Skip to content
Join our Newsletter

HUB calls for reforms following deaths of cyclists

The Lower Mainland’s bicycle safety lobby is calling for law reforms, following charges in the “dooring” death of a North Vancouver man and a fatal hit-and-run involving a cyclist on Burnaby Mountain .

The Lower Mainland’s bicycle safety lobby is calling for law reforms, following charges in the “dooring” death of a North Vancouver man and a fatal hit-and-run involving a cyclist on Burnaby Mountain.

HUB Cycling says the maximum $81 fine the driver accused in the death of Mike McIntosh could face if found guilty is “outrageous,” and a sign the Motor Vehicle Act has become antiquated.

“We have been working on this for a long time … but sadly no action has been taken, and now everybody is talking about it because it resulted in two fatalities,” said Navdeep Chhina, HUB spokesman.

Apart from their usual requests for safer bike infrastructure and public education, HUB is asking its tens of thousands of members to contact their MLAs. 

“This nightmare scenario is all too vivid for those of us who regularly ride on B.C.’s busiest streets. We are hyper-aware of the cars and trucks we are forced to coexist with,” a mass email read. “How many more people on bikes must die before the B.C. government takes road safety seriously?”

While HUB says the $81 fine is outrageous, Vancouver lawyer Kyla Lee argued in a recent op-ed for Vancouver Is Awesome, it was appropriate even if it makes people uncomfortable.

“In Canadian law, including in cases of death or bodily harm, we do not punish people based on what the consequences of their actions were. Instead, we punish people based on their level of ‘moral blameworthiness,’” she wrote.

Opening a door is on the low end of blameworthiness, Lee argued, even when done recklessly.

In an interview, Lee said she would be supportive of changes to the law that distinguish between passengers and drivers and degrees of harm.

“That’s what we want to change. We want to hold people accountable,” said Chhina.

Since the start of 2015, West Vancouver officers have issued five dooring tickets, although only two involved cyclists, according to the department. North Vancouver RCMP had to go back to 2010 in their records to find the last dooring ticket issued.

But Chhina said higher dooring penalties is just one revision the Motor Vehicle Act is in need of. HUB is also calling for reforms that would include guaranteeing safe passing distances for people on bikes, slower speed limits on neighbourhood streets, better clarity for where in the lane cyclists should be riding and when they may pass drivers on the right. And the overhaul should take into account changes in road infrastructure.

“Our infrastructure has evolved quite a bit since this law was meaningfully reformed way back in the 1950s,” he said.

The legislation should be renamed the Road Safety Act, so it properly encompasses all users, Chhina added.

North Vancouver-Lonsdale MLA Bowinn Ma said HUB’s efforts are well timed and they have the ear of government. Last month, the government launched an active transportation strategy for B.C. that offers municipalities recommended cycling infrastructure designs.

“That’s actually a really big deal,” she said. “Previously, municipalities have kind of done cycling infrastructure more or less in a trial-and-error way.”

Ma said she has spoken with Transportation Minister Claire Trevena and knows there is agreement at the government level, but she said she is expecting a relatively short session in Victoria this fall and there is already a busy legislative agenda.

More important than fines, Ma said, would be changes in how the public views dooring.

“It comes across as a little bit folksy, almost … but the reality is, it is deadly,” she said. “The need to have care and control over your vehicle even when your motor is off is a really serious thing that we need to signal to people.”