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Rules of the road: N.B. government to move ahead with new cycling safety law
The New Brunswick government is moving ahead with a new cycling safety law, promising to introduce legislation this month.
Rick Doucet is government house leader and an avid cyclist who has some experience in the dangers faced along the road.
“I was hit, I was hit a number of years ago in Fredericton and it happened very quickly and I was well on a shoulder of the road,” says Doucet.
Doucet is a supporter of the so called Ellen's Law – named in honor of Ellen Watters, a Sussex area woman who was making a name in the world of competitive cycling, until last December when she died after being struck by a car.
Members of the cycling community have been demanding legislation to prevent similar collisions. The government says it's coming, and soon.
“The introduction should be within a couple of weeks and within the coming months, it will be law,” says Doucet.
The text of the new legislation has yet to be released, but the government says it will require motorists to allow for at least a metre of space when passing a cyclist.
Cyclists say similar laws are working well in other provinces.
“It's important that motorists know that before they pass that cyclist, they have to give them a metre of space. Now, if a vehicle is coming the other way they may try to squeeze through there, but in the future they may hesitate and wait five or ten seconds before they pass that cyclist, that's important,” says Wayne Arrowsmith, of the Saint John Cycling Club.
Many say accidents could also be reduced if roads were designed with built-in room for bikes.
“If city planners could allow some space when they're building a new road for the cyclists and for pedestrians to walk on,” says Becky Consolvo, bike shop owner.
Even though the new law will come too late for one promising cyclist, supporters say progress is finally being made.
“I think the important thing is they're moving on it now and recognizing the importance of putting it into legislation and acting on it,” says Arrowsmith.
Along with the legislation, the government will roll out a public education program to convince motorists of the need to share the road with cyclists.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Mike Cameron