Stiffer fines for 'dooring' cyclists coming with Quebec Highway Safety Code amendment

This summer, Quebec's Highway Safety Code will be amended to increase fines for “dooring” and to enforce a minimum distance between cars and bikes.

With changes to law, one-metre distance from bikes will also be enforced

Vélo-Quebec, an organization of cyclists, welcomed the changes but said more needs to be done. (Elias Abboud/CBC)

The Quebec government is about to make the roads safer for cyclists.

This summer, the Highway Safety Code will be amended to increase fines for "dooring" and to enforce a minimum distance between cars and bikes.

The two amendments will be added to a bill on the taxi industry that is expected to be tabled in the coming days.

Drivers who "door" cyclists — that is, who open vehicle doors and hit a passing cyclist — should expect stiffer fines. Transport Minister Jacques Daoust did not say how stiff these fines would be, but said the change would be "significant".

"That is a major concern to me and we have to fix that before summer,"  Daoust said.

"A bike going at 20, 25 kilometres an hour that hits a car door, it's a terrible thing."

The Highway Safety Code already says that cars must keep a one-metre minimum distance from bikes. This law will also be enforced with heavier fines.

Anniversary of cyclist's death

Activists have been clamouring for these changes since Mathilde Blais was crushed by a truck while riding a bike through a narrow underpass two years ago.

On Thursday night, family and friends once again gathered at the site of her death on St-Denis Street to demand changes to the Highway Safety Code.

Daoust said he will fast-track these changes by including them in the upcoming taxi bill so they are enacted in time for the summer season.

"It's a risky situation. And since the summer is coming, we will have more and more cyclists on our streets and on our roads. We have to make sure that we protect them," the minister said.

'Extremely important measures'

The changes were welcomed by Suzanne Lareau, president of cycling group Vélo-Québec.

"These are two extremely important measures, but the code needs to be modernized even more to make it more appropriate," Lareau said.

Another change she's like to see is a minimum distance of 1.5 metres between cars and bikes on country roads, she said.

Other changes to the Highway Safety Code are expected at the start of the next legislative season.

With files from Radio-Canada