1m Passing Law Applies in the Winter

Week 2 – Day 4 – January 14, 2016

Weather: -10°C (-18°C with wind chill) snow.  Roads were snow covered.  Bike lanes in the morning were snow covered with slushy sections especially around bus stop locations.

Consistent Attire: As per previous posts.

Variable Attire based on the temperature: Leggings (Costco), and a dress with full-length sleeves. Notice I am starting to layer less and less?  I am really learning how much heat I personally generate while riding.

Bikes still belong and the Ontario one-metre passing law still applies in the winter.  Over the past two days I have observed three kinds of motor vehicle operators.  The first is the “old school” who will drive into oncoming traffic to provide adequate clearance for a cyclist. The second is the one who will crowd a cyclist and where possible drive in the marked bicycle lane.  The third is the one who drives “just right” 🙂

For all those non-cyclists motor vehicle operators who just might be reading this Blog there is great news for you! Clear guidance on how to share-the-road the road with a bicycle is provided in the Ontario Highway Traffic Act http://www.mto.gov.on.ca/english/safety/bicycle-safety.shtml.  Here are the details:

One-Metre Passing Law:

Q1: What is the penalty to drivers for not leaving a minimum of one-metre distance when passing a cyclist?

The penalty for not leaving a minimum one-metre passing distance is a set fine of $85.00 plus a $5 court fee plus a $20 victim surcharge fine for a total payable of $110.00.

Drivers who contest their ticket by going to court may face a fine of up to $500 if found guilty (fine range is $60 to $500). Upon conviction, two demerit points will also be assigned against the individual’s driver record.

Q2: Will cyclists also be required to leave a minimum one-metre distance when passing a vehicle?

Cyclists are not required to leave a specific one-metre space; however, they are required to obey all the rules of the road.   Cyclists who are being overtaken should turn out to the right to allow the vehicle to pass.

Q3: What if there isn’t enough room to allow for a one-metre passing distance?  Can a vehicle cross the centre median line to pass the cyclist?

A motorist may, if done safely, and in compliance with the rules of the road, cross the centre line of a roadway in order to pass a cyclist. If this cannot be done, he or she must wait behind the cyclist until it is safe to pass.

For clarity the above law applies to the roads year around and not just for spring, summer and fall months where roads may seem more supportive of cycling as a commuting choice.

I know that we all feel that our lives are too short to slow down and share-the-road, but the truth is a decrease in 10 km/hour of speed across a 1 or 2 km road way typically adds less than a minute to you drive and may save a life.

Today the roads were completely snow covered and the ride was slow because it was very technical.  Just like a car, the Batpod has more control when I ride more slowly.  I had a scary moment today when I was passed by a vehicle which chose to crowd me by driving into the marked and visible bicycle lane.  They continued to drive in the marked and visible bicycle lane for a long way.   I was also passed by a few folks who, even with a lot of room, chose to operate their vehicle inside the 1 metre passing area.  If I was operating my bicycle in the middle of the road I might understand these choices (well actually I would not understand them) but I was riding in a clearly visible, marked bicycle lane.

Having been hit by two cars in the past, these few vehicle operators unnerved me a bit today so I rode through some parking lots to get to work. 🙂 My resilience was tested.  I passed and I feel great about it!

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4 comments

  1. Paula Habas · January 15, 2016

    What is the rule if a bicyclist swerves around a sewer? 1 meter from the swerve or should the 1 meter cover the swerve?

    • dianelfreeman · January 15, 2016

      Likely a question for law enforcement. But I would suspect you would be required to give the 1m. I would think it is in the same vein as when a car ahead suddenly slams on the brakes. If you rear end that car you will be found at fault.

  2. Jean · January 20, 2016

    Interesting and great.

  3. Christopher · January 20, 2016

    I would suggest looking further ahead and spotting the grate to avoid a need for a swerve. It makes a person on the bike much more predictable which is always helpful. The 1m passing law is from the person on the bicycle.

    One thing that really helps a person avoid being buzzed is a very visible mirror. It makes it easy to see what is coming up behind which reduces surprises, and people following know you can see them. Sounds harsh, but the numbers of “buzzes” I get on the mirrored commuter bike is significantly lower than on my other bikes which send to indicate that at least some of the issue is the result of deliberate action by some drivers.

    I also always run a seriously bright taillight on my commuter bike, night and day. Makes a huge difference because it is easier to be seen.

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