REGINA -- Changes to the Traffic Safety Bylaw are coming, to better protect cyclists on Regina roads.

City council approved six new rules for drivers, five with fines, at a lengthy city council meeting on Wednesday.

“We are very excited at Bike Regina. The whole point of all of these amendments was to make cycling safer in Regina. We feel that passing these bylaw amendments, we have accomplished that,” Bike Regina board member David Bernakevitch said.

The changes to the bylaw include six amendments:

Amendment 1: Require the driver of a vehicle to drive in a manner that is reasonable and prudent when approaching any special hazard that exists with respect to cyclists or other active transportation modes. Fine - $180.

Amendment 2: Prohibit the driver of a vehicle from following a cyclist more closely than is reasonable and prudent, without due regard for the speed of the bicycle. Fine - $100.

Amendment 3: Prohibit the driver of a motor vehicle from passing a cyclist in the same lane that the cyclist is occupying. Fine - $85.

Amendment 4: Require the driver of a motor vehicle to pass a cyclist at a speed no greater than 50 kilometres per hour. or for streets with a posted speed limit equal to or exceeding 80 kilometres per hour at a speed no greater than 70 kilometres per hour, with exceptions for:

  • a. passing cyclists who are operating in a designated bicycle lane
  • b. where two or more lanes of travel in the same direction exist and the vehicle is travelling with at least one full lane away from the cyclist occupying the shoulder. Fine - $180.

Amendment 5: Add bicycles to section 53 of the Traffic Bylaw which already states that no person shall open the door of a vehicle unless it is safe to do so and can be done without interfering with the movement of traffic. Change fine from $70 to $180.

Amendment 6: Permit cyclists to operate on a street designated as a one-way street in the opposite direction where a contraflow bicycle only lane exists as marked by signs or pavement markings.

“I know that our city communications team is busy advancing PSA’s, so I suspect that when they come into effect that the education piece will be a big part of it,” Mayor Sandra Masters said.

Bernakevitch said there are still many motorists who don’t feel they should share the road with cyclists.

“Hopefully that changes that percentage and lowers it a substantial amount,” Bike Regina board member David Bernakevitch said.

Councillor Dan LeBlanc said the fines will come into effect when the bylaw changes are passed, likely in a couple weeks.

A seventh amendment that would prohibit cyclists from riding on Ring Road from 200 metres east of Pasqua Street to Victoria Avenue was removed from the list of new rules.

LeBlanc argued cyclists know their abilities and can judge what is safe or not. Bernakevitch said that route is used by some of Bike Regina’s members to get to work.

“I have concerns about bike traffic on Ring Road, specifically between Victoria Avenue and North Albert. That stretch, knowing that it backs up with rail as well.” Mayor of Regina Sandra Masters said.

“We didn’t want cyclists to be prohibited from any road. Even if it makes sense to remove the cyclists from the roadway, we feel that it sets a precedence for other roadways that might not make much sense,” Bike Regina board member David Bernakevitch said.

Bike Regina would still like to have a set distance that motorists must have when passing a cyclist on the road. A constable with the Regina Police Service said proving a set distance in court is difficult, which is why there is a rule prohibiting drivers from passing at certain speeds, and following a cyclist at a distance closer than what is reasonable.

The Province of Ontario and Cities of Saskatoon and Calgary all have rules that require vehicles give a minimum distance of one metre when passing a cyclist. Bernakevitch said if other municipalities can do it, Regina should be able to as well.

Masters said council will watch how the fines play out, and will make adjustments if needed.