Montreal police say they'll be somewhat more lenient in interpreting the rules of the road for cyclists this season, in an effort to improve the sometimes tense relations between police and cyclists.
The force has announced it will relax its application of three different types of Highway Safety Code infractions.
For instance, cyclists can wear at least one earphone — provided it's part of a hands-free phone.
"A cyclist could be riding and holding a cellphone, talking on the phone, and they're not committing an infraction," says Cmdr. André Durocher, the force's point man on traffic safety. "If they're doing the same thing, but listening to music, they would be committing an infraction."
One in three collisions are caused by inattention, and very often, it's because people use both headphones to play music.
Cyclists also won't have to place at least one foot down on the ground when they come to an intersection or a stop, and the force will also be more lenient with those nighttime cyclists who don't have a white light on the front of their bikes, a red light on the back, and adequate reflectors. Instead of handing out tickets, bike patrols intend on handing out lights to cyclists.
Cmdr. Durocher says they'll apply common sense when it comes to issuing fines for cyclists who flout the rules of the road, but the force will nonetheless pay attention to cyclists' more risky behaviors — particularly in the smartphone age.
"I find it hard to conceive that you have to convince people, particularly cyclists, because they're vulnerable on the road compared to vehicles...to say [they're] probably better off if you're aware of you're environment; not listening to music and texting on a bicycle."
Texting while on a bike, he says, happens more often than you might think. "At least once a day," Durocher says.