RACV urges minimum passing distance trial for cyclists

Moving Well | Words: RACV | Photos: Matt Harvey | Posted on 22 January 2020

RACV calls on government to trial minimum passing rule to protect cyclists.

RACV is calling on the Victorian government to undertake a trial of a minimum passing-distance rule for motorists when overtaking cyclists to reduce an increasing number of bike rider deaths and injuries on Victorian roads.

Official Transport Accident Commission (TAC) figures show 47 cyclists died and more than 2100 were injured on Victorian roads in the five years between 2015 and 2019. 

The proposed trial would legally require motorists to leave at least one metre between themselves and cyclists when overtaking on roads with speed limits of less than 60kmh, and 1.5 metres when overtaking on roads with speeds over 60kmh, reflecting similar legislation in other states.

Man cycling through Melbourne CBD

RACV senior manager of transport, planning and infrastructure, Peter Kartsidimas, says Victoria is lagging behind the rest of the country when it comes to minimum passing-distance rules. 

“Since the Safety Road Rules 2009 (Overtaking Bicycles) Bill 2015 was first tabled in the Victorian Parliament, every other Australian state and territory has passed legislation for a minimum passing-distance rule,” he says. 

“TAC figures show that cyclist death and injury are only increasing. The government needs to do more and that’s why we are calling for a trial of a minimum passing-distance rule for motorists when overtaking cyclists.” 

While other states were either trialling or legislating a minimum passing-distance rule, Victoria launched the Share the Road education and awareness campaign in 2017. The results of the campaign are detailed in a confidential TAC report yet to be released to the public. 

“In March 2017, the government agreed to trial minimum passing if the community education campaign was ineffective in achieving safety benefits for cyclists,” says Peter. “As well as a trial, RACV is also calling on the government to release the findings of the report, which should indicate whether the campaign was successful or not in changing driver behaviour. 

“RACV would welcome the opportunity to work with government to establish a trial which considers some of the unique issues on Victorian roads.” 

Meanwhile, published data from New South Wales’ ‘Trial of the Minimum Passing Distance Rule for drivers passing cyclists’ showed: 

  • Cyclist safety was improved.
  • While driver response to the trial was mixed it was generally positive. 
  • No clear evidence of any negative unintended outcomes of the trial, despite initial concerns from police and some participants.
  • Widespread support for retaining the rule.

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