News / Winnipeg

'Space to breathe' not enough, cycling advocate says

Winnipeg cycling advocate Dave Elmore said the new campaign from MPI is great, but a law to give the messaging some teeth would be greater.

A full metre of passing is nice to encourage, but without a law making it the rule, unenforceable, said Dave Elmore.

Metro File

A full metre of passing is nice to encourage, but without a law making it the rule, unenforceable, said Dave Elmore.

A new campaign asks drivers to give cyclists “space to breathe,” but just asking isn’t enough, according to one expert.

“The campaign is actually great, it’s getting the message out there,” said Bike Week coordinator and CanBike instructor Dave Elmore. “How many people will listen to the message is questionable.”

The campaign launched Friday comes from Winnipeg’s Green Action Centre, the Winnipeg Police Service, and crown corporation Manitoba Public Insurance. It emphasizes the need for a passing distance of at least one metre.

Elmore isn’t dubious for lack of faith, but rather a lack of specificity in Manitoba’s legislation; The Highway Traffic Act (HTA) requires drivers leave merely a “safe distance,” when passing.

“Some people could say, ‘I didn’t hit that person, so I passed them at a safe distance,’” he said. “Without a definitive number I can’t see how we can enforce it.”

Elmore admits that even with a hard and fast rule for passing distance—which he would actually peg at greater than 1 metre wherever road speed exceeds 60 k/h—it’s tough to enforce, but he figures “if it’s the law, the vast majority of people are going to follow it.”

Elmore said the fight to make the law more specific goes “way back,” and there have been attempts made to change it in the Legislature as recently as March 2016, to no avail.

As there are an average of 180 bicycle-vehicle collisions in Manitoba each year—according to MPI’s campaign materials and data—Elmore said he’s hoping the new provincial government takes a crack at changing the law for the sake of public safety.

"MPI is getting the mesasage out, now we just need the Manitoba Government to get that message."

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