British Columbia: New Law in B.C. Establishes Safe Passing Distances for Cyclists and Pedestrians

Starting Monday, a new law in British Columbia requires drivers to maintain minimum distances from cyclists and pedestrians, aiming to protect these vulnerable road users.

Introduced in April by B.C. Transportation Minister Rob Fleming, the safe-passing law is designed to enhance safety for pedestrians and cyclists and promote active transportation across the province.

The legislation mandates that vehicles must stay at least one meter away from pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists, electric scooter users, and wheelchair users on roads with speed limits of 50 km/h or less. On roads with higher speed limits, the minimum passing distance increases to 1.5 meters. The law also applies to people riding animals, such as horses, and those in animal-drawn vehicles.

For road users in separated or protected bike lanes or on sidewalks, drivers must maintain a minimum distance of half a meter.

“The distances are measured from the furthest protruding part of a passing motor vehicle, such as a mirror, to the furthest protruding part of a vulnerable road user or their equipment, such as a handlebar,” stated the Transportation Ministry in a news release.

Under the Motor Vehicle Act, police can now issue fines to drivers who do not maintain safe distances when passing vulnerable road users. Drivers failing to take necessary precautions can be fined $109 and receive three penalty points on their license. Those passing closer than the mandated distances face fines starting at $368 and three penalty points.

The maximum penalty under the new law is a $2,000 fine and six months imprisonment.


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