With warmer temperatures come more cyclists on the road, and Nathalie Valois of the Montreal police’s bicycle safety unit said police are softening their approach in applying several rules of the Highway Safety Code to cyclists.
Montreal police will tolerate cyclists wearing one earphone as long as it’s plugged into a phone.
“We know that cyclists, like drivers, get around with their phone. So we tolerate one earphone if we know it’s connected to a cellphone,” Valois said.
In Montreal, one in three collisions involving a cyclist is related to distractions or inattention.
Valois said it’s not necessary for cyclists to place their foot on the ground every time they come to an intersection or stop.
She said the important thing is that cyclists slow down considerably and look left and right at stop signs to make sure the path is clear before proceeding.
Fine for failure to stop: $37 and three demerit points
3. Lights and reflectors
The Highway Safety Code says cyclists need a white light in front and a red light in the back, in addition to reflectors in the front, back and on the pedals.
Valois said for now, police will be focusing on prevention measures. She said officers will hand out lights to cyclists for free to encourage them to use them at night.
In Montreal, one in five collisions involving cyclists happen at night.
More protection for cyclists
Since the start of March, nine people have been hit by vehicles while walking or biking in Montreal, said Projet Montreal leader Richard Bergeron at a news conference Friday.
He said he wants to see the Highway Safety Code updated to better protect pedestrians and cyclists.
A 30-year-old woman died April 3 while crossing the street on foot at a green light. She was struck by a dump truck.
Bergeron is specifically calling for stronger rules regarding dooring — when drivers open their car doors without checking for oncoming cyclists.
Dooring has led to a number of accidents in recent years in Montreal, including several deaths.
The current Highway Safety Code says it’s illegal to open the door of a vehicle unless it has come to a full stop and the driver has ascertained the door can be opened safely.
However, the fine for improper door-opening is only $52 and does not cost the driver any demerit points.
In Ontario, the government is currently reviewing increasing the fines for dooring to up to $1,000, as well as increasing the number of demerit points at stake.
Click here for more on the fines Montreal police hand out to cyclists and drivers when it comes to cycling.