Viewpoint : June 2015

Highway Safety Code:
A long-awaited update!

Last year, Québec transportation minister Robert Poëti organized a discussion group on the safety of cyclists, which met six times between July and December. Comprising mainly cycling advocates and representatives of the CAA, police, municipalities, trucking companies and various ministries, this group was mandated to provide the minister with suggestions for modernizing the Highway Safety Code.
To consult the discussion report, click here.
Vélo Québec participated with great enthusiasm and interest in the group’s discussions, seeing this as an excellent opportunity for modernizing the Highway Safety Code in order to promote sustainable mobility.
Here are the main recommendations we made that were debated in this discussion group:
  • Integrating the precautionary approach, whereby all road users must exercise caution around more vulnerable users;
  • Allowing cyclists to circulate within a 1.5-meter-wide lane on the right side of the road (and not on the extreme right, as they are currently obliged to do);
  • Allowing cyclists to follow the pedestrian traffic light indicators (in order to give themselves a few seconds’ head start on car traffic – which is currently prohibited);
  • Clearly defining the passing distance that a car must maintain when overtaking a cyclist (minimum: 1 meter in the city and 1.5 meters on rural roads);
  • Allowing cyclists to slow down instead of making a complete stop at a stop sign (adapting regulations to current practice, considering that a bike is not a car);
  • Sidewalk sharing between pedestrians and cyclists in certain situations where the environment is hostile to cyclists (tunnel, viaduct bridge) and the right for children to bike on the sidewalk (which is currently prohibited);
  • Redefining the concept of an accident to include the phenomenon of dooring;
  • Removing demerit points from the driving record of delinquent cyclists (a driver’s license is not required for riding a bike; in addition, this measure creates two classes of cyclists, those with a driver’s license and those without);
  • Adjusting regulations regarding visibility devices, in order to eliminate the requirement for pedal reflectors and deem reflective tape and accessories just as effective as reflectors. 
The minister announced that he would be tabling a bill in the coming months and then holding a parliamentary commission. We are anxious to see how our suggestions will be incorporated into the new Code and if the reality of cyclists will finally be recognized.
Suzanne Lareau
President and CEO