STM investigating after video shows Montreal bus closely passing cyclist downtown
Transit agency promises 'appropriate measures' will be taken against bus driver
Montreal's public transit agency is investigating an incident involving a city bus that came close to touching a cyclist it was passing on a downtown street earlier this week.
The incident was caught on camera Wednesday morning by Stefan Popovic, 44, as he rode his bike on Sherbrooke Street West.
Popovic wears a helmet equipped with a camera.
He shared the video online, where it went viral — contributing to the ongoing debate about road safety in the city.
The STM said it immediately launched a probe into the incident after the video was brought to its attention.
"We take the whole thing seriously because the security and respect of all users on the road, as well as sharing it harmoniously, are basic principles of our drivers' work," said Philippe Déry, an STM spokesperson, in a statement.
The STM will meet with the bus driver and "appropriate measures" will be taken, Déry said, without elaborating further.
Cyclist calls out 'dangerous' behaviour
In the video, an STM bus — Bus 24, which runs along Sherbrooke St. — can be seen nearly hitting Popovic as it passes the cyclist to his left.
"Come a little closer, next time," Popovic tells the driver, when he catches up to the bus at a street corner.
The driver then responds: "Take the bike path down there, big guy," referring to the designated bike lane on de Maisonneuve Boulevard.
"When you're riding in the centre [of the road] there, it's difficult to go around you," the driver says later in the video.
Popovic, who has since filed a complaint with the STM, described the driver's behaviour as unacceptable.
"It's actually an example of road rage. He used his vehicle to intimidate. It's dangerous and unacceptable behaviour," the cyclist told Radio-Canada.
That was echoed by Suzanne Lareau, president of Vélo Québec, who said the incident was "super dangerous."
"It doesn't make sense for a vehicle, whether it's a bus, a truck or a car, to pass a cyclist so close," she said.
"It's a question of life and death for the person on the bike."
Rules for sharing the road
Under the province's Highway Safety Code, motorists are required to keep a distance of at least one metre between their vehicle and a cyclist in zones where the speed limit is 50 km/h or less.
That distance increases to 1.5 metres in areas where the speed limit is over 50 km/h and motorists must also slow down when passing someone on a bike.
Mario Vaillancourt, a spokesperson for the Société de l'assurance automobile du Québec, said motorists must analyze the situation when considering whether to pass a cyclist.
Be sure you can go by safely, signal your intentions and respect the prescribed distance between your car and the cyclist, Vaillancourt said. "Obviously, if all of that isn't possible, the motorist must stay behind."
Not following the safety code's rules can result in drivers picking up a fine of between $200 and 300 and two demerit points.
The safety code also states that cyclists can use their bikes on all public roadways, not only bike paths.
Quebec recently put forward a proposed bill to crack down on dangerous driving across the province.
Bill 165 was tabled at the Quebec National Assembly in December and contains 86 proposed measures, including steeper fines for cyclists who break the rules of the road.
With files from Radio-Canada