September 25, 2015 Montreal, QC) – Montreal is pressing the Quebec government for major changes to provincial law in an effort to make it safer for bicyclists. Most notable among these is letting cyclists procede or turn right on a red light if it is safe to do so. This means cyclists would essentially treat red lights as stop signs. Similarly, they would treat stop signs as yields.
Another proposed change involves letting cyclists ride on sidewalks in certain circumstances, such as when it involves child riding bikes, or where the road crosses under a viaduct, or elsewhere if pedalling on the road is dangerous. “Pedestrians will have the right-of-way,” Montreal spokesman Marc-André Gadoury told Radio-Canada. “We are talking about reduced speeds (for cyclists), ideally the same or slightly faster than pedestrians.”
[note: there have been some very highly publicized recent cyclist deaths under Montreal viaducts: see here.
Other proposed changes are: letting cyclists ride elsewhere than the extreme right edge of roads (to avoid “dooring”), and letting cyclists sometime ride in reserved bus lanes. Montreal does not propose any leniency, however, toward cyclists using cell phones, headphones, or riding while inebriated. Montreal is also coming out squarely against any proposed mandatory bike helmet law.
It is unclear if the Quebec government will follow Montreal’s recommendations and make the proposed changes to provincial law.
The state of Idaho has been the North American pioneer, permitting cyclists to treat red lights as stop signs and treat stop signs as yields since 1982. No other state has followed Idaho’s lead on this reports Wikipedia, but similar laws are in place in parts of Colorado.
Bicycle advocates, such as Robert “Bicycle Bob” Silverman, have called for such changes for decades. Silverman spoke to Pedal yesterday, praising Montreal’s proposals and calling this period “the dawn of hope.” He co-founded the group, Le Monde à Bicyclette, in Montreal during the 1970s.
Similar measures have already enacted on the other side of the Atlantic. Cyclists in Paris, France are now allowed to pass or turn right on red lights, assuming that it is safe to do so according to le Figaro and PRI.
Radio-Canada (in French): here
Idaho stop (Wikipedia): here