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:

  • Encouraging all road users to share the road safely and respect each other including reminding drivers and riders of the road rules.
  • Advocating for safer bicycle riding infrastructure and treatments.
  • Supporting safer on-road cycling corridors along key routes such as Sydney Road.
  • Identifying missing links in the cycling network.
  • Promoting the social, health, environmental and economic benefits of bike riding.
  • Providing road and bicycle-riding safety education programs for schoolchildren through RACV Street Scene.
  • Funding research into riding-related issues, including our latest market research results.
  • Sponsoring organised riding events including the RACV Great VIC bike ride.
  • Providing roadside assistance and emergency transport for riders through RACV Bike Assist.
  • Offering a low-cost, pay-by-the-month plan to enable people to afford new electric bikes through RACV eBike.
  • Providing RACV’s Mobility Hub at the City Club with secure bicycle storage and change rooms for RACV Club members, building tenants and RACV employees.
  • Operating the Melbourne Bike Share program, the perfect way to make short trips in the city.
Written by RACV
November 06, 2017