Minimum overtaking distance of cyclists rejected by Victorian Government
ABC News, 23 March 2017
The Victorian Government has rejected a recommendation to introduce a minimum passing distance for motorists overtaking cyclists, saying it will try a public education safety campaign first.
A parliamentary inquiry examined whether a one-metre distance should be introduced to increase the safety of Victorian cyclists.
The inquiry called for a one-and-a-half-metre gap between cyclists and other vehicles on higher speed roads, to provide a buffer and reduce the number of accidents.
South Australia, New South Wales, Tasmania, the ACT and Queensland have introduced, or are trialling, minimum passing distance laws.
The newly-elected Labor Government in Western Australia has also announced a trial.
But in Victoria, road users are only advised to keep a gap of at least a metre when overtaking cyclists.
In its response to the inquiry, the Victorian Government said it would introduce a year-long public education campaign to change attitudes to cyclists on the road, and only if that proved ineffective, would it trial a mandated minimum passing distance.
‘Disappointing’ response to safety call
Greens MP Samantha Dunn said the Government’s response was disappointing.
“What the Government [has] done is block legislation to protect some of the most vulnerable users on our roads, cyclists, by not agreeing to implement the metre matters laws,” she said.
The rest of the country are in the process of either trialling these laws or having these laws in place. Victoria is lagging.
The Government has argued the law would be difficult to enforce, while Victoria Police and the Transport Accidents Commission have also questioned its value.
Ms Dunn said education was part of the issue, but cyclists needed certainty about what was allowed.
“What we need to do is say to drivers out there, ‘you need to leave a one-metre minimum and that’s the law’,” she said.
Road cycling safety organisation the Amy Gillett Foundation has campaigned for a metre minimum distance since 2009.
Foundation chief executive Phoebe Dunn told ABC Melbourne laws were needed to legitimise cyclists’ use of the roads.
“They believe an education campaign is enough … but it’s advisory only, it’s not a law,” she said.
“All the evidence before the inquiry indicated you need legislation, education and enforcement.”
Ms Dunn said consistent rules were needed across the board to promote cyclist safety nationwide.
“It’s like a virtual bike lane on every street in the country,” she said.
Roads Minister Luke Donnellan said all motorists, cyclists and pedestrians needed to share road space better.
“That’s why we will run a 12-month community education campaign,” he said.