POSITION PAPER - Modernizing the BC Motor Vehicle Act

CyclistExecutive Summary

The Road Safety Law Reform Group is a British Columbian consortium of representatives from the legal community, cycling organizations and research institutions. We support the B C government’s “Vision Zero” plan to make BC’s roads the safest in North America and eliminate road related injuries and deaths by 2020.

We seek to make roads safer for vulnerable road users — including pedestrians, cyclists and children — by advocating for evidence based reforms that will modernize the province’s rules of the road in accordance with the BC government’s vision . We have identified 26 recommendations for changes to British Columbia’s traffic legislation.




Nothing like adding the feel good language to the precise script of legislature.

They claim that quarter of BC population uses bycicles regularly, but they don't mention that 92% of those are the 3 year olds riding on tricycles in their own back yard. Only 2% of BC residents actually commute by bicycle. Classifying anything as "vulnerable road users" is asinine. There is very little correlation between bicyclists, pedestrians and motorcyclists, except for the higher potential for injuries. Those 3 are completely different kind of road animals glaringly dissimilar to each other. This is an identity politic laden piece of trash.

I'm just dumb-founded by how these people insist that their feelings get written in the law, it seems they want it specifically for winning their moral ground arguments.
The law doesn't dictate what people do. Moral fabric of the society does. Laws are a reflection of the society meant to codify common practices and to provide mechanisms to keep the fringe compliant.
At which point did we buy the argument that laws shape the society? Painting over the mirror does not change what is reflected - only obscures it.

Making laws that 85% of the public does not follow, nor intends to follow puts justice in disrepute and throws civil conventions out the window.
Its the anything goes world, because "feelings of the vulnerable" trump the facts, the nature, and the loudest 2% screw over the content 98%.

Detailed response

Some drill down to complement my original comment:

Recommendation 1:

Change name from Motor Vehicle Act to Road Safety Act. Disagree.

The purpose of the act is to regulate interactions of road users on public roads in order to facilitate movement of goods and people. Sure driving by the rules is much safer than not, but safety is not the primary aspect of the act - primary purpose is conveyance.

I agree that Motor Vehicle Act incorrectly implies that it exclusively applies to Motor Vehicles so I suggest Public Roads Act. Or Road Rules Act.

Recommendation 2

MVA be amended to include the definition "vulnerable road user". Disagree.

All users are equal on public roads in their duties to each other. This is identity politics and cannot be included in legislature.

Recommendation 3

Definition of "cycle" amended to mean: Bicycle, Tricycle, Unicycle, Quadracycle, or other similar vehicle. Disagree.

Unicycle and Quadracycle are not included in the definition and are currently not allowed on public roads, even-though I do see unicycles.
- Unicycles have no brakes, just like skateboards - that is why they are not allowed. Public Road users must be in full control of their vehicles for public safety.
- Quadracycles - that's a pandoras box for public to expose themselves to potential denial of insurance due to misinterpretations.
Currently anything between 2-3 wheels, with brakes and no gas motor is a cycle, and that's how it should stay.

Recommendation 4

Alter definition of Motor Assisted Cycle to state cannot be propelled by motor alone, consider weight limitations. Agree.

There are motorcycle sized "eBikes" going around on pedestrian/cycle shared pathways at speeds reaching 40km/h. Sure they call them "e-scooters" but really they are full sized motorcycles, with turn signals, headlights and brake lights. Most of the times they don't have their "pedals" attached, but even if they did I would pay money to see someone actually pedal one of these home for more than 1km (https://item.tscimg.ca/TSC/6/65/654/950x903/654507_BLK.jpg).
The paper correctly states that the pedals are more of an inconvenience making the "cycle" even wider and hazardous.

Recommendation 5

Amend MVA to clarify all persons must pay due care and attention, including kids on bicycles. Somewhat agree.

First of all, there exists a duty of care which precedes the Motor Vehicle Act. Any person using the public roads owes a duty of care to other public road users, to among other things avoid injuring, killing or causing harm by way of negligence express or via omission. It is the common law duty. So its already there - just very few people think or know about it.

On the other hand, expecting any duty from kids, except for a regular number 2, is very naive. Sure we can write it, but realistically we don't officially license people/kids as pedestrians for the same reason - its absurd, people have been getting around places for several millions of years before we as a society has decided to regulate the way in which it is accomplished.

Recommendation 6

MVA should be amended to empower municipalities to adopt a default speed limit, without having to put up all the necessary speed limiting signs. Disagree.

