• John Jantak

SPVM adopts new device to measure distance between bicycles and vehicles


Station 1 bicycle police officer Olivier Archambault demonstrates a new C3FT™ sensor device that measures the distance between a passing car and cyclist during a public information campaign in Ste. Anne de Bellevue last Thursday morning, August 22.

$313 tickets will be issued to motorists who drive too close to cyclists

Motorists who drive too close to cyclists in several West Island municipalities under the jurisdiction of the Service de Police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM) Station 1, including Ste. Anne de Bellevue, will need to pay attention to the distance between their vehicles and bike riders, otherwise they could receive a hefty moving violation ticket.

Several SPVM officers were on hand to officially demonstrate the launch of their new electronic measuring device called the C3FT™ during a public information campaign in Ste. Anne’s last Thursday morning, August 22.

Measures distance between car and cyclist

The C3FT (see-three-feet) sensor unit is a bicycle-mounted electronic system designed for the purpose of detecting, capturing, and displaying the proximity of passing vehicles next to cyclists. It uses the same type of technology that is used for radar and laser detectors to measure speed, said SPVM Officer Olivier Archambault.

“It emits waves and when it hits something and comes back, it measures the distance between objects. This device is to ensure the safety of the cyclist,” Archambault told The Journal.

Motorists need to keep a mandatory distance of one metre when passing a cyclist in a zone where the speed limit is 50 kilometres or less. In areas where the speed limit is above 50, a distance of 1.5 metres is mandatory.

Fine plus demerit points

A driver caught disrespecting the safe driving distance between their moving vehicle and a cyclist will receive a ticket. The issuance of fines began August 28 following a two-month evaluation period of the devices and a public information campaign.

“The fine is $200 plus fees which comes out to $313. Two demerit points are also added onto the driver’s license. Under the provincial Highway Code, we have to take into consideration people who are more vulnerable. Cyclists are more vulnerable than people in cars and we have to make sure they stay safe and pedestrians as well,” said Archambault.

Public information blitz

Motorists who were pulled over for an infraction during the public information campaign received a verbal warning about their unsafe distance. They also received an explanation about the safe distance that must be maintained between a car and cyclist, said Archambault.

“We made them aware of what one metre is. When you’re driving and passing someone on the passenger side, it’s kind of hard to evaluate the distance because it’s on the opposite side. We made them see what one metre actually is. It opened up their eyes. People need to be more careful when passing next to cyclists,” said Archambault.


A motorist is pulled over by police for passing too close to a cyclist during the public information campaign.

Back to school safety blitz

Being a police officer on a bicycle doesn’t preclude Archambault from encountering motorists who drive too close to him. “I’ve been on a bike for five years now and even with my vest which has ‘POLICE’ written on the back, cars pass very close to me. It’s much closer for regular cyclists than that. One cyclist who gets hit is one too many,” Archambault said.

With children ready to go back to school, the SPVM will be conducting a safety blitz and issuing violation tickets in all the West Island municipalities under its jurisdiction including Baie-D'Urfé, Beaconsfield, Kirkland, and Senneville. The SPVM was able to purchase four C3FT devices thanks to a grant from the Société de l'assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ) in 2018.

Off-island rules

Sûreté du Québec (SQ) spokesperson Agent Aurélie Guindon said that though the provincial force has not acquired the C3FT tool for use, the same law exists for passing cyclists at a safe distance across Quebec. If SQ officers witness an infraction, a ticket will be issued to the motorist.

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