New distracted driving law applies to cyclists

 By Stephane Massinon,

 Calgary Herald, August 29, 2011

It’s not just drivers who will be forced to hang up their cellphones under the new distracted driving legislation, but cyclists, too.

Bill 16, Alberta’s new distracted driving legislation, which takes effect Thursday, will apply to all vehicles in the Traffic Safety Act and that includes bicycles and is enforceable on roadways.

Carl Hollick, president of West Direct bike couriers, says his employees have all been warned not to talk on their cellphones while riding and said most usually know their destinations before leaving.

“We are telling them there is a change, there is a law – and it is a law – and we intend for our people to obey it,” said Hollick.

“We’re doing everything we can to make sure that we stay as a handsfree environment.”

 

Hollick said the company’s couriers are also encouraged to have an app on their phone that reads out the first 50 characters of a message so that they don’t have to pick up their phone to get addresses in case a new delivery comes their way.

Calgary police will enforce the new legislation for riders as they do for drivers, that is, there won’t be officers dedicated to catching distracted riders, but if officers spot them they can issue warnings and/ or tickets.

The legislation will not be enforced on the city’s pathways, said Bill Bruce, manager of bylaw services.

He said that’s because paths are considered parks, not roads, and the Traffic Safety Act doesn’t apply.

“It hasn’t emerged as a huge problem for us,” said Bruce.

Sean Carter, owner of BikeBike, said cyclists are more concerned about distracted drivers talking on cellphones, than other riders who are distracted.

“I don’t normally see people (on bikes) talking on their cellphones,” said Carter.

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