Leave a Metre for the Bikes

Biking and sunny days go together so well. Biking and cars, not so much. But as the days warm up and more people get out on their bikes, everyone needs to take safety to heart. Drivers don’t want to run into a cyclist and cyclists dread crashing into an opening car door. That’s why the “one meter rule” is making the rounds on streets and bike routes across our city.

A few provinces have actually legislated that cars are to give at least one meter (or roughly three feet) of space when passing a cyclist – Ontario and Nova Scotia, for example. More recently, New Brunswick has enacted what has become known as “Ellen’s Law”.

Ellen Watters was a 28 year-old cycling phenomenon from that Maritime province. Just days before Christmas of 2016, Ellen was out on a training ride in the small farming community of Sussex, NB when she was struck from behind by a vehicle. The impact killed her and sent a shockwave throughout the province and the cycling community in Canada.

While a one-meter law in NB had been debated earlier, Ellen’s tragic death brought the issue to the forefront. In February of 2017, it made its way through the legislature and is now law. No such law exists here in BC  but just because it isn’t an official rule, it’s still a good rule of thumb.

For drivers, the one meter rule means that if you encounter a cyclist on the road you should:

  • leave one meter (three feet) of space between you and the cyclist when passing
  • cross the median line when necessary and safe to do so (no oncoming traffic) or wait if it is not safe
  • avoid driving or parking in bike lanes

For cyclists, it’s also important to do your part. Ride single file in both bike lanes and roadways. Only pass other cyclists when there is room to do so and it is safe. Ride on the right side of the road with vehicular traffic and follow directions and instructions on designated bike lanes.

Putting that space between moving cars and bikes can save lives. It can even prevent those dangerous dooring accidents when cyclists pass by a parked car. A little bit of space and a whole lot of respect for everyone else on the roads can go a long way to keeping us all safe.


For more information

  • Safety tips and regulations for bicycles, hoverboards, scooters, and low-powered vehicles, City of Vancouver
  • Cycling advocates call for B.C. to adopt Ontario’s one-metre rule between cars, cyclists, CBC News
  • Cycling Regulations, Restrictions & Rules of the Road, BC Government

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James Richards
James Richards is a born and raised Vancouverite who studied History, Political Science and Law at University of British Columbia. His over 20 years of legal practice and a busy and active family gives him his purpose, focus and some good writing material. When not in work–mode, he enjoys any excuse to be out and about our amazing city.