Sorry…but have cyclists pay for their rights to use the road like the others and maybe I will share. Don’t tell me that they are saving the environment …They are killing the economy. People don’t spend and that is not good for our economy. Sorry but this is the way I feel,” wrote Jocelyne Lacelle.

“Good idea, but let’s see the cyclist follow the same rules of the road,” wrote Lily Rose.

“What if the cyclist swerves towards the car? What then?” wrote Marc De Silva.

What is the penalty to drivers for not leaving a minimum of one-metre distance when passing a cyclist? The penalty for not leaving a minimum one-metre passing distance is a set fine of $85.00 plus a $5 court fee plus a $20 victim surcharge fine for a total payable of $110.00. Drivers who contest their ticket by going to court may face a fine of up to $500 if found guilty (fine range is $60 to $500). Upon conviction, two demerit points will also be assigned against the individual’s driver record. photo by fightyourtickets.ca
Making Ontario’s Roads Safer Act, Bill 31 went into effect on Sept.1/15. As a result, what is the penalty to drivers for not leaving a minimum of one-metre distance when passing a cyclist?
The penalty for not leaving a minimum one-metre passing distance is a set fine of $85.00 plus a $5 court fee plus a $20 victim surcharge fine for a total payable of $110.00.
Drivers who contest their ticket by going to court may face a fine of up to $500 if found guilty (fine range is $60 to $500). Upon conviction, two demerit points will also be assigned against the individual’s driver record. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

‘It’s a healthy discussion’

Gareth Davies, president of the Ottawa group Citizens for Safe Cycling, says he’s glad to see any discussion about the issue.

“It’s a start to hopefully a bigger investment in education for all road users around how to share our roads effectively and safely. … I think it’s a healthy discussion. It’s important for people to feel like they understand what the rules are, especially a new rule like this, and it’s nice to see police showing that it’s enforceable without actually enforcing it the first time,” Davies said.

And he understands people wondering about the practicality of the rule, especially downtown.

“It kind of highlights the lack of space we have on some roads, really, and drivers need to know [that] the law allows them, they can cross the yellow line to provide that one-metre cushion for cyclists, and that they need to wait until there’s room in the oncoming lane to do that.”

Gareth Davies president Citizens for Safe Cycling Ottawa June 2016

Gareth Davies, president of Citizens for Safe Cycling, says the discussion being had about the relatively new rule is a good thing. (CBC)

Judge refuses to recuse himself over complaint about his ‘scowling visage’

Update:

The Court of Appeal for Ontario. photo by fightyourtickets.ca
The Court of Appeal for Ontario. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

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https://pbs.twimg.com/media/CQLolk2UcAATZR6.jpg
Justice David Doherty of Court of Appeal for Ontario. photo by Phil Brown Twitter.

Complainants can’t ditch judges over “specious partiality claims,” says the ruling.

The stern look from up high on the bench was apparently a bit too much for one man.

Kersasp Shekhdar recently tried to have Ontario Court of Appeal Justice David Doherty — considered the top criminal law jurist on the court —recuse himself for, among other issues, his tone of voice and “scowling visage” while presiding over a previous case involving Shekhdar.

Doherty refused to step back from the matter, while writing rather detailed reasons about the importance of an impartial justice system and why judges should take any claim of bias — real or perceived — seriously.

Court of Appeal for Ontario Office. photo by fightyourtickets.ca
Court of Appeal for Ontario Office. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

“In my view, a judge is best advised to remove himself if there is any air of reality to a bias claim,” Doherty wrote in his decision released this week.

“That said, judges do the administration of justice a disservice by simply yielding to entirely unreasonable and unsubstantiated recusal demands. Litigants are not entitled to pick their judge.

“They are not entitled to effectively eliminate judges randomly assigned to their case by raising specious partiality claims against those judges. To step aside in the face of a specious bias claim is to give credence to a most objectionable tactic.”

Shekhdar, who represented himself, lives in Pakistan, according to the decision. He told the Star by email that he intends to ask a panel of three appeal court judges to review Doherty’s decision.

Doherty also denied Shekhdar’s motion for extra time to seek leave to appeal a decision from a lower court. A request for comment from Doherty sent to the court was not returned.

“Different judges conduct themselves differently in court; some of them are very reluctant to intervene, some ask a lot of questions, some have a very kind and soft manner and some are a little more aggressive,” said Howard Krongold, a lawyer who specializes in criminal appeals and who was not involved in the case.

“I think anybody who has ever appeared in front of Justice Doherty would know that he’s exceedingly fair-minded, and perhaps this litigant got the wrong impression because of what he perceived in the tone of his voice.”

The Court House at 361 University Ave. photo by fightyourtickets.ca
The Court House at 361 University Ave. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

Doherty sat on two previous appeal court panels that heard matters involving Shekhdar.

