B.C. is updating the law to better protect vulnerable road users

The province announced Thursday that it is updating its law to enhance safety for vulnerable road users.

The Motor Vehicle Act will be amended to introduce new safe passing-distance rules for drivers.

“These new regulations will keep people safer on our roads and encourage even more use of active transportation,” said Rob Fleming, minister of Transportation and Infrastructure.

“It’s another step in modernizing our rules to keep up with new technologies that are changing how people are getting around.”

Vulnerable road users include pedestrians, cyclists, or people on motorcycles, animals, electric scooters and, wheelchairs or mobility scooters.

A new minimum one metre distance when passing cyclists and vulnerable road users is being added — which increases to 1.5 metres on highways and speed limits above 50 km/h.

Additionally, people aged 14 and older will be able to use a new class of e-bikes with age-appropriate safety precautions — less power, maximum speeds, and motors that only operate when pedalling, and mobility devices will be considered an extension of the person using it.

It says that the introduction of a new class of e-bikes and framework for regulating automated vehicles will come into effect on April 5, 2024, and changes to improving safety for vulnerable road users and regulatory changes for mobility device specifications will come into effect on June 3, 2024.

The province is also prohibiting the use of fully automated self-driving vehicles will take place, unless authorized.

The announcement adds that the province is a leading jurisdiction in North America for protecting vulnerable road users and it plans to promote cleaner and active transportation.

“HUB Cycling is delighted to see these steps toward modernizing the Motor Vehicle Act that better define and protect vulnerable road users, including people cycling,” said Laura Jane, executive director of HUB Cycling.

“When more people take active and healthy transportation, our communities become happier, healthier, and more sustainable.”