Tasmania has the right idea with strong positive messaging on buses. But what is happening around the country.
The advocates for mandatory safe-passing distances are beginning to have a positive effect on the State Governments of Australia.
Motorists must be a minimum lateral distance of:
- 1.0 m when passing a bicycle rider in a 60km/h or less speed zone; or
- 1.5 m where the speed limit is over 60km/h.
Passing a bicycle rider means that a driver and the bicycle rider are travelling in the same direction. This includes when a driver is travelling side-by-side in separate lanes on a multi-lane road. It does not apply if you are travelling in opposite directions, or when you are on the other side of the road to a bicycle rider.
The minimum passing distance applies even if the bicycle rider is riding around an obstacle. These road rules apply to all motor vehicles including cars, motorcycles, heavy vehicles and public transport vehicles.
Today, the rule stating that the safe passing distance has been legislated in Queensland, South Australia and very recently Tasmania.
Currently Victoria (November 2016), New South Wales (March 2016) and the ACT (November 2015) are still under review and trials, with a Victorian Parliamentary Committee in late 2016 announcing a recommendation to introduce the rule into legislation.
Western Australia and Northern Territory have provided only guidelines on their cycling rules including the safe passing rule.
The Amy Gillett Foundation has been most aggressive in campaigning for these changes, along with many safety-centric bodies in Australia. Launched in 2009, The Amy Gillett Foundation’s “a metre matters” campaign, is simply about drivers not hitting cyclists. Their campaign hit the mark very early with significant marketing and advertising using the well-identified ‘a metre matters logo’.
To see how active the Foundation is, and what they have achieved, please read the article from the CEO, Phoebe Dunn.
The Amy Gillett foundation continues to campaign heavily, and actively promotes their drive through the cycling community as a means of providing greater exposure and continued pressure on the Stage Governments.
In Victoria, during 2016, there were two interesting trials of technology that would enable the Govt to evaluate the metre matters recommendation.
The BikeSpot Crowdsourcing campaign was built to explore the differences in the perceived and real risks of riding a bike in Melbourne. More than 8.,000 submissions were made in a 2.5 month period of 2016, providing valuable information to the Victorian Government. Here. BikeSpot Study
The PassBox study actively promoted by the Melbourne Bicycle User Group is a road safety study that will measure how close cars get to your bicycle. They are still looking for volunteers to have the PassBox installed on their bikes to take part in a one-week trial. Here. Passbox Study
In the USA, a device called the C3FT, has an ultrasonic sensor mounted on the bicycle’s handlebars to calculate how near the vehicle came to the bike. Use of the device was pioneered a year ago by police in Chattanooga, Tennessee, a city that has a three-foot buffer law when drivers overtake cyclists – similar to the metre passing measures now found in half of Australia’s states and territories. The device
Full details of the rules applying to each State can be seen here
and further links to each of the States Websites.