Viewpoint : February 2018

Bill to Amend Highway Safety Code: Priority given to pedestrians and cyclists must be clarified

On Tuesday, February 6, the work of the Parliamentary Committee in charge of reviewing Bill 165 to amend the Highway Safety Code got under way in Québec City. In the brief it submitted to the Committee, Vélo Québec presented an in-depth analysis of the Bill, underlining several good ideas, as well as proposing concrete, more ambitious improvements that go beyond simply catching up with the reality of our roads and streets.
Good ideas:
  • Principle of prudence
  • Creation of vélorues (dedicated bike streets) and shared streets
  • Elimination of demerit points for cyclists 

Improvements to be made:
  • Unequivocal principle of prudence – The Bill must state that it is motorists, first and foremost, who must be attentive, not only to other vehicles, but also to other people. 
  • Priority concept for vélorues and shared streets – The priority given to pedestrians and cyclists in these two types of environments must be further emphasized in the current legislation. Motorists who circulate in these areas are “guests”, as it were. 
  • Fines corresponding to level of danger – Bill 165 puts an end to a long decried injustice by eliminating the demerit points handed out for certain biking infractions. However, the fine increase is hefty! Vélo Québec continues to push for fines proportional to the danger posed to others and asks that they be reduced to between $30 and $50. 
  • Head start for bicycles – The new Highway Safety Code should make a point of giving bicycles a head start over cars and heavy vehicles. We therefore ask that cyclists be allowed to use the pedestrian light, except in situations where pedestrian/cyclist cohabitation is not feasible, such as simultaneous multidirectional pedestrian crossings, heavy pedestrian traffic, etc. This being said, cyclists must always give pedestrians priority and adapt to their pace. 

Vélo Québec’s analysis proposes several other adjustments and nuances to better ensure consistency between the desire to better protect the most vulnerable and the concrete ways of doing so. Click here to consult the brief submitted by Vélo Québec.
Between now and February 14, several other organizations will express their views on Bill 165 at the National Assembly. Individual comments are also accepted on the National Assembly’s website under the column entitled Commission des transports et de l’environnement (Committee on Transportation and the Environment). Make your voice heard!

Suzanne Lareau
President and CEO