Ontario Passes New Laws for Safer Roads: Can Motorists, Cyclists, and Pedestrians coexist in harmony?

With the beautiful weather now upon us, there is no shortage of summer fun to be enjoyed in communities across the province. Whether it’s taking in the long anticipated Pan Am Games, attending summer festivals or just out for a good time, the reality is that more motorists, cyclists and pedestrians will be out in droves sharing the roads. However, this inevitable coexistence between motorists, cyclists and pedestrians does have its safety risks.

On June 2, 2015 Ontario unanimously passed the Making Ontario’s Roads Safer Act (Bill 31) in efforts to help reduce injury, fatalities and collisions on Ontario Roads.

Legislative Changes:

Some of the new changes that will be rolled out in the coming months will make Ontario’s roads safer for the road using public, which will include:

  • Increased fines for distracted driving from the current range of $60 to $500 to a range of $300 to $1,000, assigning three demerit points upon conviction, and escalating sanctions on convictions for novice drivers
  • A requirement for drivers to wait until pedestrians have completely crossed the road before proceeding at school crossings and pedestrian crossovers
  • A requirement for all drivers to maintain a distance of one meter when passing cyclists
  • Increased fines for “dooring” cyclists from a range of $60-$500 to range of $300 to $1,000 and raising the demerit points from two to three

Although the above laws crack down on motorists, the legislation does not exempt cyclists from harsher treatment either. For example, the legislation imposes penalties on cyclists for failure to have the required bicycle lights or other reflectors, which will range from between $60 and $500 up from the current $20 penalty.

According to Ontario statistics, fatalities from distracted driving are expected to surpass those from drinking and driving by 2016. This ominous statistic requires all users of Ontario’s roads to exercise greater vigilance for themselves and those around them.

With over 600,000 cyclists on Ontario’s roads every day, sharing the road in harmony with motorists is something to strive for. The unfortunate reality is that many of the injuries or deaths that occur on our roads are preventable.

These legislative changes will not solve the road safety issues in Ontario but will hopefully send a strong message to the road using public and raise awareness about road safety.

In conclusion, I leave you with this short video clip illustrating the challenges and frustrations that Toronto and other cities face when it comes to motorists, cyclists and pedestrians sharing the roads.

Enjoy the clip and have a safe and enjoyable summer!

Lawson Hennick
Written by

Lawson is the creator of LawBubble.com, an online blog exploring legal issues, trends, and developments.

He received his Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from York University, and then attended University of Ottawa’s Faculty of Law graduating with a Bachelor of Laws degree in 2009 before being called to the Ontario Bar in 2010.

Lawson articled with a boutique litigation firm where he gained experience in a variety of practice areas including representing Indian Residential School survivors to obtain compensation through the Independent Assessment Process for sexual and physical harms suffered.

Since his call to the bar, Lawson has devoted his legal practice exclusively to the area of personal injury law before joining Yermus & Associates where he regularly acts for clients on injury claims including motor vehicle accidents, slip and falls, product liability and dog bite cases. He regularly appears before the Superior Court of Justice and has also appeared before the Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO).