One-metre RULE MPI told to reinforce message to drivers, cyclists
By: Bruce Owen
It doesn't feel like bicycling weather now, but in a few months, thousands
of cyclists will take to Winnipeg streets and resume the annual jostling
between bicycles and vehicles.
In a recent decision, the Public Utilities Board recommended Manitoba
Public Insurance "reinforce" the message of a one-metre passing distance
between motor vehicles and cyclists.
The PUB also wants MPI to conduct detailed research, including mapping, of
collision history in the province to present at a hearing expected later
Cycling advocates say the public regulator didn't specify how MPI should
reinforce the message of safe passing distance.
"It is good to see the order for mapping of pedestrian and cycling
collisions, but it's disappointing to see that many items have been left as
recommendations, not orders," Bike Winnipeg executive director Mark Cohoe
"Personally, I had hoped for more, however, I am not terribly surprised,"
added Winnipeg CAN-Bike safety instructor Dave Elmore. "It moves some of
our arguments a bit further, but not much.
"The question is what does reinforce mean? MPI's reluctance to push this
safety measure comes from the fact it is not a requirement of the Highway
Traffic Act and thus not really enforceable."
Elmore appeared on behalf of Bike Winnipeg, a cycling advocacy group, at
the PUB. He argued in order to make city streets safer, MPI should improve
its messaging and driver training to emphasize a safer passing distance of
one metre between a cyclist and a motor vehicle, and this distance should
be increased for speeds greater than 50 km/h.
MPI has said between 2001 and 2010, 13 cyclists were killed, 68 were
seriously injured and 2,144 were injured less seriously.
Elmore also told the PUB it is not sufficient for a motor vehicle and
cyclist to share a lane, given the standard width of a lane, adding the
term "share the road" is often misinterpreted by motorists as sharing the
Bike Winnipeg wants changes to the Highway Traffic Act to make the
one-metre guideline law.
MPI has said it has met with cyclist groups to update the information it
gives to the public about cycling safetyin brochures and on its website.
The PUB also wants the province to consider a meeting to review whether MPI
is doing and spending enough to promote road safety.
In 2012-13, MPI's road-safety and loss-prevention expenses were $13.1
million, which was y $1.7 million less than initially forecast. Road-safety
expenses are forecast to decrease to $12.4 million in 2013-14, to $11.5
million in 2014-15 and to $10.6 million in 2015-16.
MPI CEO and president Marilyn McLaren said the corporation will continue to
work to fulfil its road-safety mandate.
"It is not immediately clear what more could be learned through a
significantly larger investment in research and analysis about Manitoba
vehicle collisions," she said.
"Road-safety programming efficacy is a priority across the globe and we
will continue to work with Manitobans to reduce risk on our roadways."
Elmore said because the PUB has no jurisdiction over the province, a future
meeting "is likely to fall upon what we have found, to date, to be deaf
Cohoe said research in other jurisdictions has shown many collisions go
unreported and more has to be done between MPI, health authorities and
police departments and the public to capture those unreported collisions.
"This is especially true for collisions involving cyclists as no one agency
has the mandate to capture all collisions," he said.
"MPI only counts collisions that involve motorized vehicles."
*Safety programs put to the test*
THE Public Utilities Board says because so little is known about the
effectiveness of MPI's road-safety programs, it wants the Crown auto
insurer to hit the books to minimize economic and social costs of
collisions. "MPI is in the unique position of gathering the most driving
and vehicle data in Manitoba. It can provide a leadership role in providing
data and conducting research regarding road safety. It is the view of the
board that MPI can -- and should -- facilitate or conduct more research and
analysis regarding road safety issues," the PUB said in a recent order. For
the next rate application next fall the board wants MPI to:
A. Produce an updated map of collisions and fatalities related to
pedestrian/motor-vehicle accidents in Winnipeg and in rural Manitoba and
report on any patterns; B. Produce an updated map of collisions and
fatalities related to cyclist/motor vehicle accidents in Winnipeg and in
rural Manitoba and report on any patterns; C. Produce an updated map of
collisions and fatalities related to motorcyclist/motor vehicle accidents
in Winnipeg and in rural Manitoba and report on any patterns.
D. Conduct a summative evaluation/benchmarking analysis of its high-school
driver education program, focusing on whether there is a difference in
outcomes for drivers who have completed the program versus drivers who have
E. Provide the results of the analysis in (d) above together with an update
regarding the Autopac's plans for changes to the High School Driver
F. Provide an independent review of the current road-safety portfolio with
a view to optimizing it (and setting goals for outcomes) and minimizing the
economic and social costs of collisions; and
G. Provide an independent review of the optimal size of a road-safety
budget portfolio for the corporation with a view to minimizing the economic
and social costs of collisions.
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 2, 2014 A8