A new public information film from Tasmania has an innovative way of getting across its message about what constitutes a safe passing distances when overtaking a cyclist. After first depicting a series of everyday scenes in which people find themselves within someone else’s personal space, it then demonstrates how far away a driver should be when passing someone on a bike.
Tasmania has had a minimum safe passing distance since February. A safe space is considered to be one metre between the motorist and the cyclist on roads up to and including 60km/h, and 1.5 metres on roads above 60 km/h. Drivers are allowed to cross a centre line to pass a cyclist when it’s safe to do so.
The UK doesn’t currently have a minimum passing distance law. The Highway Code says only: “give motorcyclists, cyclists and horse riders at least as much room as you would when overtaking a car” without stipulating what that distance should be.
In Europe there are minimum passing distances in a number of countries. In France the rule is that motorists need to give cyclists a minimum of 1m in towns and 1.5 on other roads. Germany and Spain also go for 1.5m.
A three-foot rule has been introduced in many US states. The difficulty of enforcing this has led to the development of a handlebar-mounted ultrasonic detector which is now being employed by the Chattanooga Police Department in Tennessee.
BikeBiz editor, Carlton Reid, recently produced a video in which Chris Boardman explained how to safely overtake a cyclist. The video, also featuring cycling club Exeter Wheelers and master driving instructor Blaine Walsh, demonstrates how much room a cyclist or group of riders need, and why they might need it.