Motorists Must Stay 3,4 or 5 Feet Away from Bicyclists

Update: see previous posts – Motorists Must Stay 3,4 or 5 Feet Away from Bicyclists, Toronto’s Zero-Tolerance Bicycle Blitz, Idaho Stop Law, Toronto Police Bicycle Safety Blitz, Bicycle Accidents Toronto, Reported in 2008, City of Toronto Considering Installing “Rumble Strips” & page –Green Alternatives – Motorcycles, Mopeds and e-Bikes

According to a 2009 study, 54% of Torontonians considered themselves at least casual cyclists in 2009, a 6% jump from 10 years ago. Only 3% of respondents said they were unclear about bicycling laws.

On Tuesday, May 18, 2010 High Park-Parkdale NDP MPP Transit critic Cheri DiNovo tabled a private member’s Bill that requires motorists to maintain certain minimum distances from bicycles when passing them on roads. The Bill, Bill 74, was carried after the first reading in the Ontario Legislative Assembly. Ms. DiNova is known as a hard working, conscientious and progressive Provincial politician.

These are the Highlights of the Private Member’s Bill, known as:

Bill 74, Highway Traffic Amendment Act (Safe Bicycle Passing), 2010

  • The Bill would amend Ontario’s Highway Traffic Act(new section 147.1) to mandate that drivers must ensure, where possible, at least three feet (0.9 metres) of clearance when passing cyclists at speeds of less than 50 km/h.
  • If drivers are driving at speeds between 50 km/h and 80 km/h, they would have to ensure four feet (1.2 metres) of clearance.
  • For speeds above 80 km/h, drivers would have to maintain five feet (1.5 metres) of space.
  • Drivers who don’t adhere to the rules would be fined. Most fines associated with a contravention of this new law, would range from $310.00 to $750.00, more serious fines would be levied against a motorist who injured or killed a cyclist and those fines would range from $1,500.00 (causing serious bodily harm to a cyclist) to $5,000.00 (where a cyclist is killed).
  • Constable Hugh Smith of the Toronto Police Services Traffic Division, gave a little clarity to the rules of the road. “With a cyclist they only occupy part of the lane… because they do occupy part of the lane they do have the right to the whole lane.”

    “This is the confusion that we’re finding, that it’s not clear to other road users to treat a cycle as a slow moving vehicle.”

    “Certainly, this is a bill that will affect the safety of everyone in Toronto, whether they are cyclists or not,” said Ms. DiNovo, the NDP transit critic. “First and foremost, cyclists, because it will make our streets safer for them.

    “Second of all, if we make our streets safer for cyclists, [then we] make our streets and our city safer and all cities across Ontario safer for everyone.”

    Ms. DiNovo said France, Germany, Spain and 16 out of the 50 States of the U.S.A have enacted similar laws and Ontario should be next.

    Ms. Yvonne Bambrick, the head of the cycling advocacy group Toronto Cyclists Union lauded Ms. DiNovo’s proposed bill.

    “Cyclists need room to manoeuvre,” she said. “We all know, especially in Toronto and on our highways, the roadway’s not always perfect. You need a little bit of room.

    “And also, when you’ve got people passing at speed, the wind that comes off of drivers can make cyclists fall over.”

    Ontario’s Premier, Premier Dalton McGuinty, has ruled out any new legislation.

    Around 7,500 cyclists suffer serious injuries every year in Canada. It’s estimated that as many as 70,000 others are treated in hospital emergency rooms for cycling-related injuries.

    In 2007, the latest year for which statistics are available, 65 cyclists died on Canadian roads. That’s 2.3 per cent of the total number of road fatalities, according to Transport Canada.

    Here is the Bill 74 – as seen on Ontario’s Legislature’s website:

    Bill 74  2010

    Bill 74, Highway Traffic Amendment Act (Safe Bicycle Passing), 2010

    Note: This Act amends the Highway Traffic Act. For the legislative history of the Act, see the Table of Consolidated Public Statutes – Detailed Legislative History at www.e-Laws.gov.on.ca.

    Preamble

    The purpose of this Act is to educate the public and in particular motorists about the safe passing of cyclists and to provide the police with both an educational and enforcement tool that will reduce injuries and fatalities.

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

    1. Subsection 147 (1) of the Highway Traffic Act is amended by striking out “Any vehicle travelling upon a roadway” at the beginning and substituting “Any vehicle, except a bicycle, travelling upon a roadway”.

    2. The Act is amended by adding the following sections:

    Bicycles to travel on right side

    147.1 (1) Subject to subsection (2), a cyclist travelling upon a roadway shall, where practicable, proceed in the right-hand lane then available for traffic or as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway.

