Photos taken by Liz Shearer at the MPI 1 metre space to breath campaign kick off at the Forks June 23rd, 2017

Green Action Centre is a proud partner and supporter of Manitoba Public Insurance’s newest cycling safety campaign that encourages drivers to leave a safe distance – one metre – when passing and travelling alongside cyclists on the road. We attended the campaign launch on June 23rd, the 10th annual Bike to Work Day in Winnipeg. Despite the weather, we felt the energy from the crowd, which included members from the Winnipeg Police Service, Bike Winnipeg, Bike Week Winnipeg, the Flaming Cheetahs Bike Club, and cycling community. There are a number of positive things that come from this campaign, some of the most important being assigning a numerical value to what is “safe”, prioritizing the safety of all vehicles on the road, and being an ally to all cyclists in Manitoba.

In the the Highway Traffic Act, drivers are required to leave a “safe distance” when passing or driving alongside cyclists. MPI has taken this one step further by assigning a numerical value to what is “safe”, giving drivers something definitive to work with. At their launch, MPI provided one-metre attachments for bikes to display during a ride around The Forks. Everyone on the road may have a very different definition of what a “safe distance” is, depending on traffic, speed, and infrastructure. The one-metre distance is something most people can relate to. MPI will be advertising this campaign throughout the summer, as a refresher and kind reminder to drivers.

At this time of year there are more cyclists on our roadways and keeping them safe is everyone’s responsibility, including the motorists they share the road with…Leaving one metre of space when passing cyclists is one simple way that motorists can do their part to help keep cyclists safe and give them the space they need to safely navigate around road hazards.” –  Ward Keith, Manitoba Public Insurance.

Cyclists and motor vehicle drivers share the road and both meet the definition of what constitutes a “vehicle”. Although very different in size and shape, they both need to be treated equally on the road. MPI is taking a holistic approach to road safety, and made a point of specifying that it is a shared responsibility of both cyclists and drivers to keep each other safe. Motor vehicles of course have the added advantage of thousands of pounds of steel, a steel cage, and airbags to protect them, but using language that treats cyclists as worthy of road safety measures as motor vehicles, leaves cyclists feeling valued and confident on the road.

With an average of 180 bicycle-vehicle collisions on public roads in Manitoba each year, we all need to do our part to stay safe, and for motorists, that includes paying specific attention to cyclists as well as motorcyclists and pedestrians.” – Ward Keith, Manitoba Public Insurance.

With this campaign, MPI has openly provided their support to cyclists in Manitoba, growing deeper roots as an ally to the cycling community. Working in partnership with Green Action Centre and Bike Winnipeg, they have taken the necessary steps to work alongside the cycling community to see what works best to meet their safety needs. This initiative is especially important for young cyclists who are new to road cycling, allowing them to gain confidence as they ride on the road now and into the future. MPI is a partner and supporter of our new program this year – Bicycle Education and Skills Training (BEST). This one of a kind program was designed with a combination of classroom work and hands on instruction in bicycling skills and knowledge on the road.

Our program works to ensure that children are able to safely bike to school across Manitoba and engage in healthy school travel… Manitoba Public Insurance’s efforts to promote a safe passing distance will help give children the road space to ride safely, and reduce the risk of potential collisions. Green Action Centre’s Active and Safe Routes to School Program is proud to support Manitoba Public Insurance as they launch their ‘Please leave space to breath’ campaign.” – Jamie Hilland, Active and Safe Routes to School, Green Action Centre

With the growing number of people who cycle for pleasure and commuting purposes, it is unrealistic to treat cyclists differently than a motor vehicle driver. If we want to see the cycling momentum grow in Manitoba, we need more initiatives like this, we need more initiatives like this, along with proper cycling infrastructure that increases comfort and safety for all.

Safety tips for cycling safety, as stated on MPI’s website:

For Drivers:

  • When passing a cyclist, leave a distance of at least one metre to ensure a safe ride. Please leave space to breathe, even if this requires you to change lanes to pass safely.
  • Take extra caution at intersections and watch for cyclists when making right or left turns.
  • After parking your vehicle, look for cyclists before opening your door. Opening a car door into the path of a cyclist can lead to serious injuries.
  • When entering and exiting roadways and intersections, scan the sidewalks in both directions for cyclists. Remember, smaller bikes are allowed on sidewalks.

For Cyclists:

  • Always follow the rules of the road, including stopping at traffic lights and stop signs.
  • Never pass stopped vehicles in the same lane or when stopped at an intersection as the driver may not see you and turn into your path.
  • Always ride on the roadway unless your bicycle is small enough to legally ride on the sidewalk. Many cycling collisions occur when bicycles are coming off sidewalks at intersections or when crossing driveways.
  • Ride defensively, consider wearing reflective clothing, and use hand signals to alert motorists to your intentions.

For more information, visit the Additional Resources section of MPI’s website.

MPI – Motorists encouraged to leave one-metre distance when passing a cyclist

Other Coverage:
CTV News – MPI encouraging motorists to give cyclists one-metre of space
Metro – ‘Space to breathe’ not enough, cycling advocate says