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St. John City Council Passes Unanimous Resolution in Support of Ellen’s Law

by John Symon

January 10, 2017 (St. John, NB) – On January 9, the St. John city council unanimously passed a resolution asking New Brunswick to change provincial legislation governing passing distances between motorists and cyclists reports CBC.

Ellens Law  ©  Saint John Cycling Club
The city’s resolution adds another strong voice to the call for Ellen’s Law in honour of Ellen Watters, who’s tragic death has brought safety issues for cyclists on Canadian roads to the forefront. Watters was struck from behind while on a training ride near Sussex, NB on Dec. 23, succumbing to her injuries on Dec. 27. Her career was just taking off as she had just gone pro signing with US-based Colavita-Bianchi team for 2017.

A Jan. 8 memorial ride using Zwift, an online cycling platform, brought together 400 riders to remember Watters, 28, and demonstrate support for #EllensLaw. The St. John municipal council is also calling for a province-wide education campaign about road safety for all forms of transport.

All of this followed January 1 rallies in Moncton and St. John attended by hundreds, adding to the growing pressure on the government of Brian Gallant to enact a 1-metre minimum passing distance between motorists and cyclists among other measures.

 ©  Zwift Ride / David Hendrycks
“There is a lot of momentum now with editorials and press coverage across Canada,” local cycling advocate Wayne Arrowsmith told Pedal. “It sounds like (the legislation) will move forward. Rick Doucet, the minister of Agriculture has now said that he will champion this legislation. The house speaker, Chris Collins, is also an avid cyclist and says that he supports this.” Arrowsmith is the Velo NB advocacy chairperson.

The St. John rally culminated at City Hall with emotional speeches including many cyclists telling of their own close brushes with death on the roads. Arrowsmith estimated the crowd at the St. John rally at 200 plus.

A Global News video of the St. John rally shows dozens of cyclists carrying yardsticks to demonstrate the minimum safe passing distance they are demanding in law – watch the video here. Ontario, Nova Scotia, and Quebec already have similar legislation, together with about 30 states in the USA. That same video also records Doucet promising to push this law forward.

Ellen’s mother, Nancy, told Global News that her daughter remarked about not feeling as safe on New Brunswick roads as she did while at a recent training camp in Arizona, a state with a 1-metre passing law.

Arrowsmith also expressed frustration about how long it has been taking for the government move on this issue. Arrowsmith first met with the former Minister of Public Safety in July, 2015 on this dossier, but the minister argued then that such legislation was not needed. However, Denis Landry, the current Minister of Justice and Public Safety, expressed a statement this month about safety on New Brunswick roads “being a priority” according to CBC.

On a related matter, 2016 saw a 36 percent increase in collisions between motorists and cyclists in Moncton versus 2015 reports CBC. This seems to be a strong indication that new legislation and an education campaign are in order.

CBC (St. John council) here.

Global here.

CTV here.

CBC (cycling accidents increase) here.

Pedal coverage here.

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