Viewpoint : May 2019

Pedestrian light for cyclists… an advantage and a responsibility


Since April 18, cyclists have been allowed to cross an intersection on the pedestrian light, unless otherwise indicated. This is one of the new provisions integrated into the Highway Safety Code (HSC) last year and taking effect this spring. Of course, this measure comes with a number of conditions, such as coming to a full stop (before the stop line or equivalent) and giving priority to pedestrians. It is in this spirit that Vélo Québec and several other organizations promoted this measure. The idea is to legitimize a widespread practice, without jeopardizing the safety and comfort of pedestrians.
 
When putting forward this idea, we maintained that cyclists would be safer if they could clear an intersection before cars and heavy vehicles, since, like pedestrians, they would be clearly seen by drivers.
 
In 2017, prior to the amendment of the HSC, the Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec  (SAAQ) sounded out the public on the idea of authorizing cyclists to use the pedestrian light, in order to determine if it was socially acceptable. It should be noted that this practice was already possible in certain areas with special traffic signs, thereby demonstrating the possibility of harmonious relations between pedestrians and cyclists at intersections.
 
It is undoubtedly an advantage for cyclists to be able to use the pedestrian light. However, this advantage comes with a responsibility – that of looking out for pedestrians of all ages and sizes. This is a wonderful opportunity for us to apply the principle of prudence toward more vulnerable road users!
 
Happy biking!
 
Suzanne Lareau
President and CEO