Breaking News: BC Law Now Better Protects Vulnerable Road Users

An illustration of a person driving passing a person cycling and leaving a safe passing distance of 1.5-meters.

May 11, 2023

HUB Cycling is very pleased to see Bill 23 has been approved in the BC Legislature. This Bill is the first step to improving safety for vulnerable road users and increasing accountability for all road users. HUB Cycling has worked for many years alongside other safety advocates to effect this positive change.

The legislation drafted in Bill 23 sets the foundation that will allow the BC Government to fulfill HUB Cycling’s recommendations. There are many positive changes proposed, including:

  • A duty (of care) imposed on drivers of motor vehicles in relation to vulnerable road users. 
  • Death or bodily harm caused to a vulnerable road user is to be considered an aggravating factor in imposing a sentence for an offense, including for careless driving. This allows for more substantial penalties for collisions involving vulnerable road users which can be a motivator for safer behaviour.
  • Vulnerable Road User, Cycle, Pedestrian, and Motor Assisted Cycle (e-bike) are now defined in the full Act, providing more clarity and accountability.
  • Motor Assisted Cycles (e-bikes) must have pedals or hand cranks that allow for human power, and the pedals must be able to be used when the motor is engaged. This differentiation between e-bikes and motorcycles ensures that each class of device can be addressed differently in the regulations, thereby improving safety for all vulnerable road users.

We will be working with the BC Government to strengthen the regulation and public education that follows the approved legislative foundations. We recommend BC laws:

  1. Require a 1.5-metre minimum passing distance in all situations. This is supported by recent research that showed that 1-meter minimum passing distance has zero to negligible safety improvements, whereas 1.5 meters created safer outcomes.
  2. Require a 3-second minimum following distance in all situations. This follows current ICBC guidance and accounts for the need for greater following distances at higher speeds. The approved 3-metre minimum following distance is only appropriate at a near or full stop. We want to avoid road user confusion that 3 meters is acceptable when moving and provide a consistent 3-second minimum following distance law and message.

Legislation allows the government to set a framework with a minimum baseline, and then related regulations and public education are developed over about a year before the new laws come into force. 

The approved legislative reforms are huge structural changes, step one in a multi-step process, and a step in the right direction. The BC Government has communicated its vision to continue to build on the reforms each year to meet their climate, transportation, health, and equity aims. This has the potential to include all recommendations in the BC Road Safety Law Reform Group’s position paper, of which HUB Cycling was a partner.