The council voted to move ahead with the report’s recommendations, which included requiring vehicles to be at least a metre away from bicycles when passing them and allowing children under the age of 14 to ride their bikes on sidewalks.
The report also recommended removing the requirements that bicyclists ride as close to the curb as possible and that they dismount while crossing bridges.
An amendment requiring cyclists to be at least one metre away from pedestrians when passing was also voted through.
The report did not recommend making helmets mandatory. Safety advocate Sandra Klassen said it was a missed opportunity and said she didn’t understand why helmets weren’t being treated like another common safety measure.
“Many years ago we brought in car seats, right? This is no different — it’s just being safe,” she said.
Klassen’s son Tyler failed to stop at a stoplight 27 years ago and was hit by a car. He was in a coma for three months, in a wheelchair for two years and suffers from permanent brain damage.
She said she want helmets to be mandatory to prevent the same thing from happening to other children.
A city report stated that the primary reason expressed for encouraging the use of helmets, but not making them mandatory, was “to not increase economic barriers to cycling.”
The report was sent to city administration to be drafted into a bylaw. A city official told Global News it would be returned to council for a final vote in the spring.
Two amendments were also passed and the administration will report back the effects, were they implemented, likely at the same time the council is voting on the original bike law changes.
The first amendment would require cyclists to use bike lanes when possible.
The second amendment would limit cyclists riding in the city’s business improvement districts and in industrial areas.