New road rules for passing cyclists

Drivers, and there are many out there who still believe that the roads should be for motor vehicles exclusively, will not be happy with new laws soon to be introduced by the State Government.

Those drivers who travel too close to cyclists will be fined $330 and lose two demerit points under new laws being introduced by the State.

The laws mean drivers who pass cyclists must leave a distance of at least one metre when the speed limit is 60 kilometres per hour or lower. When the speed limit is above 60kph, they must leave a 1.5m gap.

Roads Minister Melinda Pavey said a two-year trial of the laws was a success and showed a 15 percent reduction in bicycle to vehicle crashes.

Ms Pavey said thousands of people were surveyed and ‘common sense’ motorists supported the rule.

“No rule and no law is going to be supported by 100 percent of people 100 percent of the time. But I think we’ve got the balance right, I think we’ve struck it at common sense,” she said.

Cycling Australia chief executive Steve Drake said “anything that helps keep vulnerable road users safe is a good thing and the minimum passing laws is definitely one of those”.

“It isn’t uncommon for riders to be clipped by side mirrors and if you’re a metre away from a rider that’s much harder,” he said.

“When car drivers are driving very quickly, so 100kph or something, they’re pushing a fair bit of wind with them and that can have an impact on a rider if they’re passed too close as well.”

There are also some exemptions to road rules to allow drivers to comply with the minimum passing distance rule. Soon, drivers will be able to:

  • Cross solid white lines in order to pass cyclists safely
  • Drive over flat ‘painted islands’
  • Stray into other lanes when safe to do so

Moves to introduce road rule exemptions attracted some controversy in other states, with concerns raised about the possibility of more head-on collisions.

But Mr Drake said it was common sense.

“If you can’t pass the cyclist safely and you can’t pass the centre line safely then that says to me that you shouldn’t be passing at that point,” he said.

“I’ve found in my life that it’s usually the case that you can afford to wait 30 seconds to pass somebody.

“I’m sure if you didn’t wait 30 seconds and there’s an accident to yourself or to a cyclist you might regret it and wish you had waited that 30 seconds.”