N.B. cycling group says more work needed to make roads safer for cyclists
As the snow and ice gradually disappear, cyclists are again competing for their share of the road.
A New Brunswick cycling group says that their sport is not nearly as safe as it should be.
Even with the passage of the so-called “Ellen's law,” they say the New Brunswick government is failing to upgrade laws that would protect cyclists.
Nick Cameron has a daily commute of more than 20 kilometres to work. That puts him in the minority of cyclists.
“There's a lot of people out there who want to bike, but don't feel safe,” Cameron says.
Whether he feels safe often depends on what kind of highway he happens to be on.
“The 60 kilometer an hour, 70 kilometer an hour roads tend to be the ones that are a little more dangerous, because they're more narrow,” he said.
Almost two years ago, Ellen's law took effect. It was named after competitive cyclist Ellen Watters who was killed in a collision with a motor vehicle.
The law means motorists have to provide at last a meter of space between themselves and a cyclist. But since then, cyclists say, they've made no progress.
“We're back at square one,” said Wayne Arrowsmith of Velo N.B., who says when it comes to cycling safety, New Brunswick is trailing the pack.
“Newfoundland has passed new legislation to protect pedestrians and cyclists, P.E.I. has updated cycling legislation in their motor vehicle act, and so has Nova Scotia.”
Arrowsmith says Velo N.B. wants laws updated to cover bike lanes, cycling right-of-ways, and to reduce dooring, when parked vehicles open their door into the path of a bike.
They say increased fines are needed for failing to wear a helmet, and most of all, tougher fines and enforcement against distracted driving.
“Right now we're vulnerable, especially with distracted driving,” says Cameron. “The amount of people using their cellphones as they're driving.”
The department of public safety told CTV News that it will be considering those law reform ideas for possible attention later this year or early next.
Members of the cycling community say they always considered the passage of Ellen's law, to be just the first step in a long-term process to make cycling safer. But now, they say it's a process that has ground to a halt.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Mike Cameron.