Cycling advocate applauds new bill to protect riders

An Ottawa cyclist hopes that proposed changes to the Highway Traffic Act will create safer roads for riders.

Ontario government proposing stiffer penalties for dooring

An Ottawa cyclist hopes that proposed changes to the Highway Traffic Act will create safer roads for riders.

The bill, introduced Monday at Queen's Park, would see fines for "dooring" rise to $1,000 from $100 and three demerit points to drivers instead of two.

For cyclists, the fine for having improper lights or reflective equipment would go up from $20 to $500.

Vehicles and bicycles would also be required to leave one metre of space between them on the road when passing by. 

A local safety advocate said he applauds the move by Ontario Transportation Minister Glen Murray.

"I think a lot of people will feel more comfortable" said Alex deVries, vice president of Citizens for Safe Cycling.

"There's an increase in the popularity of cycling, particularly in major cities like Ottawa… It's going to be important to provide more space for them."

deVries was part of a committee that made recommendations to the Ministry of Transportation on how to increase safety for cyclists, as was the Share the Road Cycling Coalition.

"What I'm hoping this legislation will do is provide us an extra platform to remind cyclists of their equal role and responsibility in making sure they govern themselves accordingly, and with safety and care so they get home," said coalition member Eleanor McMahon at the Toronto announcement.

Awareness campaigns wanted by cyclists as well

Participants in the October 11, 2014 ride to mark the anniversary of Danielle Nacu's death left flowers at the ghost bike left in her honour. CBC
Veteran cyclist Jacques Bourbeau, who said he's ridden his bike every day for 20 years, said he's unsure tougher laws will curb accidents.   

"You would think having a law might spur more awareness," said Bourbeau.

"But frankly, even people dying doesn't seem to do that."   

In October of 2011, 33-year-old Danielle Naçu of Ottawa was killed by an incident of "dooring". She was cycling to work along Queen Street when she was knocked into oncoming traffic when a driver opened her door. 

Bourbeau said more awareness of how to share the roads safely is the answer to preventing injuries.  

"I find most drivers, it doesn't even occur to them (to check for cyclists) when they pull over to the side of the road and they're getting out of their car," Courbeau said. 

"We hope that the Government of Ontario finds dollars for those kinds of campaigns also," deVries said. 

The bill still needs pass through Queen's Park before the Ontario Highway Traffic Act is amended.

Poll question

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