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New South Wales introduces minimum passing distance law

Motorists in Australian state now face fines if they don't give cyclists sufficient room...

New South Wales has become the latest state in Australia to introduce a minimum passing distance law in a bid to cut the number of cyclists killed or injured on its roads.

New legislation passed today means that motorists will have to give cyclists at least 1 metre of space when overtaking them on roads with speed limits of up to 60 kilometres an hour, and 1.5 metres on roads with higher speed limits.

Drivers who fail to give sufficient space face fines of up to A$330 and lose two demerit points on their licence, reports 9 News.

Introduction of the new law follows a two-year trial which resulted in a 15 per cent reduction in cyclist casualties in collisions involving motor vehicles according to independent analysis conducted on behalf of the state government.

Some 81 per cent of cyclists responded favourably to the trial, as did 69 per cent of motorists and the initiative was hailed by the government as helping foster mutual respect between road users – something that has often been in short supply on the roads of New South Wales and other states in Australia.

Melinda Pavey, the state’s Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight, said: “Cycling is an increasingly popular mode of transport and recreational activity, and this rule will help ensure the safety of all road users.

Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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12 comments

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fukawitribe | 5 years ago
0 likes

Is the cycle lane (paint) on the bus lane ?

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oldmixte | 5 years ago
4 likes

Round our way Sglos council have widened the road for a new Bus lane and then they have painted a cycle lane on it. The lanes are too narrow even for cars, so when a car passes a bike it will be about a foot away from a cyclist's handlebars if the cyclist is in the middle of the cycle lane, so just about every car passing a bike would be classed by police as a close pass.

What idiots design a new road with such narrow lanes?

Answer South Glos council.

They had plenty of room to make the bike lane a proper width.

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burtthebike replied to oldmixte | 5 years ago
0 likes
OldMixte wrote:

Round our way Sglos council have widened the road for a new Bus lane and then they have painted a cycle lane on it. The lanes are too narrow even for cars, so when a car passes a bike it will be about a foot away from a cyclist's handlebars if the cyclist is in the middle of the cycle lane, so just about every car passing a bike would be classed by police as a close pass.

What idiots design a new road with such narrow lanes?

Answer South Glos council.

They had plenty of room to make the bike lane a proper width.

South Gloucestershire council motto: never knowingly competent.

Where exactly are you talking about?

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oldmixte replied to burtthebike | 5 years ago
0 likes
burtthebike wrote:
OldMixte wrote:

Round our way Sglos council have widened the road for a new Bus lane and then they have painted a cycle lane on it. The lanes are too narrow even for cars, so when a car passes a bike it will be about a foot away from a cyclist's handlebars if the cyclist is in the middle of the cycle lane, so just about every car passing a bike would be classed by police as a close pass.

What idiots design a new road with such narrow lanes?

Answer South Glos council.

They had plenty of room to make the bike lane a proper width.

South Gloucestershire council motto: never knowingly competent.

Where exactly are you talking about?

Bradley Stoke way from Aldi roundabout down to Library, you can see work in progress on Google maps aerial

 

Avatar
burtthebike replied to oldmixte | 5 years ago
0 likes
OldMixte wrote:
burtthebike wrote:
OldMixte wrote:

Round our way Sglos council have widened the road for a new Bus lane and then they have painted a cycle lane on it. The lanes are too narrow even for cars, so when a car passes a bike it will be about a foot away from a cyclist's handlebars if the cyclist is in the middle of the cycle lane, so just about every car passing a bike would be classed by police as a close pass.

What idiots design a new road with such narrow lanes?

Answer South Glos council.

They had plenty of room to make the bike lane a proper width.

South Gloucestershire council motto: never knowingly competent.

Where exactly are you talking about?

Bradley Stoke way from Aldi roundabout down to Library, you can see work in progress on Google maps aerial

Thanks, I'll take a look this afternoon.

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burtthebike | 5 years ago
3 likes

An interesting initiative and a welcome change from the normal cyclist-blaming Oz culture.  I can see that enforcement would not be easy for the police, but it could work in the UK.  As we know from the close pass series on this site, there are many cyclists with cameras, video from which can be used to prosecute drivers, and in many cases, this would be sufficient.

As an alternative, I'm sure it would be relatively  easy to install distance measuring equipment on a few bikes, and Dr Ian Walker has famously already done it, so a plain clothes cop would have no difficulty in providing proof. 

Even better would be a cheap, small, light device that cyclists could clip to the frame to measure distance and back up the video; any inventors/investors out there?  Better still, build it in to the next generation of cameras.

