Viewpoint : December 2016

Highway Safety Code
Make Your Voice Heard!

The SAAQ and Ministry of Transport recently announced that public consultations will be held in early 2017 on the subject of road safety.
Vélo Québec has been monitoring the issue of the Highway Safety Code since 1979, in order to ensure that this legislation reflects the reality of cyclists. Since the launch of the latest version in the spring of 2014, we have made our case about biking as a modern means of transportation. Our efforts, along with those of our partners, have paid off: the Code now stipulates that motorists must maintain a safe distance when overtaking cyclist and imposes increased fines for dooring to reflect the danger this practice poses to cyclists.
However, there is still much to be done to ensure that the Code meets cyclists’ needs, starting with the precautionary principle, which would ensure that the largest, fastest users have increased responsibility towards the most vulnerable users.
Many other provisions should be revised, such as the article obliging cyclists to ride on the far right of the road, where they are exposed to dirt, potholes and dooring, as well as the article requiring that bicycles be equipped with 6 reflectors, some of which are incompatible with new equipment (e.g.: clip pedals). Also, demerit points are assigned for certain cycling infractions, creating inequity between cyclists who have a driver’s license and those who do not.
For Vélo Québec, the revision of the Highway Safety Code should also recognize that certain rules imposed on motorists must be adapted to cyclists, without jeopardizing their safety. Treating stop signs as yield signs, for example, would legitimize a widespread practice, while reinforcing pedestrians’ right of way at intersections. Lastly, allowing cyclists to use pedestrian lights at intersections would help prevent many accidents related to vehicle blind spots.
Vélo Québec hopes that cyclists will come together to make their needs known in each of the eleven cities where the public consultations will be held. We also invite you to share your comments and experiences on the SAAQ online platform to be launched on January 9. Vélo Québec’s requests to modernize the Highway Safety Code will carry much more weight if they are supported by citizens. Your opinion could have a direct impact on the choices that are made.
Thank you in advance for helping to promote the cycling cause!

Suzanne Lareau
President and CEO