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Proposed law aims to improve cyclist safety in Alberta

Last Updated Feb 11, 2019 at 4:15 pm MDT

(Tom Ross - 660NEWS)

CALGARY (660 NEWS) — A private member’s bill introduced in the Alberta Legislature may make the roads safer for both cyclists and drivers.

Proposed by Sherwood Park MLA Annie McKitrick, it would set a minimum distance of 1 metre when driving up to 60 km/h, and increase to 1.5 metres at faster speeds.

“When I’m in my car, and if I’m not quite sure what a safe distance is to pass a cyclist — I kind of hesitate. But this, basically what it does, it gives the motorist some certainty as to how they should be passing,” said McKitrick.

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McKitrick believes most drivers know how to grapple with bikers on the road, this law would just help prevent incidents like one in 2018 where a truck barrelled into a group of cyclists on the Sherwood Park Freeway.

In the six months following that incident, a collection of cycling groups across Alberta started meeting and will be presenting information to the Transportation Ministry.

The idea is being applauded by local cycling groups, who say it is mainly about awareness.

“If, as part of driver instruction and part of rules on the road, state that you must give one metre — people can then visualize one metre,” said Doug McCulloch with the Elbow Valley Cycling Club. “That young drivers coming up can say, ‘oh yeah I should give a metre. Why should I give a metre?’ Well, it’s a little give and take.”

Right now, the current law tells drivers to pass cyclists at a safe distance but does not officially quantify what a safe distance really is.

McCulloch believes this would clear the muddied waters and further protect one of the more vulnerable groups on the roads.

McKitrick has met with Calgary councillors to give details on the plan, and it will be discussed further at a Transit and Transportation Committee meeting on Feb. 27.

“It’s really great to see a municipality the size of Calgary proactively suggesting changes in the bylaw to make it safer for everyone to cycle on its roads.”

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The proposed bill has not yet passed first reading, and it remains to be seen how it will be approached following the spring election.