The man argued that in both instances, the panels’ reasons for dismissing his cases “are so lacking in substance and so clearly wrong in law as to be explainable only by ‘racism, corruption and/or criminal case fixing,’” Doherty wrote, quoting part of Shekhdar’s written submissions.

Shekhdar further alleged that Doherty’s tone of voice and “scowling visage” while delivering the reasons in the previous case demonstrated his contempt for Shekhdar.

“He writes that he ‘suspects’ that my ‘contempt’ reflects my racism and disdain for anyone who is not a ‘white Canadian.’ Finally, the moving party (Shekhdar) asserts that I did not pay attention during the proceedings and fell asleep,” Doherty wrote.

He noted that Shekhdar has made allegations of misconduct against many judicial players in the past, including a number of other judges. Doherty found there was “no air of reality” to his accusations of bias.

“Judges are able in almost all instances to carry out their jobs impartially, and there are rare instances where a judge may create the appearance of bias, and in those cases it’s necessary for the judge to step away from the case,” said criminal defence lawyer Daniel Brown, who was not involved in the case.

“Simply showing a facial expression is not a basis to prove bias in any way, especially when there is no jury who could potentially be influenced by those facial expressions,” he said. “In fact, in many cases, the facial expressions are helpful to guide a lawyer on the weaknesses in their own arguments, and what they need to do to persuade the judge of their position.”

Supreme Court Rules Penile Swab Obtained in Illegal Search Did Not Violate Charter

Update:

Inside the Supreme Court of Canada's courtroom. photo by fightyourtickets.ca
Inside the Supreme Court of Canada’s courtroom. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

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Swab requested by police didn’t violate accused man’s rights under Section 8 of charter, court rules

An Edmonton man who was forced to conduct a penile swab on himself didn’t have his charter rights violated, the Supreme Court of Canada has ruled.

In 2011, Ali Hassan Saeed was arrested and charged with sexual assault and sexual interference after a complaint from a 15-year-old girl.

It was alleged that Saeed “viciously attacked and sexually assaulted” the teen, punching her several times in the face and brandishing a knife.

While he was in custody, police handcuffed Saeed to a wall in a cell with no toilet or running water for upwards of 40 minutes. They then had the accused conduct a penile swab on himself as two officers blocked the windows to his cell. The police didn’t have judicial authorization to conduct the search.

After the swab was tested, it revealed the complainant’s DNA was found on Saeed’s penis.

‘In light of these requirements, the penile swab in this case did not violate the accused’s rights under section eight  of the Charter.’ – Majority ruling

The trial judge ruled this was an illegal search, but said the results were admissible because the police didn’t act in bad faith and society has a high interest in seeing justice in cases of sexual assault.

Supreme Court of Canada. photo by fightyourtickets.ca
Supreme Court of Canada. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

Saeed was convicted, and the Alberta Court of Appeal upheld the ruling, citing several precedents.

The majority ruling was that the Section 8 charter rights of the accused were not breached and the evidence could be admitted.

Section 8 states that, “everyone has the right to be secure against unreasonable search or seizure.”

In its decision released Thursday, the court said that because the police had “reasonable grounds” to believe that there was evidence on the accused’s penis, the police officers were “sensitive to the need to preserve the accused’s privacy and dignity.”

The decision also notes that the accused was informed in advance of the procedure, and that there was no physical contact between the officers and the accused.

“In light of these requirements, the penile swab in this case did not violate the accused’s rights,” they wrote in their majority decision.

 Justice Abella
Supreme Court of Canada Justice Rosalie Abella was the only justice to state that the evidence shouldn’t be admissible. (Philippe Landreville, Supreme Court of Canada Collection)

Two dissents

Justice Andromache Karakatsanis dissented, but said that even though she believed that Section 8 was violated the evidence was still admissible, writing “there was no actual bad faith on the part of the police.”

She added: “Where the police act on a mistaken understanding of the law where the law is unsettled, their Charter‑infringing conduct is less serious.”

Justice Rosalie Abella was the only one of the justices to state that the evidence wasn’t admissible because of the lack of judicial authorization. Abella wrote “the police officers’ unjustified and unexplained avoidance of this requirement weighs against admissibility.”

According to Abella: “The deliberate failure to consider a warrant in the absence of exigent circumstances is, at its best, careless; ignoring the legal possibility that under Canadian law the police were not even entitled to take a penile swab, is fatal.”

