BILL 23 2023 - Motor Vehicle Amendment Act
The BC legislature has introduced the first reading of Bill 23 - 2023: Motor Vehicle Amendment Act, 2023. Bill 23 proposes amendments to create a safer environment for vulnerable road users, such as cyclists and pedestrians, and supports the shift to increased active transportation.
According to our government's press release the changes will include:
- Establishing a new vulnerable road-user framework that requires drivers to take proper precautions when pedestrians and cyclists are using a roadway.
- Implementing a one-metre minimum safe-passing distance and a three-metre minimum following distance that drivers of motor vehicles must observe when sharing roadways with pedestrians, cyclists, e-bikes and other similar devices
- Requiring the use of speed-limiter equipment to regulate the maximum speed of heavy-duty commercial vehicles, decreasing GHG emissions, reducing speed-related crashes and making it safer for all road users.
- Expanding the Province’s authority to implement more pilot projects, including enabling provincewide pilot projects and broader regulation-making authority to test safe, new and emerging transportation technologies and road safety policies including delivery robots, micro-utility devices, personal mobility devices and different classes of motor-assisted cycles or e-bikes.
These changes are part of the Clean BC Roadmap to 2030 which are outlined in the Transportation Section starting on page 32.
The new legislation will establish a minimum safe passing distance that drivers of motor vehicles must observe when passing pedestrians, cyclists and other prescribed road users. The Act also establishes a new definition of vulnerable road user and a new offence framework for drivers who interact unsafely with those road users:
"vulnerable road user" means the following persons:
(a) a pedestrian;
(b) a person who is operating or is on a cycle;
(c) a prescribed person.
Additional duty respecting vulnerable road users
144.1 A driver of a motor vehicle must take proper precautions in respect of vulnerable road users who are using a highway.Section 144 is amended by adding the following subsection:(3) In imposing a sentence for an offence under subsection (1), the fact that the commission of the offence causes death or bodily injury to a vulnerable road user is to be considered as an aggravating factor.
3m Following Distance
There has been a lot of comment on social media about the 3 meter following distance specified in this bill as being too short. Here is what that amendment says:
What it says is don't follow more closely than is prudent (prudence may require following at a greater distance than 3 metres) and except for when you are passing, don't follow more closely than 3 metres.
I wonder though whether any of this legislation will actually result in improving road safety? It would seem some of the legislative changes are looking at classifications for things like scooters and e-bikes (finally a definition of "a cycle' !) and for future autonomous vehicles . But I'm not clear if it's actually going to enforce any sort of license requirements on the users of those devices.
I'm sure there will be an outcry from the active transportation people and HUB against any sort of barriers to "active transportation'. But here's my concern...
There used to be a very clear delineation of what a road user was. You were generally either a pedestrian, a cyclist or operated a motor vehicle (driver). Ok, a farm vehicle operator as well (but no reference to riding a horse ?).
Simplistically, there used to be combustion engine vehicles, motorbikes, (plsu Vespa-like scooters), bicycles and pedestrians.
Now we have electric cars, electric motorbikes, electric bicycles, electric two wheel stand-up scooters, electric skateboards and there's even electric roller blades!
Only the first two groups (motor vehicles and motorbikes) require a license, which demonstrates a knowledge or the rules of the road and proficiency in the use and control of your vehicle.
Why should the operator of an e-bike or e-scooter not be required to demonstrate the same proficiency? Also, why shouldn't a non e-bike user also demonstrate the same proficiency (other than for historic reasons)?
When an unhelmeted e-bike operator runs a STOP sign, making an unsignalled left hand turn across oncoming traffic or by "cheating" along the crosswalks, narrowly avoiding getting hit and then accelerates away on his altered bike with the speed limiter removed, allowing him to accelerate to in excess to 70 kph as he passes between the row of vehicles backed up at the next light and the row of parked cars, should that person not be aware they are actually breaking the law?
What about the e-bike flying along at 40-50 kph in the parallel combination bike path / sidewalk or just along the curb, who decides that even though he can see that row of vehicles ahead signalling and doing a right turn ahead of him, they are entitled to breeze past the row of vehicles and through the crosswalk at and the vehicle operator out to have known they should have stopped and waited for what was a tiny spec in the side mirror just seconds ago to now fly by on their right hand side, lest the vehicle operator be deemed at fault for sending them flying over the hood. Of course, the "smart" e-bike operator would have timed their move better so they could swerve in between two turning vehicles and instead freak out the oncoming driver who sees the cyclist dance briefly into oncoming traffic before they carry on straight.
I used to cycle. As a 14 year-old kid, I had a police officer at a "radar trap" yell at me to stop as I was going down Delbrook in North Van. I slammed on the brakes, nearly bursting my tires as I skidded to a mad stop some 200 ft further down. When I got back to his position, he gave me a serious scolding for doing 76 kph down the hill and asked what if it was not he who told me to stop but a vehicle that pulled out of a driveway that stopped my bike instead? I smartened up after that. I also later took Young Driver's of Canada training when I got my license.
My point is progressively more and more road users who will be using vehicles which do not require a license, a demonstrated proficiency in the rules and expectations of using the road. Many young people no longer even bother getting a driver's license but will be all over the roads and make up a greater proportion of users every day. They will be doing so in the most vulnerable forms of electric assist mobility, most at risk for injury and death.
Part of what is making autonomous driving so difficult is that in the real world, things don't behave as they are expected to. If more and more users of the road don't even know what's expected of them, then what?
When I read
I don't see them advocating for a vulnerable road user certification program or licensing. The vulnerable road user is no wiser and HUB telling them they'll be safer relying on others to provide a safe environment for them. All road users will be safer when they all understand and demonstrate and proficiency in the rules of the road.
That's a big enough rant for now., but I did not even mention how it seems much of the roadway "improvements" I've seen to make it "safer" for cyclists actually appear to create area which require much higher cognitive loads to traverse safely, regardless of mobility form, while giving the illusion of making things safer. It's the equivalent of the TSA's theater of security.
Riding a horse (or other animal)
Riding a horse is included in the BC MVA, see https://www.drivesmartbc.ca/miscellaneous/sharing-horses .
Made me smile
Good point - cyclists have minimal braking ability.
So even though Delbrook is even now under review, it's a fact that it's a broad street with excellent sightlines; and a comparatively low crash rate as a consequence. So probably doesn't merit radar, compared to enforcement of the multiple rules at intersections such as Westview/26th and south.
Bill 23 MVA Amendments
Well, evolution is continuous, and now the electric vehicle fleet includes bicycles, scooters, skateboards, etc. The law and its regulations cannot deal with every single iteration of traffic behaviour. It's a good thing that we are going to be moving forward with some regulations of the interaction between 'normal' vehicles and these other types. With repect to the proposed 3m following distance, I would suggest that this is entirely inadequate. Assuming the following driver is actually paying close attention to the situation, he/she still has to recognize the need to stop, react and execute. Given that we could be talking about vehicles moving at 40 km/h I think that the 3m distance would result in a lot of collisions.
Prudent following distance should always be established with regard to speed, traffic and road conditions. Apparently most drivers don't pay attention to this detail as tailgating is the number one hobby of most motorists.
I am amazed that those in position of passing this bill are where they are - what an absolute disaster in a way of understanding - they should go home.