Will these bizarre new bicycle laws improve your road safety – or hinder it?

New South Wales is set to overhaul its bike laws from March 1st, with other state governments likely to follow
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New South Wales is set to overhaul its bike laws from March 1st, with other state governments likely to follow suit. Will these latest changes actually improve safety on our roads though?

Next month, drivers in New South Wales will be required to give at least 1 meter of space when passing a cyclist at speeds up to 60km/ hr.

When passing cyclists at speeds over 60km/ hr, drivers will be required to give 1.5 meters of space. Similar measures are already in place throughout Queensland, South Australia and the ACT.

In an even more bizarre change, drivers are now allowed to cross the road’s centre lines to overtake a cyclist. This even means drivers can go over painted traffic islands!

The NSW Department of Transport has denied ‘driving on the wrong side’ could lead to head-on crashes. “The minimum passing distance is specifically because cyclists are vulnerable”, it stated.

Very helpfully, the Department has also advised cyclists to “leave sufficient room to avoid a collision”.

Drivers found breaching these new laws can face a $319 fine, along with a penalty of 2 demerit points. In contrast, the general traffic fine for cyclists is only $106.

However, not everybody is convinced that this new “1 to 1.5 meter” rule will actually improve road safety. As one person commented online:

“So I am driving along and am able to pass a cyclist with the one metre space, but the cyclist then wobbles towards me. To avoid a pothole, debris on the road, because he is not paying attention…”

“Am I then at fault ? He has no legal responsibility to maintain the one metre passing distance. What a totally impractical, unworkable law!”

What’s your take? Will these bike laws improve safety on our roads? Or are they impractical, and even dangerous?

  1. Gail Pausey  

    I regularly travel through Galston Gorge which is a road link between Galston and Hornsby. The road stretches for a few kilometres and both on the Hornsby and Galston sides, it is exceptionally steep, narrow and windy. When the cyclists are climbing the hill (whichever direction) they are very slow, sometimes at walking pace. When they are descending they travel with speed. Almost all of the road is unsafe for passing, so something as vulnerable as a push bike make it dangerous for everyone. In enforcing these new laws allowing the distance from the cyclist to 1 metre for overtaking , all motorised and pedal power travellers are at risk. It is my opinion that cyclists should be excluded from this road and other roads meeting the same description. That would keep both cyclists and drivers safe.

    • Having traveled The Gorge many times I am with you on this one Gail Pausey. The Galston Gorge and The Macquarie Pass are about equal in the danger stakes.

  2. Will such heavy handed driver rules and fines also apply to the police, ambulance and emergency services? To be enforced to sit behind a cyclist doing 10-20 k/ph because you can’t overtake him with the 1 or 1.5 meter rule is most unreasonable!

  3. As we live in rural NE Victoria we encounter cyclist regularly on the roads around area so we are a custom to them and drive accordingly. It is good to see these laws coming into force , I do not like cyclist on the roads in our area but they have as much rite (right) to use the roads as we do. There are plenty of idiots on the road be they car drivers or cyclists, but to travel on the roads in Australia to-day it is more a matter survival and all it take to get to your destination is a bit of commonsense.

  4. But it’s ok for them to wiz past you a lot closer than 1 meter when you are taking off at lights.

  5. lurch  

    No mention of the idiots who open doors with looking, have been knock off my bike by a passing motor vehicle, one hand grip hit a post while the car hit the other, when reported to the police I was told why didnt you move over or get off your bike. I repeated that I was next to the post and it hit me, I will not repeat what was said or the threat about obstructing motor vehicles on a busy Highway ( country road, two lanes and poorly maintained edges, go figure country cops)

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