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Edmonton implements new bike passing distance requirements

The breaking the new rules could cost drivers $250

On Sept. 1, 2021, Edmonton, Alb.’s city council unanimously approved a new safe passing distance requirement rule. Drivers will now be required to give more room when approaching cyclists on the streets of Edmonton.

Currently, drivers must pass cyclists “in a safe manner,” though the law doesn’t specify what that entails, or how much space they need to give to cyclists. As of Sept. 30, motorists will be required to move over at least one metre on roads with a speed limit of 60 km/h or less and 1.5 metres on roads over 60 km/h when passing cyclists.

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Drivers who don’t give cyclists adequate space could face a fine of $250—police can hand out tickets if they catch a driver violating the rule or if there is a collision due to a driver not giving enough space. That being said, Edmonton’s director of safe mobility Jessica Lamarre told the Edmonton Journal that awareness of the new rule will be the priority over issuing fines.

Passing in Canada

Edmonton is following in the footsteps of places such as Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia. In 2019, Calgary, Alb., put in place a passing law that made it mandatory for drivers to give cyclists at least one metre of space. Though Alberta’s Traffic Safety Act doesn’t specify any required distance when passing cyclists, the province’s two biggest cities now have similar one (and 1.5) metre passing rules.

In 2020, 11 cyclists were seriously injured on Edmonton streets. The new Edmonton passing distance requirements are part of the city’s Vision Zero plan, which seeks to “eliminate all traffic fatalities and serious injuries while increasing safe, healthy, equitable mobility for all.”

This month, Edmonton also reduced the speed limit from 50 km/h to 40 km/h on most residential and downtown streets.