Horse-drawn carriages were likely a more common sight on Nova Scotia roadways in 1907, than people riding bikes.
But when motor vehicles started becoming common on provincial roadways in the early 1900s, the province introduced the Motor Vehicle Act [MVA] to regulate the rules of the road.
That act hasn’t been overhauled since, despite drastic changes to methods of transportation and the habits surrounding them.
“We’ve seen so many changes not only in the type of vehicles that we see on the roads but also the way they interact with each other,” Kelsey Lane said, the executive director of the Halifax Cycling Coalition.
Lane, along with other active transportation advocates, has been pressuring the provincial government to update the MVA so that vulnerable road users like cyclists and pedestrians, are better protected.
“We consistently saw how the Motor Vehicle Act was failing the most vulnerable road users. There would be a collision and there would be nowhere in the act that would protect the most vulnerable people using our streets,” she said.
The provincial government is in the middle of engaging the public for feedback on how to improve Nova Scotia road regulations.
The province plans to do away the current MVA and introduce the Traffic Safety Act, this fall.
“We need to modernize our laws, we want the new act to be more flexible and responsive,” Lloyd Hines said, the provincial minister of transportation and infrastructure renewal.
The Ontario NDP Party is pushing to have a new act passed called the Vulnerable Road Users Act.
If passed, the new law would stiffen penalties against drivers who collide with vulnerable road users like cyclists and pedestrians.
Lane feels the Nova Scotia government should follow in those footsteps.
“What it does is it identifies the most vulnerable road users and actually creates legislation in the act that recognizes that specifically,” she said.
The province says the new act will look at everything from registering motor vehicles, to updating rules around distracted driving and speed limits.
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