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Share the road: Cyclists need space from motorists

Bert Groenenberg has been cycling for over 30 years
Bert Groenenberg is an avid cyclist who enjoys riding his bike for freedom and fitness. Groenenberg appreciated the bicycle-themed sculpture in downtown Rossland on a road trip. (Photo submitted)

by Bert Groenenberg


This column is an imaginary conversation between Byron the Bicyclist and other road users.

Dear Byron the Bicyclist;

Thanks for letting us drivers know about some of the changes made in the Motor Vehicle Act. We motorists now need to have at a minimum one metre distance when passing a bicyclist or pedestrian.

What else should we know?

Signed; Maddy the Motorist

Dear Maddy the Motorist;

Glad you asked, Patty. The one metre passing distance plus the 3-metre (10 feet) following distance is the minimum by law. But a Vancouver area advocacy group, HUB Cycling, states this should be a minimum of 1.5 metres to make a difference. (Quebec and the Maritime provinces have a 1.5 metres (5 feet) requirement). HUB also advocated for a minimum of three seconds of travel, not just three metres. This would take the speed of the vehicle into account.

Maddy, if you followed as closely as three metres at 50 km/h, I would want to pull off the road. Please give me at least one vehicle length and more at higher speeds.

The amended law applies to what they call “vulnerable road users.” That includes bicyclists, pedestrians and “prescribed persons” which I don’t see defined. But I expect it will include anyone using alternate transportation who can legally be on the road. So that would probably include people riding horses, electric scooters or using wheelchairs.

The main intent of the changed law is to make it safer for vulnerable road users. For the past 100 years, our road engineers have given increasing priority to motor vehicles. Now it is time to make it safer for other road users as well.

Maddy, when I was an eight-year-old bicyclist on rural Ontario roads, drivers went around me, no problem. Can you make room for us in Williams Lake too?

Signed; Byron the Bicyclist

Bert Groenenberg has been walking or cycling in Williams Lake for over 30 years.