Passing Pedestrians and Cyclists

image of passing with care signEffective June 3, 2024 drivers passing pedestrians, cyclists or other prescribed persons will be subject to new rules in the Motor Vehicle Act. The rules are designed to provide better protection for vulnerable road users by establishing minimum separation distances from passing vehicles.

Vulnerable Road Users

According to the announcement from our government, vulnerable road users protected by this law include:

  • Pedestrians
  • Cyclists
  • Motorcyclists
  • An animal or animal-drawn vehicle
  • An electric kick scooter
  • An electric wheelchair or a mobility scooter

Minimum Passing Distances

  • Highways with maximum speeds of 50 km/h or less: 1 m
  • Highways with maximum speeds over 50 km/h: 1.5 m
  • Vulnerable road users in separated and protected cycling lanes and on sidewalks: 0.5 m

Measuring Minimum Passing Distance

The minimum passing distance is measured from the furthest edge of a passing motor vehicle such as a side mirror, deck or load and the furthest part of vulnerable road user or their equipment such as an arm, handlebar or mirror.

New Solid Line Rules

In the past, solid lines generally required a driver not to cross over them. Once this new law has taken effect, drivers may cross these lines to provide the minimum passing distance, but only if it is safe to do so and does not affect the path of another vehicle.

The Penalty

A traffic ticket for failing to maintain prescribed minimum passing distances will cost $368 and result in 3 penalty points.

The New Law

157.1 (1) A driver of a motor vehicle must not cause or permit the motor vehicle to pass a person referred to in subsection (2) unless

(a) the action can be taken safely, and

(b) the following distance can be maintained between the vehicle and the person while the vehicle is passing the person:

(i) subject to subparagraph (ii), a minimum distance of 1 m;

(ii) if a prescribed minimum distance applies, the prescribed minimum distance.

(2) Subsection (1) applies in relation to the following persons:

(a) a pedestrian;

(b) a person who is operating or is on a cycle;

(c) a prescribed person.

(3) A driver who takes an action that would otherwise contravene section 151 (b), (f) or (g) or 155 (1) does not contravene the provision if

(a) the action is taken while the driver is causing the vehicle to pass a person in compliance with this section, and

(b) the driver has ascertained that the action can be taken safely and without affecting the travel of another vehicle.

Crash Statistics

The five year crash average for cyclists from 2018 to 2022 according to ICBC is 2,636 reported incidents involving 1.539 injuries and 7 deaths.

Learn More

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How do we determine one metre or less! I had a situation where a cyclist complained to the police that I was too close. I didn't think so and there were no known witnesses including the police. I was issued a ticket at home and was not permitted to ask for more information.

Cyclist can do this as they have our plate numbers but what do we have! Court is the answer but here in Victoria cyclists rule and that just my opinion. We are spending millions on bike lanes to the detriment of vehicles. Three lanes of a major thoroughfare from the city reduced to one lane. More vehicles at a traffic light than before and causing more pollution from idling. Having to wait two and sometimes three traffic light cycles before getting through. I won't go into rules of the road except to say while walking my dog through a crosswalk with cars stopped some fool on a bike almost took us out cursing us at the same time.

The number of persons using bikes for whatever reasons is well below 10% yet their lobby is strong. Our municipality is old and our underground infrastructure is failing and needs to be replaced! But guess what? Bike lanes are getting priority! In Victoria I can foresee a lot more road rage with cars versus bikes.

I read about penalties for passing too close and there could be heavy fines or prison time at the extreme. People having stores vandalized with the offender arrested and released with promise to appear happens all the time.

As I have stated in the past I was a keen cyclist riding thousands of miles annually - in Montreal which FYI is truly the cycling capital of Canada. I club raced Tuesday nights all summer and rode in the Tour de L'isle around the island. An event that attracts tens of thousands of cycles. Google it.

Here in Victoria I may have ridden 10 kilometre in 5 years and not on bike paths as they can be dangerous with the rat packs pushing other cyclists out of the way.

Until cyclists are ticketed for their moving violations it will get worse. I do not see it happening because motorists are seldom stopped. There is a four way stop not far from the police station and it has become stop signs are merely a suggestion. Complaints to the PD are met with - too busy, our cars are too obvious so people will be careful!

If you consider that most cyclists ride at least a metre away from parked cars to prevent door openings, plus you add another 1.5 metres clearance and most vehicles are about 2 metres wide that equates to a space of about 4 plus metres of roadway occupied by both.

