Riders become advocates after teammate is killed

Cyclists that took part in last weekend’s Tour de Delta are calling for a safer passing law in B.C.

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Justine Clift is a member of Cyclery-4iii cycling team that has partnered with the BC Cycling Coalition to raise awareness of the issue.

The advocacy was sparked following the death of teammate Ellen Watters in December while she was out on a training run in New Brunswick. Following her death, the New Brunswick legislature moved quickly to pass “Ellen’s Law.”

The safer passing law states that a motor vehicle driver can pass a vulnerable road user (a person cycling, walking, using a wheelchair, riding a horse) by at least 1.5 metres; and if there is more than one lane for traffic in the same direction, the driver would have to have to pass in the lane next to the one a vulnerable road user is travelling in.

The BC Road Safety Law Reform Group, which is comprised of reps from the Trial Lawyers Association of BC, the BC Cycling Coalition, HUB Cycling and health researchers, would like to see a similar law passed in B.C.

“People want to feel safe on their streets,” said Clift. “So many people cycle for recreation, for transportation, for sport. We hear from people that they are afraid and being in traffic is one of those barriers, so anything we can do to get more people on bikes is very important.

“One of those steps is having better protection in place. It took a tragic death in New Brunswick to get a law in place, but it shouldn’t take a tragedy to inspire a common sense law.”
Clift said this law would make cycling and walking safer and more comfortable for road users.

“With the transition in government in B.C. we are waiting until we see what that will look like, but we are already talking with government to set up meetings because they are setting their agendas, so now is the time to speak up,” added Clift.

The BC Road Safety Law Reform Group is calling on supporters to visit bccycling.ca/safer passing and share their experiences with vehicles on the road. Cyclists are also encouraged to share their experiences online by Tweeting to @bccycle and using the #PassSafeBC hashtag.

Safe passing distances have been specified by more than 27 jurisdictions in North America, including Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia.

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