The front door leading into the Supreme Court of Canada. This Court considers an average of between 500 and 600 applications for leave to appeal each year. The Supreme Court holds three sessions a year and hears on average between 65 and 80 appeals a year. Each session lasts three months. The first session begins in January, the second begins in April and the third begins in October. In recent years, it has been the Court's practice to start each session on a Monday. The Standard for Granting Leave The standard – even though it's circular – is set out in s. 40 (1) of the Supreme Court Act: "by reason of its public importance or the importance of any law or any issue of mixed law and fact involved in that question, one that ought to be decided by the Supreme Court or is, for any other reason, of such a nature or significance as to warrant decision by it " (emphasis added). photo by fightyourtickets.ca
The front door leading into the Supreme Court of Canada. This Court considers an average of between 500 and 600 applications for leave to appeal each year. The Supreme Court holds three sessions a year and hears on average between 65 and 80 appeals a year. Each session lasts three months. The first session begins in January, the second begins in April and the third begins in October. In recent years, it has been the Court’s practice to start each session on a Monday. The Standard for Granting Leave
The standard – even though it’s circular – is set out in s. 40 (1) of the Supreme Court Act:
“by reason of its public importance or the importance of any law or any issue of mixed law and fact involved in that question, one that ought to be decided by the Supreme Court or is, for any other reason, of such a nature or significance as to warrant decision by it ” (emphasis added). photo by fightyourtickets.ca

 

Ontario: HOV lanes will be introduced on the QEW in Sept.

Update:

HOV lane.
HOV lane. HOV lanes on the eastbound Queen Elizabeth Way. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

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1000 HOV lane Permits will be availabe to single drivers between Trafalgar Road and Guelph Line – for a fee of $180.00

Ontario is launching Canada’s first High-Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes as part of a pilot project on the QEW–between Trafalgar Road in Oakville and Guelph Line in Burlington–to help manage congestion and add another option for travellers.

This new pilot project will start on September 15, 2016.  Existing High-Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes on the QEW will be designated as HOT lanes. Carpools of two or more occupants will still be able to use the QEW HOT lanes for free, while single occupant drivers will now have the option to purchase a HOT permit to use them.

HOT permit applications from members of the public will be accepted online from August 1 to August 21 through ServiceOntario. A limited number of applicants will be selected to purchase permits through a draw.  The permit will cost  $180 for a three-month term.

As part of the pilot, Ontario is issuing a Request for Information seeking innovative technologies that can be used to support tolling, compliance and performance monitoring of HOT lanes for the purposes of testing during the pilot. Possible technologies include telematics, radio frequency identification, video-analytics, GPS, and infrared cameras. The pilot will be used to inform long-term planning for future HOT lane implementation and will also support Ontario’s innovation sector by providing an opportunity to test emerging traffic management and tolling technologies.

Ontario is making the largest investment in public infrastructure in the province’s history — about $160 billion over 12 years, which is supporting 110,000 jobs every year across the province, with projects such as roads, bridges, transit systems, schools and hospitals. In 2015, the province announced support for more than 325 projects that will keep people and goods moving, connect communities and improve quality of life.

Creating new travel options and supporting innovation is part of the government’s economic plan to build Ontario up and deliver on its number-one priority to grow the economy and create jobs. The four-part plan includes investing in talent and skills, including helping more people get and create the jobs of the future by expanding access to high-quality college and university education. The plan is making the largest investment in public infrastructure in Ontario’s history and investing in a low-carbon economy driven by innovative, high-growth, export-oriented businesses. The plan is also helping working Ontarians achieve a more secure retirement.

Gardiner Expressway. photo by fightyourtickets.ca
Gardiner Expressway. Congestion in the norm on the highways in and around the GTA. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

Quick Facts

  • Approximately 1,000 HOT permits will be made available each term of three months.
  • For the first term only, permits will be valid from September 15 to December 31, 2016, giving permit holders an additional two weeks of HOT lane use as an early incentive bonus.
  • A 15.5 km stretch of dedicated HOT lanes with electronic tolling in both directions on Highway 427 will open in 2021, from south of Highway 409 to north of Rutherford Road.
  • HOT lanes will complement other initiatives, such as the GO Regional Express Rail that will increase GO Train trips by 50 per cent over the next five years with more stops serving more communities.

Background Information

Additional Resources

Drivers sick of sitting in traffic on the QEW will have access to the highway's HOV lanes, for a fee, starting in September.
Drivers sick of sitting in traffic on the QEW will have access to the highway’s HOV lanes, for a fee, starting in September. (Ontario Ministry of Transportation)

 

Queen’s Park Looking At Increasing Penalties for Motorists Hitting Cyclists

Update:

"Cyclists

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A Liberal MPP whose husband, a police officer, was killed by a truck while he was cycling 10 years ago this week is pushing for tougher penalties against drivers who hit cyclists.

A Liberal MPP whose police officer husband was killed by a truck while cycling 10 years ago this week is pushing for tougher penalties against drivers who hit cyclists.

Eleanor McMahon (Burlington) moved an amendment to the Highway Traffic Act on Thursday that would increase jail time and fines for careless driving causing death or bodily harm.

