The One-Metre Rule in Ontario
What is the one-metre rule?
The one-metre rule states that drivers shall not overtake cyclists except at a distance of one metre or more. Easy to understand and follow, the rule has been adopted by numerous countries and U.S. states in a bid to promote bicycle safety. In Canada, only Nova Scotia has adopted the rule.
The one-metre rule is practical. It recognizes that not all streets have separated bicycle lanes and that cyclists are often vulnerable to cars travelling too closely. The one metre margin of safety helps ensure that a sudden small correction by a cyclist or driver does not result in serious injury. After all: “The unsafe, too-close pass easily turns into a rear-end accident, the number one cause of cycling fatalities.”
What is its current status in Ontario?
The Ontario legislature entertained a bill proposing the one-metre rule in 2014 but the bill never made it into law. Under the current Ontario Highway Act a driver “shall allow the cyclist sufficient room on the roadway to pass.” The uncertainty as to the meaning of what ‘sufficient room’ means continues to be an issue. Seemingly the failure to adopt the rule is more rooted in a lack of political will than any significant opposition.
What does this mean for cyclists?
Prioritize your own safety: cycling laws and infrastructure will likely continue to lag behind the activity’s growing popularity. Read Part 6 of this series for tips on safe cycling.