City council gets its first look on June 7 at a new bylaw that establishes rules for safely sharing the road.
What is it?
- The Safe Passing Distance bylaw (Charter Bylaw 19642) will "establish safe passing distances between drivers of motor vehicles and cyclists on highways."
- The bylaw states:
- When travelling a speed limit of less than 60 km/h, drivers must maintain a one-metre distance from cyclists.
- On roads with speed limits over 60 km/h, that distance increases to 1.5 m.
- Anyone found guilty of an offence under this bylaw is "liable to a fine of an amount not less than $250.00."
Where did the bylaw come from?
- When Calgary passed a similar bylaw in 2019, cyclists in Edmonton advocated for mandatory passing distances. Previously, the Alberta Traffic Safety act "only stipulate[d] that motorists pass safely."
- Four members of the public spoke in favour of the bylaw at a community and public services committee meeting on Feb. 17. City council unanimously endorsed moving forward.
- On Feb. 22, city council reviewed Calgary's safe passing distance bylaw. Edmonton's proposed bylaw adopts the same distances.
Why is it significant?
- The rules are intended to provide clarity to help make cyclists feel safer on the road and reduce the likelihood of accidents.
- "Right now, we've got this deeply ill-defined thing that is probably as much a disadvantage to drivers as it is to cyclists, because what 'safe' is right now, is open to everyone's interpretation," Councillor Ben Henderson said in February.
- "Even if you only have one in 10 drivers passing a little too closely, some people grit their teeth and bike through it and hope it doesn't result in a collision," said Christopher Chan, executive director of Bikes Edmonton."But for others, those types of interactions can be enough to deter from cycling at all."
- Following the first reading on Monday, the draft bylaw will be advertised to the public.
- A public hearing scheduled for Aug. 31 will allow for extra input before final consideration.
- If approved, Charter Bylaw 19642 will take effect on Sept. 30.
Photo: 102 Ave. Cyclist (Kurayba/Flickr)