    Exception

    (2) Subsection (1) does not apply if any of the following circumstances exist:

    1. The cyclist is overtaking and passing another cyclist or vehicle proceeding in the same direction.

    2. The cyclist is preparing for a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway.

    3. The cyclist, by exercising reasonable caution, is avoiding fixed or moving objects, including vehicles, bicycles, pedestrians, animals or surface hazards.

    4. The cyclist is proceeding in a lane that is too narrow for a bicycle and another vehicle to travel safely side by side.

    5. The cyclist is proceeding side by side with another bicycle.

    Bicycles overtaken by vehicles

    Interpretation

    147.2 (1) For the purposes of this section, a vehicle does not include a bicycle.

    Vehicles to leave safe travelling distance

    (2) Every driver or operator of a vehicle meeting or overtaking a person on a bicycle shall exercise due care by leaving the safe travelling distance described in subsection (3) between the vehicle and the bicycle.

    Same

    (3) For the purposes of subsection (2), when a vehicle is meeting or overtaking a bicycle, the safe travelling distance is,

    (a) three feet between the vehicle and the bicycle, if the vehicle is travelling at a speed equal to or less than 50 kilometres per hour;

    (b) four feet between the vehicle and the bicycle, if the vehicle is travelling at a speed greater than 50 kilometres per hour, but less than 80 kilometres per hour; and

    (c) five feet between the vehicle and the bicycle, if the vehicle is travelling at a speed equal to or greater than 80 kilometres per hour.

    Presumption

    (4) In case of a collision between a bicycle and a vehicle, the driver or operator of the vehicle is presumed not to have left the safe travelling distance required under subsection (2).

    Offence

    (5) Every person who contravenes subsection (2) is guilty of an offence and on conviction is liable to a fine of not less than $310 and not more than $750.

    Additional penalties

    (6) In addition to the fine described in subsection (5), if a court is satisfied on the evidence that a contravention of subsection (2) resulted in,

    (a) serious bodily harm to the cyclist, the driver or operator of the vehicle is liable to a fine of $1,500; or

    (b) the death of the cyclist, the driver or operator of the vehicle is liable to a fine of $5,000.

    Remedial program

    (7) If a person is convicted of an offence under subsection (5), the court shall, in addition to a fine imposed under that subsection, order that the person complete, at his or her own cost, a prescribed remedial program concerning the rules in this section.

    Regulations

    (8) The Lieutenant Governor in Council may make regulations,

    (a) governing a remedial program required under this section and prescribing what constitutes its completion; and

    (b) prescribing fees for the remedial program.

    Bicycles overtaken by equestrians

    147.3 Every person on a bicycle who is overtaken by an equestrian travelling at a greater speed shall turn out to the right and allow the equestrian to pass and the equestrian overtaking shall turn out to the left so far as may be necessary to avoid a collision.

    3. (1) Subsection 148 (4) of the Act is repealed.

    (2) Subsection 148 (6) of the Act is repealed and the following substituted:

    Motor assisted bicycles overtaken

    (6) Every person on a motor assisted bicycle who is overtaken by a vehicle or equestrian travelling at a greater speed shall turn out to the right and allow the vehicle or equestrian to pass and the vehicle or equestrian overtaking shall turn out to the left so far as may be necessary to avoid a collision.

    Commencement

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

    Short title

    5. The short title of this Act is the Highway Traffic Amendment Act (Safe Passing Bicycles), 2010 .

    EXPLANATORY NOTE

    The Bill amends the Highway Traffic Act in connection with bicycle safety. New section 147.1 of the Act is added to provide that cyclists travelling at less that the normal speed of traffic must, subject to specified exceptions, proceed in the right-hand lane or as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway.

    New section 147.2 of the Act provides that every driver or operator of a vehicle meeting or overtaking a person on a bicycle must maintain a safe travelling distance. The safe travelling distances is three to five feet, depending on the vehicle’s speed. In the case of a collision, the driver or operator of a vehicle is presumed to have not left a safe travelling distance between the vehicle and the bicycle.

    It is an offence not to leave the required safe travelling distance when passing or overtaking a bicycle. A person convicted of the offence is liable to a fine of not less than $310 and not more than $750, and is required to attend a remedial program. A driver or operator of a vehicle is liable to an additional fine of,

    (a) $1,500 if the contravention results in serious bodily harm to a cyclist; or

    (b) $5,000 if the contravention results in the cyclist’s death.

    See CBC video (42:42 – 44:53) on this story.

    Update: June 10, 2010 What are the rules about Drinking and Biking?

    Update: November 10, 2010 Fiorito: Cyclists doing good for all of us

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