Viewpoint : May 2018

Pros and cons of amended Highway Safety Code

On April 17, the Québec government adopted Bill 165 to amend the Highway Safety Code. Certain measures are now in force, while others will take effect on May 18. This new code is the result of four years of work, negotiations, research and discussions. Vélo Québec devoted much energy and attention to this initiative and we are very grateful to all the organizations and individuals who supported us throughout the process.
Of course, it is difficult to ignore the context in which the amendment of the Code took place. The fact that there were four different Transport Ministers during this period did not make it easy to promote concepts and ideas already gaining ground around the world that highlight the many benefits cycling offers to society.
That being said, gains were made throughout the process and in the final wording of the Bill. They include the establishment of a minimum passing distance (1 m and 1.5 m), the increase in dooring fines, the end of demerit points, the introduction of the vélorue concept (bike street) and the authorization to cross intersections using the pedestrian light. Regarding the principle of prudence, we would have preferred stronger wording and will therefore pursue this issue. The same goes for the simplification of measures regarding visibility and lighting which, admittedly, have been relaxed, but only to a limited extent due to an ignorance of the practical aspects of cycling. Lastly, we were completely stunned by the 433% increase in fines imposed on cyclists, a measure that we tried our utmost to have amended during the final stages of the project.
Over the coming months, it will be interesting to see how the Code is applied by the police, who reacted half-heartedly to this fine increase. It will also be interesting to see how the municipalities respond to the opportunity provided by Bill 165 to carry out pilot projects that could, in the medium term, promote the evolution of the Code based on the most innovative global practices.

Suzanne Lareau
President and CEO

Click here to see what cyclists need to learn from this new Code »