Politicians seek changes to Motor Vehicle Act to protect cyclists, pedestrians

Cyclists, motorcyclists and pedestrians need more recognition and protection under the Motor Vehicle Act, say Victoria councillors.

Councillors have supported a motion put forward by Coun. Ben Isitt for the city to add its voice to the Road Safety Law Reform Group in calling on the province to review and modernize the act.

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The reform group, a consortium of representatives from the legal community, cycling organizations and research institutions, notes it has been almost 60 years since the act was passed — at a time when cycling was viewed more as a recreational activity than a legitimate mode of transportation.

Isitt said it’s time for a “robust review” to bring the legislation into the 21st century.

“I think it’s long overdue, having a review and update of the provincial legislation,” he said. “There’s been only housekeeping changes, as far as I’m aware, since the legislation first came in more than 50 years ago.”

Some of the reform group’s recommendations include:

• Lower default speed limits on local streets.

• Increased penalties for opening a vehicle door in the path of a passing cyclist, also known as “dooring.”

• A penalty for obstructing a bike lane.

• Increased clarity around rules for passing on the right as a cyclist.

Isitt said he does not want to cherry-pick recommendations, but said a few stand out.

“I think some of the issues around passing and dooring of cyclists cause serious injury and death, and those happen every year in our community. So I think that needs to be looked at,” he said. “I think the issue around speed limits on neighbourhood side streets is definitely worth looking at.”

bcleverley@timescolonist.com

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