Let cyclists turn right on red lights, Montreal tells province

The City of Montreal wants the proposed amendments to Quebec's Highway Safety Code to allow cyclists more freedom in how they navigate city streets, and to protect them and pedestrians from trucks with blind spots and distracted drivers.

City wants amended Highway Safety Code to better protect pedestrians, let cyclists treat stop as yield

Montreal is asking the provincial government to amend its Highway Safety Code to allow cyclists to yield at stop signs instead of fully stop. (Charles Contant/CBC)

The City of Montreal wants the proposed amendments to Quebec's Highway Safety Code to allow cyclists more freedom in how they navigate city streets, and to protect them and pedestrians from trucks with blind spots and distracted drivers.

The highlights of the city's brief to the province were made public Wednesday in response to Bill 165, proposed revisions to the code tabled last December.

The city said it wants to modernize existing rules to reflect more accurately the reality of the one million Montrealers who bike to get around.

It called on the province to support efforts such as the Vision Zero policy announced under the previous Coderre administration, which set as its goal the elimination of cycling deaths and serious injuries.

The proposed measures from the Plante administration include allowing cyclists to yield at stop signs instead of making a full stop. However, cyclists would be required to slow down and give priority to pedestrians.

A Montreal cyclist said he supports that move since it is tough to come to a full stop without losing momentum.

"It's like getting out of your car and doing a push up every time you stop," said Andrew Turner.

Andrew Turner, a Montreal cyclist, said he supports the city's proposed measure to allow cyclists to yield at stop signs. (CBC)

The city also suggests permitting cyclists to cross on pedestrian signals in order to move freely and "without conflict with motorized vehicles."

Other proposed changes include allowing children to bike on sidewalks and banning cyclists from biking while they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Montreal also suggests an escalating scale of fines for cyclists who break the law based on the gravity of the infraction.

Side guards for trucks, more photo radar zones

The city is also asking for Quebec to amend its Highway Safety Code to make it mandatory for heavy vehicles such as trucks to be equipped with side guards designed to keep pedestrians and cyclists from slipping under the wheels.

At least 20 per cent of all cycling deaths in Montreal since 2005 were caused by collisions with heavy trucks and tractor-trailers, data obtained from Quebec's coroner shows.

Of the 12 cyclists killed in collisions with trucks over that period, 10 were drawn under the wheels of the trucks and crushed.
The City of Montreal wants all trucks that pass through the city to be equipped with side guards, like the yellow one shown above. (Radio-Canada)
 

The city also wants to impose a "reasonable distance" between vehicles and pedestrians, most notably at intersections. An imposed distance would make pedestrians feel safer, said the city.

In order to reduce the number of accidents associated with distracted driving, Montreal also wants sanctions for motorists who read or eat behind the wheel.

In hopes of cracking down on drivers who speed or run red lights, Montreal is also asking for more photo radar zones throughout the city.

Quebec nixes changing stop rules for cyclists

The province already turned down one key request shortly after the city made public its list of recommendations.

The cabinet for the Transport Ministry told Radio-Canada by email that it will not consider allowing cyclists to yield at stop signs instead of coming to a complete stop.

 "We don't have any indication that this measure will improve the safety of road users," a spokesperson said.
The City of Montreal wants cyclists to be able to turn right on red traffic lights. (Charles Contant/CBC)

The ministry will, however, consider the city's proposed measure of allowing cyclists to turn right on red.

CAA-Québec also cautioned against allowing cyclists to slow down at stop signs or turn right on red, saying it could put them in danger.

"It's too risky and too soon at this point, for sure," said spokesperson Annie Gauthier.

With files from CBC's Sudha Krishnan and Radio-Canada