Transportation bylaw changes
Council approved several changes to Calgary transportation bylaws to provide more choice and improve safety and predictability for Calgarians, no matter how they choose to get around Calgary, on March 18, 2019.
What are the changes to the transportation bylaw?
Minimum safe passing distance
Starting September 1, 2019 motorists driving slower than 60km/h will be required by law to leave a minimum of 1 metre when passing someone cycling. When driving faster than 60km/hr the distance increases to at least 1.5 metres of space when passing. Failure to leave the minimum safe passing distance may result in a $203 fine as per the new bylaw.
Note: You may cross a single solid yellow line to complete a pass, if it's safe to do so. If you can't pass safely with the minimum amount of space, slow down and wait for an appropriate opportunity to pass. When cycling, you will still be expected to ride as close to the curb as is safe to do so.
New ways to get around Calgary
Calgarians are now legally allowed the use of motorized and non-motorized mobility devices (such as non-motorized and motorized scooters*, inline skates and skateboards) on the cycle track and in public spaces in the downtown core, including Olympic Plaza, Stephen Avenue Mall and Barclay Mall. See the More ways to get around Calgary poster for more details.
Mobility scooters for those with mobility challenges and wheelchairs are still not permitted on the cycle track as per the Traffic Safety Act.
*This applies to permitted shared electric scooters only, privately-owned electric scooters may only operate on pathways.
Electric pedal assist bicycles on Public Transit are now allowed during the same non-peak hours that other bicycles are permitted. Electric pedal assist bicycles weighing less than 55lbs are now allowed on bicycle racks on the front of City buses.
New hand signals to indicate a right turn when cycling
A person cycling may now use either the left or right arm to indicate a right turn.
Cyclists yield to traffic when entering a roadway
Already in effect, people cycling on a pathway approaching a roadway can now yield instead of coming to a full stop.
Frequently asked questions about the transportation bylaw changes
City Council approved the safe passing bylaw in March 2019 and the bylaw came into effect on September 1, 2019.
When driving slower than 60km/h you must leave at least 1m of space when passing. When driving faster than 60km/h you must leave at least 1.5m of space when passing. If safe to do so, you can cross a single solid yellow line in order to pass a person cycling.
Failure to leave the minimum safe passing distance may result in a $203 fine as per the new bylaw. Those cycling are still expected to follow the rules of the road and ride as close to the curb as is safe to do so. People driving are permitted to cross a single solid yellow line in order to pass a person cycling, if it is safe to do so. If it is not safe to pass while leaving the minimum amount of space, slow down and wait for an appropriate opportunity to pass.
If there is not currently a safe opportunity to pass a person cycling (if there is traffic in the adjacent or oncoming lane, or if a double solid yellow line or median prevents giving enough space) then the vehicle must slow down and wait for an appropriate passing opportunity.
The bylaw only applies when there is the absence of any type of signage, like when a pathway transitions to an on-street bike lane. The change does not give cyclists permission to ignore posted "Stop" signs on the roadway. All cyclists must obey the rules of the road, including coming to a complete stop at a posted Stop sign and adhering to all other posted signage at all times.
An Idaho stop is a common term for a law that allows cyclists to treat Stop signs as Yield signs. Sometimes it also includes treating a red light as a Stop sign. Idaho Stops are currently illegal under the Traffic Safety Act Rules of the Road Regulations from the Province of Alberta. Bicycles are considered vehicles in the Alberta Traffic Safety Act. As such, regulations around Stop signs applies to cyclists in the same way it does to all other vehicles on the road.
The bylaw change will allow cyclists to use their right arm to indicate a right turn only. As cyclists are required to use the right-most lane of the road, unless they are turning left, drivers to the left of the cyclist should not be affected by cyclists turning off to the right. Signaling a right turn using a right-hand is common practice and is legal in Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia as well as many other states and countries.
By allowing for those cycling to use either the left or right hand to signal a right turn, Calgary aligns itself with a recognized method of cyclist hand signaling that is also endorsed by the US Department of Transportation National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Why has The City permitted skateboards, scooters and inline skaters be allowed on the downtown cycle tracks?
Allowing non-motorized personal mobility devices (skateboards, scooters, inline skaters, etc.) on bicycle infrastructure and in public spaces in the downtown core legalizes behaviours that are commonly accepted and currently in practice. Doing so reduces the risk of citizens being ticketed for socially acceptable travel behavior and encourages more active travel options. This also allows users to transition more easily from a pathway, to a roadway or cycle track.
As defined by the Traffic Safety Act, a mobility aid user is considered a pedestrian by provincial legislation and as such is not permitted to use the street for travel when there is a sidewalk available for pedestrian use. As all our cycle tracks are on roads that also have sidewalks, creating a bylaw to enable mobility aids to use the downtown cycle tracks would be in contradiction to the Traffic Safety Act and is therefore illegal.
Tools and resources
Feel free to print the following PDF posters and postcards and share the videos via social media.