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.