Does Edmonton need a bike 'buffer zone'? Cyclist advocates think so
The executive director of an Edmonton-based advocacy group says she thinks the city should steal Calgary’s idea to legislate a safety buffer zone around cyclists.
On Sunday, a new safe passing law went into effect in Calgary that requires drivers to give cyclists at least a metre of space when passing them on roads where the speed limit is 60 kilometres an hour or less.
On roads where the speed limit is higher than 60 km/h, drivers are required to afford cyclists a metre-and-a-half of space.
Any drivers who fail to provide the mandated distance can be hit with a fine of $203.
While Edmonton has built some protected bike lanes to keep cyclists safe, no such passing law exists in Alberta’s capital.
But Sarah Hoyles, executive director for Paths for People, said that should change.
“We would love to see there be an actual metre regulation for cyclists and cars, that safe distance,” Hoyles told CTV News Tuesday. “Really it’s just about making sure there are parameters in place so people know the rules of the road.”
Hoyles said she’d expect similar legislation would meet with some resistance in Edmonton, but it would make the streets safer for not just cyclists, but drivers as well.
“Change is really hard, so there’s obviously going to be some time for people to adjust and get used to the idea,” she said. “Ultimately if people were to consider who this benefits, it benefits everyone.”
The City of Edmonton requires that cyclists ride as close to the curb as safely as possible and only ride in single file other than to pass.
It also recommends that cyclists and motorists give each other one metre of space when passing one another, but no law currently exists to enforce the rule.
“The recommendation is good, but it still doesn’t go the full extent to explain the difference,” said Aaron Schooler, co-chair of the Alberta Cycling Coalition.
The coalition presented a report to Calgary council before it voted to approve the safe distance rule and said it has also been in touch with the City of Edmonton to recommend it adopt the legislation.
Schooler said the coalition is also pushing for a meeting with the provincial government in hopes it can enact an Alberta-wide change to the Traffic Safety Act.
CTV News has reached out to the City of Edmonton to ask whether council would consider implementing a similar safe distance rule.