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The_Vermonter | 5 years ago
2 likes

This is a great first step. We have that here in North Carolina, USA but rarely is it ever enforced. In fact, a local sheriff nearly ran me off the road last summer. I sincerely hope NSW's police are more vigilant than those here. Police attitudes towards cyclists are poor in every place I've ever lived. They assume an adult on a bicycle is serving a driving ban.

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BehindTheBikesheds | 5 years ago
3 likes

without enforcement of a law it is futile, there was already a law for careless/dangerous driving, the actual prosecutions have gone down under the passing law, the rate of injuries has gone up, cycling numbers have gone down, vilification of cyclists has gone up even more, both in Australia and the UK. What, you think that the injury rates have gone down, nope, it's gone up, deaths haven't budged in a decade.

Now, tell me again why a new passing law would work without enforcement, just as careless and dangerous aren't and yet more focus on those doing the least harm, yeah that's why people like Charlie Alliston got 18months and murdered in the media and yet motorists who do far worse get off.

Stop thinking this solves anything when the actuality is it does fuck all unless as I said you actually enforce the law, laws which already exist in any case.

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I love my bike replied to BehindTheBikesheds | 5 years ago
1 like
BehindTheBikesheds wrote:

without enforcement of a law it is futile, there was already a law for careless/dangerous driving, the actual prosecutions have gone down under the passing law, the rate of injuries has gone up, cycling numbers have gone down, vilification of cyclists has gone up even more, both in Australia and the UK. What, you think that the injury rates have gone down, nope, it's gone up, deaths haven't budged in a decade.

Now, tell me again why a new passing law would work without enforcement, just as careless and dangerous aren't and yet more focus on those doing the least harm, yeah that's why people like Charlie Alliston got 18months and murdered in the media and yet motorists who do far worse get off.

Stop thinking this solves anything when the actuality is it does fuck all unless as I said you actually enforce the law, laws which already exist in any case.

It's obviously quite simple to check helmet use & existance of a bicycle bell - hence easy to enforce, whether or not they are sensible requirements.

The minimum passing distance law needs technology to enforce, which makes it much harder - even if the will was/is there.

Unfortunately, it seems that the Highhway Code is not seen as the benchmark for acceptable road behaviour, when judjing Dangerous/careless driving.

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Yorkshire wallet | 5 years ago
2 likes

//resources3.news.com.au/images/2010/02/04/1225826/890407-retired-supt-john-watson.jpg)

 

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BehindTheBikesheds | 5 years ago
4 likes

Pony, as elsewhere the chances of plod handing out fines is slightly above zero, in exchange for these new 'protective' laws the fines handed out for non helmet wearing, no bell etc are the same as speeding and threatening a person on a bike by passing too close (in the case of a no helmet fine). Guess which fines are handed out the most by police, yup, that's right cyclist infractions where there are no victims such as no bell, no ID, no helmet.

See the article here that states not only was there $2M in fines of cyclists mostly for the no victim 'crimes' but also cycling numbers have gone down not up as the NSW authorities state so is a lie! “In 2015, 16.7% of people in NSW rode bikes regularly, that has now dropped to only 12.5% in 2017 – the lowest in the country according to the Australian Bicycle Council’s National Cycling Participation Survey."  http://www.bicyclingaustralia.com.au/news/your-say-cycling-participation... which coincidentally is a bigger drop than the drop in injury % so cycling has got less safe since the passing law and operation pedro was introduced. Same result as what happened when helmet laws were brought in, fewer injuries but a bigger reduction in paritcipation, all the whilst bucking the downward trend due to other interventions/

Meanwhile in the same trial period 17 drivers were fined for close pass in 2016/17 and 10, yes TEN in the year of 2015/16, the policing of this is total bullshit and plod are as bent as the state government clearly people doing no harm are the target and those that kill and maim get a free pass, nothing changes!

NSW is the worst state in the world for anti cycling and this fools no-one,

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Exup replied to BehindTheBikesheds | 5 years ago
4 likes
BehindTheBikesheds wrote:

Meanwhile in the same trial period 17 drivers were fined for close pass in 2016/17 and 10, yes TEN in the year of 2015/16, the policing of this is total bullshit and plod are as bent as the state government clearly people doing no harm are the target and those that kill and maim get a free pass, nothing changes!

NSW is the worst state in the world for anti cycling and this fools no-one,

 

Personally, I would prefer to have legislation in place that enables drivers to be prosecuted than none at all. The fact that the cops don't do a good job is another issue.

 

If the UK had laws in place, then it would be a damn good start. Providing evidence in the form of on bike video footage would make it easy to convict bad drivers. Today close passes have to be tackled under some arguable ''other" law such as 'not driving with due care and attention' or 'dangerous driving'.

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