Many rules contained in Quebec’s Highway Safety Code date back to the 1970s, when use of bikes was much less frequent than today. With accidents involving cyclists on the rise and several recent deaths on Quebec streets, the Quebec Transport Ministry has introduced changes to the highway safety code in efforts to make our roads safer for cyclists.
STIFFER PENALTIES FOR DOORING
You may have already had the unpleasant experience of parking your car, turning off the engine and opening your door only to realize that a cyclist was just metres away. Phew! But with more and more cyclists on the roads, dooring, the act of opening a car door and hitting a cyclist, has become more frequent, and in some cases, deadly. In November 2013, following 3 fatal bicycle accidents in Montreal, Quebec’s coroner’s office sounded warning bells. While the fine for dooring was a mere $30 – $60, it is now $200 – $300.
To make sure you don’t injure a cyclist and to avoid a close call or a fine, think of parking your car like crossing the street – make sure to look both ways first.
Or better yet, do as the Dutch do.
While checking for cyclists before opening a car door isn’t quite imbued in North American driving culture, things are different in the Netherlands. Cycling is big for the Dutch, and that may be why they have the “Dutch Reach”, a maneuver by which, instead of opening a car door with your left hand when you’re the driver, you reach over with your right, which forces your body to turn and essentially shoulder check.
NEW MINIMUM DISTANCES
There are also new minimum distance requirements when sharing a lane with a cyclist. Drivers must now maintain a minimum distance from cyclists as follows:
- 1 metre on a street when the speed limit is lower than 50 km/h
- 1.5 metres when the speed limit is 50 km/h or more
When passing a cyclist in the same lane, you must:
- Only proceed if you can do so safely
- Reduce the vehicle’s speed
- Respect the above minimum distances
The penalty for non-compliance is a fine of $200-$300 and two demerit points.