“My life and the lives of so many people dear to me changed forever when a careless driver struck and killed my husband, OPP Sergeant Greg Stobbart,” said McMahon, who founded the Share the Road cycling coalition after his death in June 2006.

“Greg was killed while in a training ride in Milton on his bicycle. He was 44 years old. Greg’s death and his life’s work as an OPP officer have been the impetus for the direction I’ve taken in my life over the past decade,” she said.

Cyclists on road. photo by fightyourtickets.ca
Cyclists on road. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

Michael Dougan, the Grimsby trucker who hit Stobbart, was spared a jail sentence even though he already had five previous convictions for driving while suspended and four for driving without insurance.

Dougan was sentenced to a two-year probation term and lost his driver’s licence for a year. He had also previously served two jail sentences for criminal offences.

McMahon, first elected in June 2014 and touted to be elevated to Premier Kathleen Wynne’s cabinet in a shuffle expected next week, worked with MPPs from the opposition parties to build support for her proposal.

It passed second reading on a unanimous voice vote Thursday, just before the house broke for the summer recess, and will be examined by the standing committee on the legislative assembly this fall.

Cyclists in bike lane. photo by fightyourtickets.ca
Cyclists in bike lane. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca praised McMahon’s efforts.

“It’s important to stress that Eleanor McMahon has done extraordinary work on this bill. She’s worked with all the stakeholders. Obviously, she has a profound sense of why it’s important to continually move towards making sure our roads and highways remain safe at all times,” said Del Duca.

“The Ministry of Transportation is always open to the conversation about how we can improve the situation,” he said.

Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown said his party takes road safety seriously and is open to McMahon’s amendment.

“We do need to do more to combat reckless driving. Obviously, her story is a very personal one that speaks to why we should be looking in this area,” said Brown.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said “there’s no doubt that we need to do everything we can to try to protect the cyclists on the road from the devastation that occurs when there’s an accident that involves a motor vehicle.”

Horwath noted stiffer sentences could create “a heightened level of awareness” among drivers.

“They really do need to look out for cyclists as well as pedestrians, frankly,” she said.

Cyclist waiting for passengers to unload and load into a TTC streetcar. photo by fightyourtickets.ca
Cyclist waiting for passengers to unload and load into a TTC streetcar. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

To that end, McMahon’s bill would increase careless driving fines to up to $50,000, jail sentences to the provincial offence maximum of two years, and licence suspensions of up to five years.

Those convicted could also be ordered to complete a road-safety or driver-training course.

Her changes would extend the statute of limitations from six months to years in order to give police officers more time to investigate before charges are laid.

And it would make it easier for police to lay serious provincial charges.

“In order to charge a driver under the Criminal Code, there would need to be established intent to kill, or the motorist in question would have to be so outrageously dangerous that the driver would have known that killing someone was a likely possibility,” noted McMahon.

Toronto police Constable Hugh Smith, who works on traffic safety, said it is difficult to prove criminal intent when dealing with auto crashes.

“A lot of times with careless (driving), it was unintentional, so there was no intention for that person to have done it,” said Smith,

“So, by sheer fact of their environment or not paying attention — distraction — somebody got killed or seriously injured, but they are responsible for that.”

Bill 213, Highway Traffic Amendment Act (Careless Driving), 2016

Bill 213                                                                                                     2016

An Act to amend the Highway Traffic Act with respect to careless driving causing death or bodily harm

Her Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Ontario, enacts as follows:

   1.  (1)  Section 130 of the Highway Traffic Act is amended by adding “Subject to subsection (2)” at the beginning.

   (2)  Section 130 of the Act is amended by adding the following subsections:

Penalty for careless driving causing death or bodily harm

   (2)  If the commission of an offence under subsection (1) results in the death of or bodily harm to any person, the convicted person is liable instead to a fine of not less than $2,000 and not more than $50,000 or to imprisonment for a term of not more than two years, or to both, and in addition,

  (a)  his or her licence or permit may be suspended for a period of not more than five years; and

  (b)  he or she may be ordered to complete a road safety course or driver training course.

Limitation period is two years

   (3)  Despite section 76 of the Provincial Offences Act, a proceeding in respect of an offence described in subsection (2) may be commenced on or before the expiry of two years after the date on which the offence was, or is alleged to have been, committed.

   2.  Subsection 214.1 (7) of the Act is repealed and the following substituted:

Penalty for careless driving or racing in community safety zone

   (7)  Every person who commits an offence under section 130 or section 172 in a community safety zone when it is in effect is liable, on conviction, not to the fine set out in the provision, but to a fine of not less than double the minimum fine and not more than the maximum fine set out in the provision, in addition to any other liability set out in the provision.

Commencement

   3.  This Act comes into force on the day it receives Royal Assent.

Short title

   4.  The short title of this Act is the Highway Traffic Amendment Act (Careless Driving), 2016.