first reading of a major amendment to the
Highway Traffic Act
33. Section 148 of the Act is amended by adding the following subsections:
(6.1) Every person in charge of a motor vehicle on a highway who is overtaking a person travelling on a bicycle shall, AS NEARLY AS MAY BE PRACTICABLE, leave a distance of not less than one metre between the bicycle and the motor vehicle and shall maintain that distance until safely past the bicycle.
(6.2) The one metre distance required by subsection (6.1) refers to the distance between the extreme right side of the motor vehicle and the extreme left side of the bicycle, including all projections and attachments.
Above is a very important amendment to the HTA that will positively effect all cyclists in Ontario. This section is making the '1 meter rule' the law in Ontario. The 1 meter rule for those who don't know is the idea that no motor vehicle should pass a cyclist with less than 1 meter of space between them. It is legal recognition that cyclists are 'vulnerable' road users and as such drivers must make the extra effort to pass safely. It makes 'threading the needle' or 'buzzing' illegal. This really is a great Bill for cycling but there is one small catch. The addition of the phrase "as nearly as may be practicable" in our opinion makes the 1 meter rule conditional. We can't tell you conclusively what effect that phrase has on the 1 meter rule but in our opinion it has the potential to seriously dilute the positive effect of the rule. We think the rule should be unconditional. If a driver can't find 1 meter of space between itself and a cyclist it is a very strong indication that its not safe to pass. We are of the opinion that the sanctity of life and the principles of safety should always take precedence over expedience particularly in the context of vulnerable users. We are concerned that with that condition we are leaving the judgement of when its safe to pass up to the drivers to decide and we all know that there are a certain percentage of drivers who have no respect for the safety of cyclists. Although things are getting better, we do not yet live in a cycling friendly society. We think an unconditional 1 meter rule sends out a clear message: safety first for vulnerable users.
If you agree please email the Minister of Transportation, the Honourable Glen Murray, at (firstname.lastname@example.org) and give him your opinion. We have a unique opportunity to effect some positive change for cycling at this moment. Let’s take this opportunity to be heard. Time is of the essence.