Passing distance for cyclists now a law

Give me space: Werner Steyer is pleased that the state government trial that saw motorists keep their distance when passing a cyclist will now become law. Picture: Sylvia Liber
Give me space: Werner Steyer is pleased that the state government trial that saw motorists keep their distance when passing a cyclist will now become law. Picture: Sylvia Liber

A trial that forced motorists to leave space when passing cyclists will now become a permanent law.

For the last two years the NSW Government has been trialling the Minimum Passing Distance rule.

The rule meant drivers needed to leave at least a metre of space when overtaking a cyclist while travelling under 60km/h.

The minimum distance is 1.5 metres when travelling over 60km/h.

Breaking the rule will attract a $330 fine and two demerit points.

Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight Melinda Pavey said an independent evaluation of the trial estimated a 15 per cent reduction in bicycle to vehicle casualty crashes.

“Cycling is an increasingly popular mode of transport and recreational activity, and this rule will help ensure the safety of all road users,” Mrs Pavey said.

During the trial, 81 per cent of cyclists and 69 per cent of drivers supported the rule, Mrs Pavey said.

Chair of the Illawarra Bike Users Group Werner Steyer said making the rule permanent was a good idea and that he had noticed people giving him more space when cycling since the trial began.

“I think we’re slowly making inroads,” Mr Steyer said.

“A lot of people are getting the message.

“I think that the hardest part is the poor publicity around it, that it’s too often seen to be a threat rather than a benefit.

“When you read all of the ad stuff that comes out of the government it’s always, ‘give them a metre or a metre and a half otherwise we’re going to fine you’ rather that focusing on the benefits of the rule to actually improve everybody’s safety.”

He also said some motorists didn’t realise the rule allowed them to cross over double yellow lines to give cyclists enough space.

Mr Steyer said cyclists still needed to remember to show courtesy to motorists on the road as well.

”For me courtesy on the road is a two-way street,” he said.

“As cyclists we need to give people room to pass where possible and we need motorists to also pass us safely.

“In some locations there’s just no other option than to ride in traffic and hold up traffic until you get to a spot where you can let them pass.”

The rules about passing cyclists

How do I overtake a cyclist if there’s a double yellow line in the middle of the road?

If it is safe to pass the cyclist motorists are allowed to cross unbroken centre lines – whether a single or double line – without the risk of a fine.

How do I give cyclists enough space when they are riding two abreast and taking up a whole lane?

Riding in this fashion is legal under the road rules. In this instance motorists need to overtake as they would any other vehicles.

Do cyclists need to leave a metre of space when passing parked cars?

No, however cyclists are advised to leave space to avoid a collision should a driver open their car door.

Does the rule apply for shared pathways?

No, but Transport for NSW recommends cyclists leave a metre of space when passing pedestrians.

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