‘Ellen’s Law’ introduced in NB legislature to improve cyclist safety

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A bike safety law honouring a New Brunswick cyclist who died in December is moving quickly through legislature.

READ MORE: Friends remember New Brunswick cyclist Ellen Watters, call for provincial road safety change

The death of Ellen Watters two months ago helped speed up legislation to protect bike riders from harm. Watters was hit by a vehicle two months ago while training on her bike in Sussex, N.B. and died from his injuries just days later.

The accident brought large scale attention to the issue of cyclist safety pertaining to motorists sharing the road, a topic cycling advocates had long been lobbying the government on.

“I advised the group that we met before Christmas, the cyclists group, the leaders, that it would take six months and more to make it happen,” explained NB Justice and Public Safety Minister Denis Landry. “We worked all together and myself, I’m surprised to see how quick it’s there.

“I’ve never experienced a bill going through this quick.”

Once enacted, “Ellen’s Law” will require motorists to give cyclists a one metre berth when passing. Similar laws are in place in Ontario and Nova Scotia.

READ MORE: ‘Ellen’s Law’ rallies in New Brunswick draw hundreds in push for better cyclist safety

Ellen’s mother Nancy said her daughter would’ve been pleased to see the law passed in her home province.

“She had said how she felt so safe in some places like Arizona where there was a one-metre rule and there were great safety lanes for cyclists,” she said.

“I hope it’s the beginning of other measures to make cycling safer on our roads,” said Watters.

Velo NB advocacy chair Wayne Arrowsmith commended the government for moving forward with the new legislation and for their promise to educate the public on the dangers of driving recklessly where cyclists are involved.

“I think the law is one thing but the government has also committed to doing education on it and that’s a big part of it,” he said. “Educating motorists, educating cyclists is a big part of it and I’m pleased that the government is going to be doing that as well.”

READ MORE: Saint John Common Council throws support behind ‘Ellen’s Law’

The act has now received its first reading in the legislature and is expected to be enacted by June 1.

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