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Devon cyclists urge passing motorists to steer clear

The Devon Bicycle Club hit the road Saturday morning with a message for passing motorists: please keep a safe one-metre distance.

Devon Bicycle Association campaigns for one-metre separation between cyclists and motorists in traffic laws

Cyclists with the Devon Bicycle Association ride along Highway 39 toward Calmar Saturday morning. They're pushing for provincial legislation that would require cars to keep a minimum one-metre distance while passing. (Roberta Bell/CBC)

The Devon Bicycle Association hit the road Saturday morning with a message for passing motorists: please keep a safe one-metre distance. ​

Riding south on the Devonian Way toward Highway 39, seasoned club members sported yellow jerseys with those words across their backs. 

It's the start of a campaign by the cycling club to change traffic laws to make that separation between motorists and cyclists mandatory in Alberta.

President Stewart Hutchings said the club is spurred by the fact that New Brunswick is expected to pass legislation this spring to do so: Ellen's Law. 

The push for this legislation in New Brunswick follows the death of competitive cyclist Ellen Watters, after she was hit by a car while on a training ride there late last year. 

"Over the years as a cyclist, I've seen so many tragedies," said Hutchings, a retired police officer.

"I'm well aware that cyclists can be right and wrong, but they can be dead right."

He said bringing legislative changes to Alberta that mirror those coming in New Brunswick would protect cyclists and motorists alike. 

"I don't think anybody really wants to have a cyclist death or injury on their hands as a motorist," Hutchings said. 

Devon Bicycle Association president Stewart Hutchings is leading the charge to change traffic safety legislation in Alberta. (Roberta Bell/CBC)

Close encounters 

Recreational cyclocross and mountain bike racer Michelle Jackson does a lot her training just outside of Edmonton with the Devon Bicycle Association. 

She said she prefers to stay on the back roads, but still has to take highway routes often. 

While riding down the shoulder (often in a single-file line with her club members), Jackson said she's had close encounters with passing vehicles. 

We've had angry motorists honk and actually swerve close to us to scare us.- Michelle Jackson, cyclist

"I've had a big truck come really close, like the big highway trucks. That's scary, because you get a draft and you can really wobble," Jackson said.

"And then we've had angry motorists honk and actually swerve close to us to scare us.

"People need to remember that we are members of the community. We have families. We want to be safe out there," 

roberta.bell@cbc.ca

@roberta__bell

With files from Julia Wright and Jacques Poitras