It’s no secret that there are drivers who simply refuse to share the road, and in turn endanger the life of cyclists’ everyday.
This is why Cheri DiNovo, NDP MPP for Parkdale-High Park, and Eleanor McMahon of the Share the Road Cycling Coalition held a rally and press conference at Queens Park this morning to promote Canada’s first three-foot passing legislation. DiNovo, side-by-side with McMahon and Yvonne Bambrick of the Toronto Cyclists Union told a group of about 40 cyclists that this is a step in the right direction for cyclists in Toronto.
“You are a testament to a new world, a world with better air, a world safer for people, both health-wise and environment-wise, and a world where we share the roads, we don’t hog the roads,” DiNovo said.
The proposed bill requires that drivers respectfully share the road with cyclists and give them three feet of clearance when passing or overtaking a cyclist. “This is asking of drivers what good drivers already do, and… it’s a chance to educate bad drivers,” DiNovo said in front of the Ontario Legislature.
The Share the Road Coalition completed a survey of 1,100 Ontarians. When asked why they don’t cycle more often the response of about 60% was that they are too worried about their safety on the road.
The three-foot passing bill will enforce what good drivers already practice, said both DiNovo and McMahon, but will force bad drivers to undergo a training course in which they are taught to share the road and be respectful of all those on it. She said with the passing of this legislation, drivers would be taught in initial drivers’ education, as well as rehabilitation driving classes, their responsibility to share the road.
This comes on the heels of the deaths of three cyclists who where killed on a highway in Quebec, as well as two separate instances where a 57-year-old Quebec man, and a 17-year-old were killed by motorists. This is also a personal fight for McMahon, whose police officer husband was killed by a motorist while on his bike in 2006.
“We’ve got a level of complacency in our society now in regards to motorists and cyclists,” said McMahon. “It reminds us that as cyclists we’re vulnerable, and again just reinforces the need for this kind of legislation to enforce the importance of sharing the road,” she added.
Const. Hugh Smith of the Toronto Police Services Traffic Division gave a little clarity to the rules of the road. “With a cyclist they only occupy part of the lane… because they do occupy part of the lane they do have the right to the whole lane.”
“This is the confusion that we’re finding, that it’s not clear to other road users to treat a cycle as a slow moving vehicle.”
The bill will go before legislation today and all involved are confident that it will be passed and that the beginning stages can begin to create the law.
“We hope the government is listening to what we have to say today and moving forward in terms of creating the kinds of safer ways that are going to encourage cyclists in this province,” said McMahon.
Legislation of the same type is in place in France, Spain, Germany and 16 states in the States. A website created by a Miami cyclist Joe Wascura, 3feetplease, sells some great t-shirts, backpacks, jerseys and bumper (or more accurately, bike frame) stickers sporting the “3 feet please” request that cyclists can don when they take to the roads.
Bambrick asks that everyone write to their MPP in support of this bill.
“We all know why we’re here. Until they hear from us across the city we’re not going to see changes.”
photo by 416cyclestyle