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Weston to launch National Strategy on Cycling

Federal official addresses House of Commons in wake of highway deaths



As one of the leading advocates for safe cycling in the House of Commons, the tragic deaths of two Whistler cyclists last month hit especially hard for John Weston.

"Any human being, any fellow dad, any fellow cyclist has to be heartbroken by what happened," said Weston, MP for West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country.

Following the accident on May 31 that claimed the lives of local cyclists Ross Chafe and Kelly Blunden, as well as vehicle passenger and Lil'wat First Nation member Paul Maurice Pierre Jr., Weston urged his fellow MPs to recognize "the need for not only greater awareness (of the value of cycling), but a fundamental change in how cycling integrates into communities."

To that end, Weston is working with cycling clubs and organizations across the country to create a National Strategy on Cycling, which is aimed at incorporating the increasingly popular recreation into transportation planning and federal budgeting.

"Even though a lot of these things are provincial or local in application, we can create a national framework and invite provinces voluntarily to opt in on them," Weston said in a phone call to Pique. "Meanwhile, it can also encourage our minister of transport to make cycling part of any roadways she's tasked with building across the country, and our minister of finance to look at ways that cycling and cyclists can be encouraged given the positive benefits for society, the environment, the economy, health and tourism."

Weston will host a forum moderated by the chair of federal non-profit Canada Bikes, with Senator Nancy Greene Raine and other cyclists to discuss the national strategy at Brennan Park Recreation Centre in Squamish on June 20 at 9:30 a.m.

Meanwhile, the provincial government has just instituted new regulations meant to crack down on highway drivers who hog the left lane.

The new rules, effective June 12, mean that drivers spotted in the left lane when they should not be, will now be fined $167 — up from $109 previously — and given three penalty points.

"During the Rural Highway Safety and Speed Review last year, I heard that one of the top driver frustrations across the province was being prevented from passing because someone won't leave the left lane," explained B.C. transportation minister Todd Stone in a release. "We have strengthened the law to give police better tools to crack-down on left-lane hogs."

The move means drivers on multi-lane highways with a speed limit higher than 80km/h must stay to the right unless they are overtaking and passing another vehicle; moving left to allow traffic to merge; preparing for a left-hand turn; or moving left to pass an official vehicle displaying a flashing light.

Drivers can still use the left lane during periods of congested traffic when driving speeds dip to 50km/h or less.

On top of that, new laws will allow the Ministry of Transportation to define winter tires, studded tires and traction devices, such as chains, in regulation.