New Brunswick cyclist Ellen Watters’ death leads to push for ‘Ellen’s Law’
This week’s death of a well known New Brunswick athlete has prompted renewed calls for laws to better protect cyclists in the province and the cyclist’s family and friends are asking the legislation be called “Ellen’s Law.”
Apohaqui, N.B. native Ellen Watters, 28, died this week from injuries she sustained in a Dec. 23rd incident while training in the Sussex area. Watters, who had been living in Ottawa, had signed on to ride professionally in 2017.
New Brunswick is being urged to adopt something similar to Nova Scotia’s one-metre rule, requiring motorists to give one metre of clearance when passing cyclists.
“The one-metre rule for New Brunswick would help educate not just motorists but cyclists and give everyone an idea of the respect that we need on the road,” said Chris Foster, Velo NB’s executive director.
The organization has been meeting with the Department of Justice and Public Safety for the past year to try and get changes made.
Opposition MLA Gary Crossman said the public safety minister has already been contacted about trying to move the issue forward as soon as possible.
“You can’t change the past for sure but I know the family quite well,” Crossman said. “I didn’t know Ellen as well myself but moving forward we need to make the roads as safe as possible for all cyclists. We’ve had emails wanting to move ‘Ellen’s Law’ forward.”
New Brunswick Public Safety Minister Denis Landry said in a statement that while he couldn’t comment on a specific case, the government is aware of the policy proposal and is giving it “serious consideration.”
Triathalon coach and cyclist Daryl Steeves of Rothesay said “Ellen’s Law” would be an essential first start but infrastructure and awareness must change in the long run. He uses Holland as an example of how infrastructure can be changed to make it safer for cyclists.
“They’ve created actual bike roads,” Steeves explained. “There’s a big precaution wherever roads and bike roads intersect but when bikes are moving along they’re not moving along in traffic, they have their own separate lanes themselves”.
WATCH BELOW: The traffic death of a New Brunswick athlete is increasing pressure on the provincial government, to provide better protection for cyclists. As Ross Lord reports, it’s a tragic reminder of how critical it is for motorists and drivers share the road.
RCMP still haven’t said if charges will be laid in connection with the incident.
A rally is also being held in Saint John on Sunday to “ensure education and safety for all cyclists and motorists,” according to the event’s page on Facebook.
The “One Metre For Ellen” rally will begin at 1 p.m. Sunday at 100 Prince Edward Street. People are encouraged to bike or walk from there to city hall at 15 Market Square.
– With files from The Canadian Press
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