Tracking ACT’s minimum passing rule around cyclists

Shane Rattenbury, MLA

Cyclists in Canberra are participating in a new road safety research project to evaluate driver compliance with the minimum passing rule.

Minister for Road Safety Shane Rattenbury today inspected the fitting of passing distance measuring devices to bicycles which will collect data over the next four weeks as part of the Centre for Automotive Safety Research (CASR) study.

The research, funded by a $58,000 ACT Road Safety Fund grant, will also consider how traffic environments and the road network changes a motorist’s compliance.

“The device is designed to be attached to a cyclist’s personal bicycle and collect data while they ride their usual routes,” Mr Rattenbury said.

“We know that many motorists are conscious about passing safely around cyclists; however, there are still those that don’t leave enough room. We need to have more information to help change driver behaviour and consideration for cyclists and this study will help.

“When driving a car, we need to remember that we are in control of around 1,200 to 2,000 kilograms of metal, travelling at more than 12 metres a second when driving at 50km/h – which can kill in an instant.

“On the road, cyclists are particularly vulnerable because they are smaller and have less crash protection than motorists. 

“It is important that we continue to make it easier, safer and more convenient for people to choose cycling as their preferred method of transport.”

In the ACT, drivers are required to keep a minimum passing distance of 1 metre when overtaking a cyclist at under 60km/h, with a distance of 1.5 metres required if a driver is overtaking at more than 60km/h.

“To enable drivers to provide the minimum overtaking distances on narrow roads or roads with narrow lanes, drivers are allowed to cross centre lines, straddle lane-lines and drive on painted islands, provided the driver has a clear view of any approaching traffic and that it is safe to do so,” Mr Rattenbury said.

“On busy roads and narrow roads, cyclists can help motorists out by riding to the left of the road or bicycle lane, and riding single file.”

Dr Jamie Mackenzie from the Centre for Automotive Safety Research (CASR) said minimum passing distance was an important safety rule for cyclists.

"The implementation of a metre passing rule acknowledges that cyclists are vulnerable road users and require a minimum amount of 'safe space’ when being passed by motor vehicles,” Dr Mackenzie said.

“This is particularly important for cyclists, as they have no protective structure surrounding them or any safety technologies to assist them, unlike cars that contain a suite of safety features for their occupants.

“The purpose of this project is to evaluate motorist compliance with the ACT’s metre passing rule and to determine whether it is possible to identify particular features or infrastructure in the road network that have an effect on compliance.”

The report for this project is expected to be finalised in December 2018.