Frequently Asked Questions

What does the One-Metre Rule mean?

The One-Metre Rule is one rule included in new legislation that is designed to encourge safe sharing of Nova Scotia highways by al road users. It means that drivers are required to leave one metre of open space between their vehicle and the cyclist when driving beside, or passing a cyclist. Even if the bicyclist is riding on the edge of the bicycle lane next to the traffic lane the One-Metre Rule applies.

Most of us already leave some space; however, the new law clarifies a safe passing distance when driving.

What does the new Bill 93 legislation mean to cyclists and drivers?

Bill 93 legislation is designed to encourage safe sharing of the road by cyclists and drivers. It includes requirements for both cyclists and drivers.

Bill 93 requires drivers to:

  • Leave at least one metre (three feet) of space when passing a cyclist.
  • Cross a yellow line if necessary to pass a cyclist if it is safe to do so. They must pass only if there is no oncoming traffic or wait if it is not safe to pass.
  • Avoid driving or parking in bike lanes, unless avoiding a hazard, a left-turning car, or under instruction by a police officer.

Bill 93 requires cyclists to:

  • Ride single file except when passing another cyclist.
  • Ride on the right side of the road. They may move to the left of a lane when riding through a roundabout, turning left, or avoiding obstacles.
  • Use designated bike lanes where they are present and free of obstructions.

What are the penalties for failing to comply with Bill 93?

There are a variety of penalties depending on which section is at issue.

The penalties associated with not leaving 1-metre of space are Category D offence (including court costs):
1st offence $282.71
2nd offence $455.21
3rd offence $800.21

The penalties for parking in a bicycle lane are a Category A (including all court costs):
1st offence $138.96
2nd offence $167.71
3rd offence $225.21

The penalties for driving in a bicycle lane are a Category G (including all court costs):
1st offence $685.21
2nd offence $1260.21
3rd offence $2410.21

Can a driver cross a yellow line to pass a bicycle?

Drivers are allowed to cross a centre line to pass a bicycle, if the driver can do so safely. Only pass if there is no oncoming traffic.

What else should we know when driving?

Bicycle lanes are reserved for the use of cyclists. If you must drive in a bicycle lane to avoid an obstruction you must first yield to cyclists. Drivers are prohibited from parking in a bike lane. Motor vehicles may cross a bicycle lanes when necessary to make a turn or get to a parking space.

What are the rules that we must follow when cycling?

  • Ride in single file and in the same direction of the traffic.
  • Ride on the right side of the road, when it is safe to do so. If riding in a roundabout, use the centre of the lane.
  • Ride in bicycle lanes when available. However, if the bicycle lane is obstructed or unsafe (i.e. snowy or icy), you are permitted to ride on the right side of the roadway. You may also leave the lane if you need to turn left.

What are the penalties for cyclists if they do not ride single file, on the right side of the road, or in a bicycle lane?

The penalties are the same for each situation (including all court costs):
1st offence $138.96
2nd offence $167.71
3rd offence $225.21

Do any other jurisdictions have similar legislation?

Nova Scotia will be the first to have this type of legislation in Canada. However, there are many jurisdictions in the United States that have this type of legislation.

When do these laws come into effect?

The legislation comes into effect on June 1, 2011.

Do bicycles have the same right to use the roads as motor vehicles?

Yes. In Nova Scotia, bicycles are considered vehicles and have the same right to use the roads as any other vehicle. When cycling we are responsible for following the same rules as we do when driving.

I drive a commercial (large) vehicle. Does the same one-metre passing law apply to me?

Yes. The requirement of leaving at least one metre separation when passing a bicycle applies to all motor vehicles, including trucks and trailers.

What if a road is too narrow to allow one-metre without crossing the yellow line?

As in any passing manuever, whether passing a bicycle or any slow-moving vehicle, drivers on two-lane roads may need to use the oncoming lane in order to safely complete a pass. That's why Bill 93 allows a motor vehicle to cross a solid yellow line in order to pass a bicycle, if it is safe to do.

Does a driver still need to leave one metre if the cyclist is in a bike lane?

Yes. Driver must maintain one metre distance from a cyclist (not from the edge of the bike lane), even if the cyclist is in a bike lane.

How do you define "safe to do so" when passing a cyclists?

A 'safe' pass is one in which you can see far enough ahead to determine that you can move into the oncoming lane in order to pass the bicycle, without encountering an oncoming car. The distance needed depends on your speed, acceleration, and the speed of the bicycle. Never pass on a blind crest or around a corner.

Can a car be parked in a bike lane if there is no sign prohibiting parking?

No. Under the new laws, you may not park in bike lanes. However, the law does recognize there are situations, particularly at bus stops, where it is necessary to temporarily stop or stand in a bike lane as part of operations; for example transit buses. Vehicles may temporarily stand or stop in a bike lane while actively engaged in loading or unloading of goods or people. If you must stop in a bike lane to unload/load passengers or goods, you must yield to cyclists already in the bike lane prior to pulling over and stopping.

As a cyclist watch for commercial vehicles or buses that may be stopped in a bike lane. When this occurs, remember to wait and see if it is safe to pass on the left or wait until the vehicle leaves. If it is a bus, and it has a signal on to pull away from the curb, yield to the bus. If the bus is stopped and no signal is present, pass on the left to allow passengers to leave the bus.