Most would agree that lots has changed since 1957: attitudes, fashions, diversity, communications and transportation. What has changed very little since then is the BC Provincial legislation that defines and controls the behaviour of people travelling on our streets and roads.
Starting with its title, “Motor Vehicle Act” (MVA), it is pretty clear that the MVA focuses on one group of travelers, often to the detriment of vulnerable road users — people on foot and on bikes.
THIS 51-page position paper has loads of recommendations for amending the MVA. It was written by The Road Safety Law Reform Group:
. . . a British Columbian consortium of representatives from the legal community, cycling organizations and research institutions. We support the BC government’s “Vision Zero” plan to make BC’s roads the safest in North America and eliminate road-related injuries and deaths by 2020.
We seek to make roads safer for vulnerable road users—including pedestrians, cyclists and children—by advocating for evidence-based reforms that will modernize the province’s rules of the road in accordance with the BC government’s vision. We have identified 26 recommendations for changes to British Columbia’s traffic legislation. . . .
Equality before the law is a guiding principle for law reform. This requires taking into account the capabilities and vulnerabilities of all road users, not only motorists. That legislation crafted in the 1950s fails to equally address vulnerable road users today is not surprising. It is, however, a good reason to look at meaningful reforms to the Act.
The aims of reform include the following, many of which are interdependent:
● clarifying the rights and duties of road users to improve understanding and compliance and reduce conflict between all road user groups,
● acknowledging the fundamental differences between road user groups’ capabilities and vulnerabilities, and recognizing the increased risks faced by more vulnerable classes of road users,
● aligning the law with best practices for safer road use by vulnerable road users,
● reducing the likelihood of a collision involving a vulnerable road user,
● prioritizing enforcement of laws that target activities most likely to result in collisions, injuries and fatalities, and
● reducing the likely severity of injuries resulting from collisions involving vulnerable road users.
To quote HUB’s news blurb on the subject:
The Superintendent of Motor Vehicles, and the Ministries of Justice and Transportation & Infrastructure are reviewing and researching the recommendations, and reaching out to other stakeholders.
“The name itself is biased,” said David Hay, Bike Lawyer and Group Chair. “It’s inherently favourable to people who aren’t vulnerable road users.” The committee recommends renaming it the “Road Safety Act” to be more inclusive and show the rules are about promoting safety for everyone.
The last update to the Act was in 1996 and the last major revision in 1957, but much has changed since then, including cycling growing significantly and becoming a much more viable mode of transportation, along with its benefits of affordability, health, space efficiency, and better air quality.