It is extremely narrow minded to assume that folk will even know the boundaries of the municipalities, less what the default speed is in one or the other. Currently it is 50km/h on streets and 20km/h in lanes, pretty much Canada-wide. What a bunch of bleeding hearts decide behind closed doors in meetings of "stake-holders" should be well visibly posted. Therefore the requirement to post signs, up to 8 of them per intersection is completely reasonable for the benefit of the passing through road users.

This piece of feel good legislature has been showed here and there, seemingly with-out any regard to common practices and reality. This is where I raise an issue with all these groups being called "stake-holders", they represent a minute number of bleeding heart imbeciles while arguing against the interests of the 98% of road users. I wouldn't call them stake-holders just like I wouldn't call persons robbing a bank shareholders of the bank.

Recommendation 7

Change default speed limit to 30km/h on "local (no center line" streets. Disagree.

And this is the pinnacle of the seeming "naiveté" that these groups espouse. I'm putting quotes on there because this really has crossed all lines of benefit of the doubt and it is remarkably clear to me that this is simply an exercise in legislative control.

I was at the North Vancouver city hall for the HUB (among others) presentation "slowing streets down" and the presenter started out with a story:

"So I was playing with my kid in the local street of North Vancouver, and a driver came with-in inches of my kids playing in the street driving with-in the speed limit. I gestured to him to slow down, and the driver gestured back... haha... no the driver pointed to his speedometer, seemingly implying that he's being legal - and that's the trouble..." on the presentation goes.

I felt like posing a question to him - so while this driver may not have even been going 50km/h on a local street (few drivers actually go that fast on streets which you'd have to negotiate who goes first every block) - how fast do you want drivers to pass with-in inches of your kids? Surely 30km/h is also quite fast. 30km/h is the maximum speed in school zones and park zones - but thats to allow the driver reaction time to slow down or stop faster in-case of a pedestrian conflict. Drivers should never go faster than crawling when passing with-in inches of pedestrians. Ideally never having to come that close.

SO here we have a situation that really is about one or two dicks - a driver who should have known better, or the parent who expects kids to play safely in the street with such traffic. I felt like maybe going to a park or investing in a local park would have solved that concern a lot better than instituting a limit which is still too high for the situation described, which would not solve the issue at hand.

These folk have "classified" "local streets" int heir minds. They are not legislators, nor lawyers. they don't anticipate problems down the road and the head aches such interpretations require. They seem to come from a perspective that the road system is some kind of a gods-creation that suddenly appeared over a weeks time, with all the safety isles, traffic lights, lines and cops watching over it.

Reality is different - streets with " no center line" can be anywhere and everywhere. Streets don't grow center-lines themselves, and someone has to come out to paint it. But first the street has to be paved. A dirt road is the default street. Its not paved or lined, not because it is classified as a "local" street. It is because its what it is. It would need to be further improved to even accommodate a center line. Horse before the carriage sort of deal...etc.

But again, falling back on the original issue - 30km/h is still too fast to be passing kids playing in neighborhood streets and its up to everyone's discretion to exercise a level of care and control to not get into conflicts. This change will ultimately reinforce the issue - "30 is 30 - you got the limit changed - I'll drive 30 here and kids be damned".

I think that a better result would be achieved if we literally posted every neighborhood street at 130km/h limit - that way drivers will definitely notice the sign and turn of their heads and decide for themselves what feels safe.

I feel that such changes encourage road users more to turn off their thinkers than to consider safety. End result will be unaffected, but will make even more law breakers out of everyone.

Fingers crossed

This work has been in progress for more than ten years (I was in one of the original groups providing input), and it's long overdue. The MVA is woefully out-of-date with respect to vulnerable road users and putting these changes into effect will have a positive impact on the Vision Zero plan.

Author of "Letters to a Driving Nation: Exploring the Conflict between Drivers and Cyclists." www.brucebutler.ca

The Road Vulnerability Pyramid

I came up with this idea while doing research for a book.

I argue that as someone becomes more vulnerable, they should - at least from a safety perspective - become more important. A pedestrian crossing the street should be more important that the approaching driver because the vehicle has the potential to inflict greater harm, hence the law that gives pedestrians right-of-way in crosswalks. Similarly, a person riding a motorcyle should be more important that the driver of an overtaking semi-trailer truck.

Our laws do, and should continue to, ensure that the more vulnerable, legitimate users of the road system are protected. The proposed changes to the MVA will help with that.

Author of "Letters to a Driving Nation: Exploring the Conflict between Drivers and Cyclists." www.brucebutler.ca

Flip that pyramid ...

... and you would have a pretty good idea of who pays for our roadways, I reckon.

Another fallacy

You reckon wrong.

Municipal roads are funded through general taxes, not gas taxes. That means anyone who owns a home, rents, buys food or other consumer items, contributes to the local road system [1]. Drivers don't own the road - everyone does. And those who don't own motor vehicles are actually subsidizing those who do [2].


[1] Litman, Todd. Whose Roads? Evaluating Bicyclists' and Pedestrians' Right to Use Public Roadways. Victoria Transport Policy Institute. http://www.vtpi.org/whoserd.pdf

[2] https://biv.com/article/2013/07/news-flash-for-drivers-cyclists-are-help...

Author of "Letters to a Driving Nation: Exploring the Conflict between Drivers and Cyclists." www.brucebutler.ca

Vulnerable because untrained

I can agree on the table organization, but certainly not because of the teary-eyed "think of the vulnerable children" sentiment. Vulnerable is too subjective: we could split hairs down to each car's individual crumple zones, number of airbags, tire boldness... or for cyclists/motorcyclists number of wheels, number of riders, safety gear... or for pedestrians maximum speed of walking or color of clothing - where black wearing pedestrians are most "vulnerable" because they can't be seen, etc. Heck, a fully loaded trailer is the most vulnerable road user in my opinion - virtually nobody ever has any regards for their braking and turning abilities - cutting in and out of their danger zones 10 times per minute, making truckers suffer from near-heart attacks 50 times per day.

This is simply wrong. No "vulnerable" road users please, equal partners with equal duties and responsibilities. And the law isn't written in the way it is with the certain protections towards pedestrian right of way because they are vulnerable, thats just silly. Every single line on this table represents a human in a various stage of training. All humans have equal rights and obligations to each other. The identity politics of splitting us in to victimhood groups, equality of outcomes and affirmative action is the 21st century version of racism, bigotry and discrimination.

But the pyramid is (mostly) correct with regards to the amount of regulation, training and imposed insurance requirements. The motorcyclists need to be flipped with the car drivers though.

The laws are the way they are because, as per usual reality, those that are more responsible can be held to a higher degree of responsibility. And can be controlled more effectively by the government to "obey".

1. Truck drivers receive (required to receive) the most amount of training. They fall under stringent commercial regulations and their business and livelihood depends directly on their ability to maintain Class 1 commercial license, to follow all CSVE regulations, to maintain driver logs, to perform inspections and weigh-ins, to report their milage and to undergo regular physical examinations. If cops, CSVE, Government does not like what a particular trucker is doing on the road - they has the direct ability to remove the truck and the driver from the road and put their business in to bankruptcy.

Therefore truckers, bus drivers, commercial operators drive the way they do - by the rules, by the speed limit (mostly), in road-worthy vehicles (mostly), properly insured and very receptive and responsive to any corrections required from them.

2. Motorcyclists are the second highest trained group of road users. Most have attended actual riding schools - its a really good idea to do so for riding. Motorcycle license holder isn't required to have a car license, but most do, and in either case their training is identical to car drivers for road rules and more advanced for handling. But most motorcyclists don't use their vehicles/licenses for business and don't fall under any stringent commercial regulations. Losing ones license or getting tickets would not be as important as for a commercial driver. Also riding a motorcycle lends to additional physical ability to break speed-limits, lane discipline and to avoid police pull-overs.

Therefore motorcyclists ride they way they do - mostly by the rules, sometimes with no regard to speed-limits, occasionally splitting lanes or taking the shoulder/bicycle lane in heavy traffic. They know better, but they can get away with it with little consequences, even if they eventually get caught and lose their license - it's not going to affect their job or business. Plus they can continue riding without license or insurance and simply avoid being pulled-over by leaving the cops in the dust.

3. Car drivers are nominally trained. They have passed the limited road rules knowledge exam and may have had professional training. Most car drivers have learned the majority of their skills and knowledge from observing other car drivers. They hold licenses and insurance policies usually appropriate for their use and may respond differently to getting ticketed of banned. Pleasure users can reasonably be expected to stay off the roads when prohibited or uninsured, but the high number of no-license / no-insurance tickets show how much respect car drivers have for such Governmental intervention. And there is a real-world justification for that - driving a work truck to work and making the day's pay. Feeding yourself, paying rent, tending kids can be a powerful motivator for some to forgo any restriction other than sole physical ones - having a working vehicle, having money for fuel. But the Government can prevent someone from registering/insuring a car or getting plates, in-case where the driver's license is not in-order.

Therefore car drivers drive the way they do - usually keeping up with what everyone is doing. Mostly following the rules; majority of car drivers are driving in a predicable way - part because of rules, part because of tradition. Car drivers can lose use of their vehicle (temporary), so most stay under 40km/h over the limit.

