New one-metre road rule a win for safety
A new road rule means drivers must allow a minimum distance when overtaking bikes.
Victorian motorists will be required to allow a minimum one-metre distance when passing a cyclist from Monday 26 April as the mandatory passing distance law comes into force.
The new law, which requires drivers to leave at least one metre when passing a cyclist in speed zones 60kmh or lower, and 1.5 metres when passing at speed limits over 60kmh, comes after campaigning by RACV, the Amy Gillett Foundation and other cycling safety bodies for Victoria to follow every other Australian state and territory and introduce mandatory passing distance rules.
RACV senior manager transport, planning and infrastructure, Peter Kartsidimas, has welcomed the introduction of the minimum passing law.
“Many Victorians have told us they want to ride more, but they want to feel safe to do so,” Peter says. “The introduction of this rule will go a long way to ensuring all road users, including cyclists, are kept safe.”
Under the updated rule, drivers and motorcyclists can briefly cross painted lines to give cyclists the space they need, but only when they have a clear view ahead and it’s safe to do so (see below for more detail).
The Department of Transport’s deputy secretary network planning, Robyn Seymour, says: “The message is clear – when you see a cyclist, slow down. If you have a clear view ahead, choose a safe gap in traffic to pass at a metre or more. It can make all the difference in everyone making it home.”
Transport Accident Commission (TAC) figures show that serious accidents involving cyclists are on the rise. Between 2016 and 2020, 52 cyclists were killed on Victorian roads and 24, or almost half those fatalities, involved vehicles travelling parallel to their bike. Around 15 per cent of all hospitalisation claims also involved parallel vehicles.
Two cyclists have been killed on Victorian roads so far this year, and last year 13 lost their lives, well up on the five-year average of 10 cyclist deaths annually.
Peter urges the Victorian government to continue its road-user education programs, and to encourage the uptake of bike riding for transport by prioritising suitable bike infrastructure such as the bike super-highways that were proposed by RACV and endorsed by Infrastructure Australia.
The TAC will conduct a public campaign to educate Victorians about the new road rule, including reminders such as, ‘if it’s not safe to pass, wait’, and ‘drivers, give the space to ride safe’.