Montreal bicycle cops are now equipped with a special device to automatically measure how close drivers get when they pass.

The handlebar-mounted-device, called C3FT, measures the distance between bikes and passing vehicles.

Quebec's Highway Code says that when motor vehicles pass bicycles they have to be at least one metre away when the speed limit is 50 km/hour or less, and 1.5 m away in zones where the speed limit is over 50 km/hour.

The law's been in place for three years but police say many drivers still don't realize how close is too close.

Montreal police have been testing the devices for the past two months on the West Island.

The C3FT shoots out ultrasonic waves to detect the distance of passing cars and when it detects a vehicle moving with less than one-metre clearance, it flashes and sends out a buzzing sound.

Const. Olivier Archambault said police have been using the devices, then intercepting drivers that pass too close to cyclists to show them the minimum legal limit.

He said Montreal police will soon ticket people instead of delivering warnings, because even on narrow streets, drivers are obliged to keep their distance from cyclists.

"That is the obligation for the driver of a vehicle on the road, when they are going to pass a cyclist to make sure they have room, to give a one-metre space to the cyclist," said Const. Olivier Archambault. "If there is no space, or a car coming the other way, you need to wait for the vehicle to pass to make sure to do the maneuver safely."

Police in Grand Rapids, Michigan they have been using the devices, although the legal safe passing distance there is slightly more than 1.5 m.

Last year bicycle-car collisions were at a ten-year low and one long-time cyclist said he's never felt safer.

Montreal's police bike patrol has four of the devices but police can still give out tickets for infractions without them.

The fine for not respecting the safe legal distance is $200 plus fees, which means a fine would total $313 plus two demerit points.