BC Motor Vehicle Act Improvements
HUB Cycling is a member of the Road Safety Law Reform Group, whose membership also includes the BC Cycling Coalition, health researchers, and the Trial Lawyers Association of B.C.
The committee has made several recommendations to the Provincial government on how to make the law friendlier and fairer to people cycling.
The Superintendent of Motor Vehicles, and the Ministries of Justice and Transportation & Infrastructure are reviewing and researching the recommendations, and reaching out to other stakeholders.
"The name itself is biased," said David Hay, Bike Lawyer and Group Chair. "It's inherently favourable to people who aren't vulnerable road users." The committee recommends renaming it the "Road Safety Act" to be more inclusive and show the rules are about promoting safety for everyone.
The last update to the Act was in 1996 and the last major revision in 1957, but much has changed since then, including cycling growing significantly and becoming a much more viable mode of transportation, along with its benefits of affordability, health, space efficiency, and better air quality.
Any changes are up to the provincial government. Below are some of the ways HUB Cycling wants to see the Motor Vehicle Act improved, including our current top focus areas:
A snapshot of a few of our requested reforms:
1. Safe passing distances
In progressive cycling jurisdictions, such as the U.S. and throughout Europe, you must give cyclists a 1 - 1.5 metres of space. B.C.'s law, however, is silent on minimum passing distances. 23 states in the U.S. have already established similar minimum distances for vehicles when passing cyclists. Ontario just passed this law in June 2015 and enforces it with distance devices.
2. Safe speed limits - 30km/h limit on neighbourhood streets
Currently, municipalities must sign each block of specialized speed limits, which is costly. Granting the power to municipalities to enforce blanket speed limits and create a default 30km/h speed limit zones (on local streets with no centre lines, for example) will increase safety for everyone using neighbourhood streets.
3. Increased fines for dangerous behaviour
Ontario has recently increased fines for drivers opening doors onto cyclists to between $300 to $1,000, plus three demerit points. Hay says that is one way of recognizing that we need to move traffic through the city by accommodating the growing population of cyclists. Dooring has recently been shown as the most common collision type in the city of Vancouver, and consequences can be serious injury or death.
Fines should also be increased for harassment of people on bicycle, for theft or tampering with bicycles, aggressive driving, and motorist negligence causing injury or death of vulnerable road user.
4. Update the name of the Act to Road Safety Act.
The current name is exclusive and confusing, because people cycling are also under its jurisdiction. The improved Act would clearly promote safety and rules clarity for everyone.
5. Clarification on e-bikes and electric-assist bikes
Currently there is confusion about what types of e-bikes and scooters are allowed to use cycling infrastructure. Clarity to restrict speeds, weights and motor size of e-bikes will keep road users safer.
What can you do to support? Let your MLA know that the Motor Vehicle Act needs to be modernized to improve road safety for vulnerable road users like people cycling.