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Proposed changes aim to make it safer and more attractive to walk and bike in B.C.

Amendments target heavy trucks, safe spaces and new transportation tech in bid to cut emissions
On April 5, 2023 B.C. Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, Rob Fleming tabled Bill 23 with several proposed amendments in store. This will include making roads safer for more vulnerable users such as cyclists and pedestrians. (Karina Andrew/Whidbey News-Times)

Safer roads for cyclists and pedestrians as B.C. chases a greener transportation network is the aim of pending changes to the province’s Motor Vehicle Act.

On Wednesday, April 5 B.C. Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Rob Fleming tabled Bill 23, which is aimed at increasing active transportation by making it less risky for pedestrians and cyclists to use the roads.

Amendments include implementing a one-metre minimum safe-passing distance and a three-metre minimum following distance that drivers of motor vehicles must observe when sharing the road.

“Making our roads safer for everyone while enabling new and emerging transportation technology, especially personal mobility devices, is changing the way people and goods move safely around our cities and towns,” said Fleming.

“This legislation requires drivers to use appropriate care around pedestrians and cyclists, supports enforcement of regulations, and sets a strong foundation for testing and evaluating new technology and policies as we shift to a net-zero future in B.C.”

The proposed changes are being welcomed by B.C.’s cycling community.

“The majority of local residents cycle regularly or want to cycle but are held back by safety concerns,” said Erin O’Melinn, executive director of the Metro Vancouver cycling coalition HUB Cycling. “This is an important step to making all road users safer and to providing comfortable options for people to get around using active, healthy, affordable, sustainable modes of transportation.”

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Increasing the province’s authority to equip speed limiters and regulate the maximum speed of heavy-duty commercial vehicles is also part of the plan. The government expects a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and speed-related crashes to result.

“We’ve advocated for speed limiters on heavy-duty commercial vehicles because the data shows they dramatically reduce the number of at fault speed-related accidents,” said Dave Earle, president and CEO of BC Trucking Association. “Additionally, speed limiters help green our sector by curbing fuel consumption and emissions generated by trucks travelling at high speeds.”

The proposed legislation will also regulate the use and testing of automated vehicles on B.C. roadways, including micro-utility delivery robots and personal mobility devices.

The changes are proposed against the backdrop of the B.C. government’s pending Clean Transportation Action Plan to shift people out of cars, reduce vehicle kilometres travelled, and decrease GHG transportation emissions by 27 to 32 per cent.

“Transportation accounts for a total of 40 per cent of our annual greenhouse gas emissions. Actions that reduce these emissions have a wide range of benefits, from cleaner air and less congestion to better health and walkable, accessible communities,” said Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy George Heyman.

“A major part of shifting to a low-carbon economy is ensuring people have safe alternatives to get where they’re going,” said Minister of State for Infrastructure and Transit, Dan Coulter.

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About the Author: Chadd Cawson

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