As of May 5, motorists in New Brunswick who don’t pass cyclists with at least one metre of space between the vehicles and bikes can be ticketed by police under the province’s newest cycling safety legislation. The new Ellen’s Law is named in honour of Ellen Watters, who died after being struck by a passing vehicle in December.
Ellen’s Law received final approval in the New Brunswick legislature on Friday with dozens of cyclists from across the country gathering in Fredericton to celebrate its approval as reported by CTV News. Watters was a promising elite cyclist who had a contract for 2017 with UCI team Colavita-Bianchi when she was struck while on a training ride on Dec. 23. She passed away on Dec. 27 at the age of 28. The law was first introduced in the legislature on Feb. 17.
“It makes me feel more confident. I feel committed to cycle,” Nancy Watters, Ellen’s mother said to CTV.
Wayne Arrowsmith was a strong advocate for the one metre law and said the legislation should make cyclists feel safer on the province’s roads. “There are a lot of people who are afraid to go out on the roads because cars can buzz by you within 6” or a foot,” he said.
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The legislature will now start working with law enforcement to find ways to make the law effective. New Brunswick economic development minister Rick Doucet said that it was a work in progress. “Absolutely it’s an enforceable law,” he said. “How we go about that is something we’re all going to work on, but the bottom line with the whole process is the education and awareness has to take place.”
Cyclists hope that the education part of the bill will be effective making an enforcement crackdown unnecessary. “Enforcement is the last step. When everything else fails, you have to use the legal enforcement,” said cyclist Steve Marr to CTV.
For Ellen Watters family and friends it’s small consolation but an achievement nevertheless. “Ellen was the dynamite that cleared the path to make it go through,” said Nancy Watters.