RACV has been working for some time to help make the roads safer for people who ride bicycles as part of our aim to improve mobility for all users whether they are riders, drivers or pedestrians. Our members, and indeed all Victorians for which we advocate, don’t just drive cars. They may drive to the park and ride, take a tram to the office and then ride for pleasure in the evening. More and more, Victorians are choosing to beat the traffic by commuting by bike.
As our population grows and pressure increases on our transportation network, it is more important than ever that the RACV advocate for all road users. As you may know, we operate Melbourne Bike Share serving Melburnians and visitors to Melbourne alike. We encourage members to ride and we support a variety of riding events across Victoria. We’ve also worked with VicRoads and major riding organisations in the past to develop the Sharing Roads and Paths brochure, which we distributed to thousands of RACV Drive School students. So when a government committee reviewed The Overtaking Bicycles Bill – a proposal that would require motorists to leave at least one metre of space between themselves and cyclists when overtaking, you can rest assured that the RACV had an opinion to share.
With more than two million members, the RACV has been a trusted and credible source of advice for more than a century. We pride ourselves on finding practical solutions that help make the lives of Victorians better whether it’s with our advice on new cars and being a safer driver or by providing tips to help homeowners avoid burglaries. It’s why we argued against the one-metre rule. We argued that Victoria Police did not have the means to judge and prove the distance, and for a driver to exactly judge the distance between a moving rider and their moving motor vehicle. If a road rule is not enforceable so as to prevent a crash and its tragic consequences, it’s not a practical solution.
This wasn’t our only concern, however. We were also concerned that the proposed law would merely transfer the safety risk from bicycle riders to other road users. A motorist crossing double lines to overtake a rider, puts them and oncoming road users at risk. The proposed legislation also meant that a motorist could not pass a rider when the vehicle was in a traffic lane and the rider in a bicycle lane if it meant that there would be less than a metre between the two.
Instead, we advocated for the government to invest in educating all road users about their responsibility to share the road. That’s why we welcomed their announcement that they will put off legislation and instead focus on educating road users. We support a strong message about keeping at least a metre separation as a guideline and we support penalising any road user that breaks the law and injures another road user. We also believe minimum lane widths for bicycle and traffic lanes should be mandated and enforced. The Government should also dramatically increase its investment in off-road and separated on-road bicycle infrastructure to provide safer environments for riding. When people riding bicycles can get where they are going safely, more people will enjoy riding and all road users will benefit.