MELBOURNE, AAP – New rules will come into effect in Victoria next week requiring motorists to give cyclists a wide berth when passing them on roads.
From Monday, motorists must give riders at least one-metre clearance when overtaking on roads up to 60km/h, and 1.5 metres on roads with speed limits above 60km/h.
Victoria had previously been the only state without minimum passing distance laws.
Roads Minister Ben Carroll said 13 cyclists lost their lives on Victoria’s roads in 2020, an increase on the five-year average of 10 deaths.
“Last year was a horrible year on our road for cyclists. These measures will ensure everyone has a safe place on our roads,” he said in a statement on Friday.
“This new rule provides a clear direction on how much space motorists should give cyclists when passing. We all share the roads and need to look out for one another.”
Under the updated rules, drivers and motorcyclists can briefly cross painted lines to give cyclists the space they need – including solid lines, double lines, painted tram lane lines and painted islands – but only when they have a clear view ahead and it’s safe to do so.
Improper overtaking or passing offences will incur two demerit points and on the spot fines of $330. If the matter proceeds through court, the fine can increase to $1652.
Mr Carroll said cyclists will need to follow the road rules as well, including by riding predictably, riding in bike lanes when they are provided and using hand signals to change direction.
National cycling safety charity the Amy Gillett Foundation welcomed the new rules.
“A metre matters because it can save a person’s life, and these road rules will help our community avoid the terrible impact of road trauma,” the charity’s CEO Dan Kneipp said in a statement.
“Giving cyclists safe space when you drive helps everyone stay safe, and most importantly it makes cycling easier and more enjoyable for Victorians.”
Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Shane Patton said enforcing the new rules could be difficult, but added it was more about education than punishment.
“It’s about sending a message to everyone,” he told 3AW radio.
“We’ll be using discretion where appropriate and trying to educate drivers.”