New Quebec rules include more space for cyclists, increased fines for dooring

New road safety rules aimed at protecting cyclists are now in effect across Quebec. Drivers are now required to stay at least one metre away from bicycles sharing their lane and will have to pay steeper fines for "dooring."

Rules also include steeper fines for 'dooring'

Some cyclists and drivers alike say keeping a one-metre distance between cars and bikes on Montreal's narrow streets is a 'fantasy.' (The Canadian Press)

The Quebec government's promised amendments to the Highway Safety Code are now in effect requiring drivers to stay at least one metre away from bicycles sharing their lane and increasing fines for "dooring" dramatically. 

"Dooring" — the common way to describe when someone opens the door of a stopped vehicle without shoulder-checking and hits a passing cyclist — will now cost drivers between $200 and $300. That's up from $30.

Montrealers react

The new rules are welcomed by Jo Murray, who moved to Montreal from Britain.

"Drivers in Montreal can be a bit hectic," Murray, who lives in the Plateau neighbourhood, said. 

"There's a lot of cyclists going around here, and I don't think people take enough care. Especially cars," she said.

As a driver who's accidentally doored a cyclist before, Filomena Pupo agrees.

Though the cyclist wasn't hurt, Pupo says she never got over it. She hopes the new rule will force drivers to share the road more.  

"To me, it doesn't matter. You are the person who has to be extra careful on the roads. For everybody," she said. 

Cyclist Manual Barea, however, says he thinks teaching people to share the road would be more effective than punishing them after the fact.

"Increasing fines, that won't change anything," he said. 

Barea and others say the city's narrow streets and high traffic volume make it nearly impossible for drivers to always keep a one-metre distance between their vehicles and cyclists.

More road safety rules may be on the way, some of which aim to hold cyclists more accountable. 

Montreal police, for example, want to make it a crime for people to cycle while drunk.

With files from Shaun Malley