How much space should passing Drivers give Cyclists?

Across Australia, many states and territories have introduced or are trialling minimum distances when passing a bike rider.

In Victoria, there is no minimum passing distance. After a parliamentary inquiry on the issue, the Victorian Government decided not to adopt legislation straight away, but instead to have a 12-month campaign to change motorists’ behaviours towards cyclists.

Did you know we have roadside assistance for bicycles?

TAC has launched a TV advertisement, ‘Drivers, give the space to ride safe’, to remind drivers to leave space when passing a bicycle. RACV supports the campaign to educate drivers about what is a safe passing distance.

Currently the rules require a driver overtaking another driver or the rider of a motorbike or bicycle to leave “sufficient distance” and overtake only when safe to do so. A specific distance isn’t defined.

Car passing cyclist rule diagram

What is a sufficient distance to leave when overtaking a bike rider?

When overtaking a bicycle rider, drivers are advised to leave one metre to ensure they are overtaking safely.

At speeds above 60km/h, the distance should be increased to 1.5 metres.

For those still working on the imperial system 1 metre is about 3.3 feet, and 1.5 metres is 4.9 feet.

This distance is from the widest point of the vehicle (such as the passenger mirror) to the widest point of the bicycle and rider (typically the edge of the handlebars).

Leaving sufficient passing space may mean drivers need to change lanes, or slow down and wait until it is safe to pass.

RACV does not support mandating a minimum passing distance, but supports an ongoing mass media and online campaign to educate riders and drivers about sharing the road safely. The launch of today’s ad by TAC is the start of this, and we will continue to campaign for an ongoing campaign ensuring all road users are educated about safe behaviours and their obligations under the road rules.


RACV supports bicycle riding by:

Written by RACV
November 06, 2017

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