● Many motorists hostile to one metre law for passing cyclists safely.

Last week Ottawa Police started using a sonar device to identify motorists who were not following the law by leaving one metre of space between their vehicles and a bicycle whne passing a cyclist.

Police were doing this where motorists had plenty of space to leave the necessary room to pass cyclists, and the police bicycles on which the sonar device was installed were not swerving into traffic in an effort to entrap anyone. Moreover, the police were not even issuing actual tickets. They were simply giving out warnings to help educate motorists about the need to pass cyclists safely.

The reaction from a good number of motorists was immediate and a little scary. In social media and letters to the editor, they said the one metre law should not be enforced…… because cyclists are idiots, because cyclists don’t pay for the roads (simply not true), because cyclists are bad for the economy, because cyclists don’t always follow the law, because cyclists don’t require licences, because the law is just a revenue grab, and so on. Some constructed specific scenarios (such as a bike suddenly swerving into car) to demonstrate the law is unworkable.

Basically, many motorists are saying there should no law requiring motorists to pass cyclists safely, or that the law is fine, as long as it’s not enforced.

It is important to remember that 90% of the time, the law is meant to stop motorists from buzzing cyclists when there’s plenty of space to pass them safely. The other 10% of the time, motorists are expected to slow down and only pass the cyclists when it is safe to do so. It’s a little scary to see that so many motorists somehow believe this law places an undue burden on them or is unworkable.

Even more scarier are those motorists who make public statements that they will continue to buzz cyclists when it suits them (and imply that they will feel righteous about it). Since they are saying they plan to break the law, I think the Ministry of Transportation has a duty to revoke their driver’s licence, or, at the very least, force them to re-take the driver’s test and place their licence under probation.

Click here for the CBC story about the reaction of motorists to the one metre passing law.

Click here for letters to the editor in the Ottawa Citizen about the one metre passing law.


3 Comments on ● Many motorists hostile to one metre law for passing cyclists safely.

  1. This is for the writer of this article: As I mentioned in my previous comment, I passed 2 bikers giving them what I thought was enough room, but apparently wasn’t. How hard would it be to implement a sonar device into both cars and bikes so both driver and rider knew what the distance was? With all the other gadgets on cars (self parking, blind spot detection, etc) is this a far-fetched idea? Especially in conjunction with the law?

  2. america has become too dependent on the good ol automobile, its along the lines of give people too many rights and it goes to their head. Thus, the automobile culture of entitlement. In just 100 years we have drastically changed the social shape of america to one of push button laziness. Most people can barely do anything that requires strength and a bit of pain without complaining now. Most want a push button life of easy and pain avoidance. Thus, a cyclist is seen as a menace to society, how dare we go against the norm of hauling our azz around in 3000lbs of metal. How dare we get in the way of shire laziness in a make belief panic society of fear. Yet, the politicians are reliant upon panic and fear, it drives the economy eh! so dependent we have become on big homes to house our big lazy ways and our big cars … opps, and our big debts (most canadians owe 1.67 dollars for every dollar earned … spending addicts…).
    So, what do we have – we now have drivers who think they are king of the road. Anything smaller than them can go to hell..

    we need some politicians with real “balls” as they say. ( as per http://www.bikes-vs-cars.com/thefilm )

    personally, I’d be jacking up gasoline prices to 5 bucks a liter, then a bit of hurt will cause for change. Its not until the pain is greater than the fear that people change, otherwise they get lazy in their ways – america the once great… USA is 18 trillion dollars in debt, canada just 35 million is 650B in debt. Debt is really a true measure of success, or non success. For if you can’t pay off your party and just keep partying, you’re really an addict.

    • You speak about America, and then talk about litres and Canadian debt? Intriguing.

      Look. I have 0 plans to hop on a bike as I usually am travelling across cities and hauling 4 small children and large amounts of their things and things we buy (like groceries) around. My financed crossover costs $560/mo, insurance is $150/mo, gas is around $400/m give or take, and let’s not forget wear and tear so frequent oil changes, wheels, and other maintenance. So that’s $14,000 a year (roughly) that I spend to be able to get me from point a to point b quickly and efficiently.

      It isn’t laziness that drives what you describe. It’s the perception (and reality) of not enough time. I know that I am always in a rush. 4 kids is unpredictable. I could plan on leaving half hour before I need to, and between last minute bathroom trips or a meltdown because a sock is on wrong, and boom. I have 15 minutes to cross the city for an appointment I can’t miss or cancel without owing $50+. Without just sleeping in the parking lot overnight, there is no amount of prep work I can do to make it more streamlined. I don’t even have my kids in anything extra curricular yet. Just the run of the mill appointments. Heck, just yesterday I had everything ready 45 minutes early to go see my husband on his lunch break. It only takes 15 minutes in good traffic, 25 minutes in bad to get to him (sadly, only 4 exits away..). I only had 3 kids to get out, and by the time car seats were buckled and stroller was packed, I had less than 10 minutes before his lunch. It’s like there is a time vortex between our house and car. Even when I’m just casually going somewhere I have to force myself to calm down because I’m feeling rushed. There in lies the problem. I am famous for getting in a car and wishing no one else was on the road with me so I could get from point a to point be without slow drivers and idiots on the road. You can claim it’s selfish, but it’s a panic and fear of lost time at someone else’s expense. I get frustrated at bikers because they scare me. No matter how much room I give, I always am panicked I will hit one (and I usually go into a centre lane to give enough space, so it’s safe, not a question of just riding 30km/hr behind them forever). Just yesterday I passed 2 riding on the line of a paved-shoulder bike lane. I moved into the next lane (nearly hitting another car, and I thought I left more than enough room (what I would give those in the bike lanes on the side streets) but the biker came and knocked on my window at the red light and yelled at me for illegally passing him without giving him enough room. He wanted me to stop or move over completely. I knew about the one metre law, but was unaware of so much more. I was under the assumption that they should have been riding in the shoulder area, so me passing would have given enough space. I was unaware that bikers could take over the lane and that they could ride the line and force cars to stop or move over to the other lane to move around. So, now I know. But it’s taken a lot of searching to find what is and isn’t allowed.

      Just like a slow car, or a (stupid) city bus, or anything else that’s dead slow, I won’t be happy, but I also follow laws and now I know and thankfully it wasn’t at the expense of a life.

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