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Hundreds turn out for rallies in support of Ellen’s Law

Supporters gather at Saint John City Hall and in Moncton to call for legislative changes


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.

RELATED: Remembering Ellen Watters

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.

Watters at the head of the race at the 2016 Giro di Burnaby. Photo courtesy of Oran Kelly
Photo courtesy of Oran Kelly

“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.

RELATED: Cycling collisions reach new levels on Moncton, N.B. streets in 2016

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.