12 things Montreal wants to change about Quebec's laws for cyclists
If the city has its way, cyclists won’t have to stop at stop signs.
It’s one of several new measures the city is recommending as the province revises its Highway Safety Code to improve cyclist safety. Transport Minister Robert Poëti is expected to outline the new measures in the fall session of the National Assembly.
On Monday, the city of Montreal unveiled its recommendations for how the code should be changed. The general thrust of its suggestions would give cyclists greater mobility, while working to prevent serious accidents, like dooring, when a driver opens a car door and hits a cyclist.
Dooring is a serious problem, Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre said, accounting for about one fifth of all major injuries to cyclists in the last year. While Ontario has upped the fine for dooring to $1,000 plus three demerit points, the penalty in this province is $30.
“We need to protect the most vulnerable,” Coderre said. “When one fifth of accidents are because people open their doors, and there’s only a $30 fine, do you think that’s enough?”
He said even if the city’s requested changes would legitimize common illegal behaviour among cyclists, such as going through stop signs, they will have to be responsible.
“We have to be sensitive to the reality, but cyclists also have to follow the rules,” Coderre said, adding that cyclists will have to watch out for pedestrians.
The new proposed rules were welcomed by Montreal Bike Coalition spokesperson Daniel Lambert.
“We made a few recommendations to the transport minister, and these support our position, so we’re happy about that,” Lambert said.
Marianne Giguère, the Projet Montréal spokesperson for cycling issues, also welcomed the city’s position, but said along with new rules, the city must improve markings on the streets and signs on the road to give more place for cyclists. She said more bike boxes http://montrealgazette.com/news/local-news/montreal-cycling-bike-boxes-new-paths-a-counter-and-avoiding-turning-cars should be painted on the roads, so cyclists have a safe place to stop at intersections.
Here is the list of rules the city would like to see changed:
*1. Introduce the principle of prudence. *Put the onus on drivers to watch out for cyclists. This is to recognize that cyclists are more vulnerable than motorists, so motorists should take this into account when sharing the road.
*2. Allow ‘Idaho stops’ for stop signs. *Idaho stops, named after a measure first adopted in the northwestern state, allow cyclists to treat stop signs as yield signs, obliging them to slow down or stop for people crossing in front of them. If there are no people crossing, cyclists can merely slow down and continue without making a full stop. However, the city is opposed to allowing this practice at red lights.
Cyclists should also be permitted to cross at walk signals when there is a red light for cars.
*3. Reduce the risk of dooring. *Remove the obligation for cyclists to ride on the extreme right side of the road. This allows cyclists to ride where they feel comfortable, and also reduces the risk of dooring. Dooring should be included in the province’s definition of a road accident, and stiffer fines should be imposed on drivers who hit cyclists with their doors. The rule for passing should change to require cars to leave at least one metre between them and cyclists. The current rule merely says there should be “a safe distance.”
*4. Permit cyclists to ride between two lanes of traffic, and even on sidewalks in some cases.* Young children should be permitted to ride on the sidewalk, and cyclists should also be allowed when there is construction on the road, or when there is an underpass that is considered unsafe for cyclists to ride on the road. Cars turning right should yield for cyclists going straight in the same lane. Cyclists should be permitted to ride in reserved bus lanes when space allows.
*5. Stiffer fines, but no demerits for cyclists. *Increase fines for cyclists, which are currently in the $15 to $30 range. However, cyclists who break the law should no longer be issued demerit points, because not everyone has a drivers’ licence, and that is an arbitrary and unfair penalty.
*6. Define the term bicycle. *That term should exclude scooters. Skateboards, in-line skates and electric wheelchairs should be permitted on bike lanes. The city already tolerates these modes of transportation in that space.
*7. Prohibit the use of cellular phones and earphones while riding.*
*8. Prohibit riding a bike under the influence of alcohol or other substances.*
*9. Permit cyclists to ride side-by-side when space allows.*
*10. Do not require cyclists to wear helmets.* Such laws in other jurisdictions have resulted in fewer overall cyclists on the road.
*11. Revisit the law on reflectors and lights to make cyclists more visible.*
*12. Change the rule on brakes.* Currently, the law requires a brake on the back wheel. Other types of braking systems should be considered, like those on fixed-gear bicycles, which connect the gear to the back hub of the wheel so that the bike stops as soon as the user stops pedalling.