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 making the law friendlier for people cycling and fairer for all.
The aims of reform include:
● clarifying the rights and duties of road users to improve understanding and compliance and reduce conflict between all road user groups
● acknowledging the fundamental differences between road user groups’ capabilities and vulnerabilities and recognizing the increased risks faced by more vulnerable classes of road users
● aligning the law with best practices for safer road use by vulnerable road users
● reducing the likelihood of a collision involving a vulnerable road user
● prioritizing enforcement of laws that target activities most likely to result in collisions, injuries and fatalities
● reducing the likely severity of injuries resulting from collisions involving vulnerable road users.
All of the following organizations have endorsed this position paper:
- Trial Lawyers Association of British Columbia
- Health Officers Council of BC
- Northern Health
- Fraser Health Authority
- Interior Health Authority (Letter of support, PDF)
- Vancouver Coastal Health
- BC Injury Research and Prevention Unit
- City of New Westminster
- City of Victoria
- City of Vancouver Active Transportation Policy Council
- Modo the Car Co-op
- Hastings Crossing Business Improvement Association
- Vancouver Bike Share Inc. | MOBI
- BC Cycling Coalition
- HUB Cycling
- Capital Bike
- Modacity Life
- Surrey Board of Trade
"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. A snapshot of a few of our requested reforms:
1. Safe passing distances
In progressive cycling jurisdictions, you must give people cycling a 1 - 1.5 metres of space. B.C.'s law, however, is silent on minimum passing distances despite it happening 1 out of every 17 times a person cycling is passed. 39 states and provinces in North America have already established similar minimum distances for vehicles when passing people cycling. Ontario passed this law in June 2015 and enforces it with sonar distance devices.
The BC Cycling Coalition developed an outline including case studies and legislative language from other jurisdictions, which can be found here.
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
We have seen some success here as a result of our advocacy: As of Monday, Sept. 21, 2020, BC increased fines for drivers opening doors onto people cycling to between $368 (up from $81). Dooring is a common safety issue for people cycling in all communities throughout the province, is 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 (Motor Vehicle Act) is exclusive and confusing, because people cycling are also under its jurisdiction. The improved Act would clearly promote safety, accountability and 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.
How you can help?
If possible, consider donating to HUB Cycling and support our advocacy work to reform the outdated Motor Vehicle Act.
Your support enables us to make an impact on people of all ages and abilities, and promote access to cycling across regional and diverse communities.
What is the Impact of Your Generous Gift?
- $2,500 will help us develop programs for communities that may face social, cultural, and/or financial barriers to cycling.
- $1,500 helps us maintain and expand our letter-writing tool to enable British Columbians to communicate directly with decision-makers about the importance of investing in improved cycling in BC.
- $500 helps us hire community event partners like the Binner's Project, a like-minded not-for-profit working towards enabling marginalized residents in Downtown Eastside to improve their economic opportunities and ensure recyclables stay out of the landfill.
- $250 helps us provide infrastructure research support needed for an advocacy project like the ‘Main2Marine’ route connecting Dundarave with Ambleside in West Vancouver.
- $100 will help HUB organize online learning to encourage people of all ages and abilities to bike like our Biking for Mental Health webinar.