Here in Oak Bay the majority of streets are narrow and with cars parked on both sides two opposing vehicles have to find a spot to duck into. Imagine following a car because you cannot pass it.

As I said bicycles rule. Or the squeaking wheel gets the grease.

That only works if the bike riders are following their side of the law…. If not it puts the driver in danger on the left or requires him/her to drive 25/30 kms for longer than I would like.

Bad Cycling Example

So a meter would put me in the ditch on the left. This group persists in riding like this after repeated calls to both police and municipality.

Since they are on my route home and only road home, what about their responsibility to not create accidents?

This is not a sanctioned bike race but their group rides which they feel entitled to. They will not move over for any reason. Their president is a fireman and his group rides cause near car accidents. 

They run through and wobble the elderly and run young kids off the road.

Have you also noticed a sense of entitlement to pedestrians? They just step out, don’t look, assume they have the right.

I grew up differently being taught that one wrong step can kill you and watch out for cars and they have a blind spot where the side window meets the windshield.

People step onto the roads/crosswalks while looking at their phones not looking left or right  and have no awareness of anything around them.

It is the strangest thing and now the driver will be all to blame and not that drivers are not.

I think of last November, a dark rainy and wet night.

I was turning left and I saw the signal for the crosswalk and those that walked across. The hand signal had stopped. What I didn’t see was the father and daughter all in black step out in my blind spot trying to make it at the last moment.

What saved them is the child’s coat opened and a flash of white appeared and I stopped in time. The father tried to blame me.

Where is their responsibility?

Another time again a pedestrian all in black, same dark, wet, rainy night and again a small strip of white on their shoe at the  very last minute saved them.

I am still haunted by both situations.

While they present challenges for the motorist, I think the newly implemented passing distances are a good idea and should increase safety for those with whom we share the road. 

However, there needs to be accompanying legislation governing the use of alternative modes of transport on our roadways. 

I frequently see cyclists traveling the wrong way in bike lanes (a very dangerous situation for all road users).

Further, the increased mis-use of electric bikes, one wheels, scooters and often the worst offenders mobility scooters increasing crates hazardous situations on our highways. 

There is little to no enforcement nor  education for those who use the roads. I would not have known about the new passing rules of I were not a member of this group. 

How do people learn this? Who instructs cyclists or users of other unregulated vehicles for their safe and legal use on the highway? 

Until these questions are met with strong answers in the shape of mandatory continuing education for all road users, we are going to see a continued rise in highway accidents.

Road users simply cannot follow rules that they do not know.

Not sure why they included motorcycles given the rest of the vehicles listed are typically slower than cars.

Of course, given the number of idiots who try to share lanes with motorcycles, maybe it will have an effect.

this law is very naive plus has a great flaw, if a cyclist falls for whatever reason a vehicle will kill the person right away. I have seen pedestrians rolled over by cars because the pedestrian has turned around. When a person turns around occupies a space of about 70 cms.

how does a the law enforce this distance of 1 m when the bike lane has about 1 m wide? the car should move 1 m to the left and then it will crash with the oncoming traffic, forcing the car to slow down and drive at 18 km/h (no regular person bikes at speed higher than 18 to 20 km per hour.

anyways we need people with experience writing laws. we need studies

On sideroads without a shoulder there will be some problems.

Most pedestrians walk about 2 free off the pavement but some do not and that makes space problematic. The only way to pass legally then would be to cross into the oncoming lane, if there is no traffic.

Bicycles are a slightly different issue. They usually ride about 2 feet in from the edge of the pavement which does not allow enough legal space at all to pass without crossing into the oncoming lane.

If the lanes were all 12 feet all should be fine but some are not.

Can you visualize the shmoz on a reasonably busy road with moderate bicycle traffic? Your average driving speed would work out to 10 km/h if you were lucky.

Well now,thats kinda confusing.

I thought road line markings were made on the determination of whether or not there was a safe visual distance to be able to make a pass safely.

If the line is solid there is not enough physical or viewing distance to determine whether a pass can be performed safely. If it is dotted, then there is. This change of rules seems kinda dangerous to me. Not to mention so far out of sync with the rest of the continent as to cause big problems for visiting drivers.

As somewhat newcomers to Kelowna, my wife and I are baffled by the frequency with which so many drivers here cross the shoulder line.

In east Kelowna, where we live, it seems people were taught this in whatever driving lessons they allegedly took. The white line is worn away around almost every curve and even on long, straight stretches, many will drive with their right-side wheels on the wrong side of the line, for 10’s of metres.

As a cyclist, I observe that the bike lanes in Kelowna are basically danger zones.