On New Year’s day, hundreds of New Brunswickers gathered at rallies in Saint John and Moncton to show their support for legislation to pass a one-meter passing law in the province. Ellen Watters passed away on Dec. 27 after being hit by a driver while training around her hometown of Sussex on Dec. 23. She was 28-years-old and her untimely death has spurred efforts to make the roads safer for cyclists in the province.
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In Saint John, supporters walked and cycled to city hall calling for changes to the Motor Vehicle Act that would force motorists to give cyclists at least one-meter when passing. An event was also held in Moncton. Similar legislation has been adopted in Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia. Demands for such a law to be passed in N.B. began in 2015.
As the crowd arrived at city hall in Saint John, emotional speeches were given and frustration was expressed. Watters mother Nancy was in attendance and told the CBC, “I am just overwelmed. I know Ellen, if it was for anybody else but herself, she’d be whooping to have this go.”
Watters was living in Ottawa where she had been a member of the Cyclery team for several years before signing a pro contract with the UCI women’s Team Colavita-Bianchi for the 2017 season in the fall.
“I know she totally didn’t feel safe on these roads because she spoke about being in Tuscon and how safe she felt on those roads,” Nacy Watters said.
MLA and cabinet minister Rick Doucet who is a cyclist himself and has been hit by a car promised to be a champion for the cause. “It’s my first opportunity to work with it because I haven’t worked on this file in the past,” Doucet said. “I certainly understand the frustration so I’d like to work with them on it.”
Saint John Mayor Don Darling and Moncton MLA Chris Collins are amoung those who support the law. Supporters of the law hope that it can move through the legislature during the spring sitting.