4. Cyclists and pedestrians are virtually on the same rung - neither need licenses or insurance, or to pass any knowledge test whatsoever to operate, and the Government cannot ban someone from walking or riding, even if they have complete disregard for any rules of the roads, except for institutionalizing them in a penitentiary or a mental hospital.

Cyclists qualify for their cycling position by a) access to a bike b) being able to ride it. Pedestrians have even less qualifications - they typically qualify for being a pedestrian at a ripe age of 1 year by learning to walk up-right.

Therefore cyclists and pedestrians do what they do - whatever they please. The only way to protect pedestrians that has manifested in modern road system - is isolation. Thats why we have side-walks. In Europe cycling is quite a bit more popular because there is a lot more isolated cycling infrastructure. It is the reason why I don't cycle to work here - I'd have to take public roads and it is too much risk for me personally.

The problems of cycling stem specifically from the attempt to mix "oil" of cars with "water" of cyclists - they naturally separate due to their intrinsic qualities: cars can go faster, cyclists can fit in smaller spaces. Introduction of the through bicycle lanes with bicycle's priority over the right turning vehicles (hooking) is the reason for the increased incidents of conflicts resulting in collisions. If we get more people to cycle the way the roads are now - we will inevitably get more injury and deaths in a linear progression.

Cars are not allowed to turn right from left/middle lane across the flow of the vehicular traffic to their right; but when it comes to cycles - its the opposite - cars are required to turn across cycling lanes and must give way to cyclists on their right. We don't do this for vehicles because we know its super dangerous, and we deem every vehicle breaking such rules and getting in to accidents the "at-fault" driver. But we subject cyclists to such expectations and just blissfully say - "don't worry about it - you have the right of way" - and some people actually believe it and turn off their survival common sense.

And another thing regarding Vision Zero. Pareto principle states that 80% of the result takes 20% of the total effort. And the remaining 20% of the result requires the remaining 80% of the effort. Similarly in-physics, it is possible to go near the speed of light by using an ungodly amount of energy, but to go at the speed of light - infinite amount of energy is required.

Therefore, at least in my view, Vision Zero is either a misguided well-intentioned meme that is unreachable in reality, or a malicious attempt to drive the North American society into a war of attrition, where it will require an infinite amount of legislation, and monetary fines to precipitate any further progression towards the goal.

While we all know which road the good intentions pave, I am certainly convinced that we're not going to reach the goal of Vision Zero - 0 deaths due to road transportation - but we are well on our way to the proverbial hell which punishes those who can be punished - commercial drivers, licensed and insured drivers, business owners and their employees - while providing benefits to persons who are unregulated, cannot be punished and cannot be removed.

It is a dis-balance, which none-the-less is being propped up by special interests groups, laws and the Government intervention. But who does this all actually benefit? Not the road users - just the powers that be to do their bidding while peasants are squabbling over who's more special, victimized, vulnerable or disadvantaged.

Until the idea of having separated/raised bicycle highways is not the municipal default when talking about cycling infrastructure, and until we continue promoting emotional ideologies over pragmatic practicality, Vision Zero will be an ironic symbol of blindness for me.

I don't believe bicycles and

I don't believe bicycles and cars should be sharing the same roadways. In several areas it would be possible to move cyclist a few blocks and put them on a street of their own with limited vehicle traffic. Until that time bike lanes should not use the same signal lights. Treat them like pedestrians with a light for bikes. Also at intersections where they have put in concrete barriers extend them a bit higher so stepping over would be impossible and have an actual gate come down so they can not go unless the light is green.

Re-writing of the MVA should be open to public consultation before introduction. One of the big problems of this province is Vancouver/Victoria feel they represent the entire province. What may work for them is unreasonable for the rest of the province.

Something I think most have forgotten but as a young kid growing up in New West in the 1940's I did have to have a licence for my bicycle. We also had to demonstrate that we knew the rules of the road if we were going to ride our bikes to school. Which is another thing most cyclist forget. Every school, elementary, Jr or Sr. High had large bicycle parking areas. It would not surprise me if one took in all the kids that rode bikes to school in the 40's and 50's that there may have been more cyclist on the road than today.

And the MVA under section 182 (2) If there is no sidewalk, a pedestrian walking along or on a highway must walk on the extreme left side of the roadway or the shoulder of the highway, facing traffic approaching from the opposite direction.

At one time every road where there was no sidewalks had signs saying, "Walk on Left, facing traffic". It is time that cops started enforcing this regulation rather than charging motorist for hitting someone dressed all in black walking on the wrong side of the road.

One thing I do not want to see is the name of the act changed. There are literally thousands of references in numerous government departments that refer to this Act. To change it name is going to require hundreds of thousands of dollars to change. Save the money and the trees by not forcing a massive change to numerous documents.

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