Drivers are now legally obliged to steer clear of bicycles when passing.

Changes to Quebec's Highway Safety Code came into effect on July 1 that set out provisions for when and where it is safe to pass a cyclist.

The law's preferred option is for drivers to change lanes, including making it legal to cross a solid line to do so.

If there is no other lane, drivers are required to give bicyclists 1.5 metres of space when passing on roads where the speed limit is more than 50 km/h.

On roads where the speed limit is 50 km/h or less, drivers must give cyclists a one-metre berth.

In all cases drivers are required to slow down to a safe speed.

The penalties for injuring a cyclist have also increased with those who open a door in front of a bicyclist. Both instances come with a fine of between $200 and $300, up from $30.

The tricky part will be enforcing those rules.

“Ten or 20 years ago it would have been very difficult, but nowadays with the technology to measures, there is equipment that can help police officers measure the distance between vehicles and bicycles,” said Marc Jolicoeur of Velo-Quebec, a driving force behind the new law.

A pilot project in Ottawa involved officers using a new high-tech sonar device to measure the distance between themselves and vehicles.

Montreal police spokesperson Andre Durocher said, however, there are no plans to bring that technology to Montreal.

“If a ticket is given, who's to know who went closer to the other? For example, the cyclist is going and trying to avoid a pothole. It has to avoid it and swerve and gets closer to the car. Who's going to get the ticket?” he said.

Durocher’s advice is to stay at least an arm’s length away, and be aware of the new regulations.

Last year, police handed out only six tickets for being too close, and 85 tickets for dooring, which is easier to prove.