Manitoba Public Insurance wants motorists to stay a safe distance away from cyclists when passing on the roads.

MPI is asking motorists to leave at least one metre of space.

MPI recently launched a new cycling safety campaign called “Please Leave Space to Breath,” aimed at educating both motorists and cyclists. There is an average of 180 bicycle-vehicle collisions on public roads in Manitoba each year, according to MPI Vice-President and CAO Ward Keith.

“Cyclists who are operating on our roadways have the same rights and the same responsibilities as motorists when they’re on the road together,” said Keith at a news conference Friday. “And what that means is we all have an obligation to keep each other safe.”

MPI said the one-metre separation should benefit younger cyclists who are still getting comfortable on the roads.

“When we’re trying to encourage people to ride their bicycles, they’re going to startle easily if they’re not confident cyclists,” said Dave Elmore, the project manager for Bike Week Winnipeg. “And when you drive past a cyclist and you’re too close, the chances of startling them, and potentially even causing them to lose control of their bike, there’s always a risk there.”

MPI advises motorists to take extra caution at intersections and watch for cyclists when making right or left turns, and to scan the sidewalks in both directions for cyclists when entering or exiting roadways and intersections.

They advise cyclists to never pass stopped vehicles in the same lane, wear reflecting clothing, and to use hand signals so that motorists recognize where they want to go.