Viewpoint : July 2017

Reform of Highway Safety Code: Time is running out!

When Transport Minister Laurent Lessard initiated a major consultation on road safety at the beginning of the year, he knew he was getting into a process fraught with pitfalls, due to the unfinished work of his predecessors, Ministers Poëti and Daoust. Just before his departure in June 2016, Minister Daoust at least managed to implement two of the most critical measures: the enforcement of a minimum distance between cars and bikes (1 m and 1.5 m) and an increase in dooring fines for motorists.
Last winter’s major consultation, stemming from the Transport Minister’s desire to go beyond the Code reform and broaden the discussion, generated outstanding participation: sessions held in 11 cities, notices transmitted by 150 organizations and 250 citizens, and 7,700 questionnaires completed on line. Obviously, this type of consultation can trigger all kinds of reactions, like that of the Association du camionnage, whose comments focused mainly on individual responsibility (notably that of cyclists), rather than the importance of creating systemic conditions to ensure everyone’s safety, as advocated by Vision zéro. Overall, however, this consultation mobilized people and demonstrated the extent to which road safety should be considered a social issue and given top priority by the Transport Minister, as well as the government as a whole. Also, cyclist safety ranks third - after distractions at the wheel and drinking and driving - on a list of twenty main concerns expressed by citizens.
The parliamentary session has just ended, we are a year away from the next elections and there are rumours of a cabinet shuffle in Québec City - conditions that once again put the reform of the Highway Safety Code in a precarious situation. We will pursue this matter in the fall, but if you happen to run into your MNA this summer - perhaps while biking on the Route verte, emphasize the fact that road safety and the safety of cyclists and pedestrians should be among the government’s top priorities, regardless of the electoral cycle!

Suzanne Lareau
President and CEO