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!”