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New rules will protect vulnerable road users

By Richmond Sentinel

Published 2:50 PDT, Mon April 8, 2024

Cyclists and other vulnerable road users will have added protection under the law with new safe passing distance rules for drivers.

The new law is among several updates to the Motor Vehicle Act coming into effect to enhance safety and promote cleaner and active transportation.

The amendments will enhance safety for vulnerable road users, including cyclists and pedestrians. The changes are part of the province’s commitment to promote the transition toward increased active transportation and cleaner transportation technologies. New regulations update the province’s e-bike framework by creating a new lower-powered class of e-bike.

“These new regulations will keep people safer on our roads and encourage even more use of active transportation,” said Rob Fleming, minister of transportation and infrastructure. “It’s another step in modernizing our rules to keep up with new technologies that are changing how people are getting around.”

Changes include new regulations for passing distances, e-bikes, mobility devices and autonomous vehicles.

Safe passing distance regulations:
New regulations require drivers to take precautions when interacting with vulnerable road users. The changes establish a new minimum distance of one metre that drivers must maintain when passing cyclists and other vulnerable road users. That distance increases to 1.5 meters on highways with a posted speed limit above 50 km/h.

Creation of a new light class of e-bikes:
People 14 and older will be able to use a new class of e-bikes with age-appropriate safety precautions, including less power, lower maximum speeds and motors that only operate with pedalling.

Regulations regarding mobility devices:
Introducing clarifications to the regulatory framework for mobility devices. Regulations will clarify that the device is an extension of the person, who is already a pedestrian under the Motor Vehicle Act.

Framework for automated vehicles:
Regulations bring into force a prohibition against operation of fully automated self-driving vehicles unless provincially authorized.

“HUB Cycling is delighted to see these steps toward modernizing the Motor Vehicle Act that better define and protect vulnerable road users, including people cycling,” said Laura Jane, executive director, HUB Cycling. “When more people take active and healthy transportation, our communities become happier, healthier and more sustainable.” 

The province is a leading jurisdiction in North America for defining and protecting vulnerable road users. The changes to the Motor Vehicle Act, included in Bill 23, received royal assent in May 2023. The introduction of a new class of e-bikes and framework for regulating automated vehicles will come into effect on April 5, 2024. The changes improving safety for vulnerable road users and regulatory changes for mobility device specifications will come into effect on June 3.

Coinciding with these changes is the province’s new detailed safety study for electric kick scooters. The safety review started on April 5, and will run for four years.

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