Viewpoint : January 2018

Bill 165 on Road Safety
A Good Start – But More Work is Needed!

On December 8, 2017, the new Transport Minister, André Fortin, tabled his bill on road safety. For Vélo Québec, this bill bodes well for the future, but still seems a bit lacking. Take, for example, the principle of caution, which recognizes the vulnerability of pedestrians and cyclists. The proposed amendment specifies that drivers of road vehicles have a duty to show extra care for more vulnerable users, such as pedestrians and cyclists. The problem is that this article then throws the ball back into the court of vulnerable users by specifying that they have a duty to adopt behaviour that enhances their own safety, mainly by ensuring they are seen by other users… which contradict the initial principle!
When making our presentation to the Parliamentary Committee on February 6, we will obviously revisit the importance of preserving the full meaning of the principle of caution. We will also reiterate our support for:
• the end of demerit points for certain biking infractions, an injustice that has been denounced by Vélo Québec for 20 years;
• the new provisions aimed at standardizing the creation of “vélorues” (dedicated bike streets) and shared streets in Québec municipalities, a measure that will accelerate their installation.
We will also re-examine certain proposals not yet been adopted, such as allowing cyclists to use the pedestrian light to cross intersections ahead of cars and heavy trucks, which would significantly boost cyclists’ safety. Regarding the major fine increase, we will advocate, as in the past, for penalties proportional to the danger posed to others.
The year of Vélo Québec’s 50th anniversary ended on a positive note: biking is on the rise in Québec. But there is still much work to be done to improve cycling conditions. Vélo Québec is keeping an eye on the situation, but we need your support to successfully protect the interests of cyclists. You are invited to submit your comments on Bill 165 by going to the National Assembly’s website and clicking on the tab in the left column entitled Commission des transports et de l’environnement (Committee on Transportation and the Environment).
On behalf of the entire Vélo Québec team, I wish you an excellent start to 2018!

Suzanne Lareau
President and CEO