New cycling rules to be trialled from November

Released 21/09/2015

Minister for Justice, Shane Rattenbury, has announced that, from the 1st of November motorists will be required to provide a minimum distance when overtaking bicycles as part of a trial of new road safety laws in the ACT.

“A Legislative Assembly inquiry into vulnerable road users last year identified a range of measures that could be introduced in the ACT to improve safety for cyclists and other road users,” said Mr Rattenbury.

“One recommendation was the introduction of a minimum overtaking law (also known as the ‘metre matters’ rule) that requires motorists to provide a minimum distance of 1 metre when overtaking a cyclist in speed zones at or below 60km/h and 1.5 metres in speed zones above 60km/h

“The ACT will commence a two year trial of the metre matters rule commencing on the 1st of November.

“When driving a motor vehicle, 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.

“The Amy Gillett Foundation has campaigned nationally for the introduction of the overtaking distance and has been supported in the ACT by local advocacy group Pedal Power ACT. Some success has been achieved in QLD where the laws have been introduced and SA, where they will be introduced soon.

Amy Gillett Foundation interim chief executive officer Belinda Clark said the trial will make bike riding safer in the ACT.

“Amending the road rules to mandate a minimum overtaking distance will help reduce crashes between motor vehicles and bike riders by changing behaviour,” Ms Clark said.

“A metre matters because it provides a practical measurement for drivers when overtaking bike riders. As Australia’s leading bike safety organisation, our mission is to achieve zero bike fatalities in Australia and this move will make a difference in achieving that goal.

“This trial is about sharing the road safely together. A metre matters on all roads in the ACT, regardless of whether there are bicycle lanes or not.

“The ACT has joined Queensland as a leader in cycling safety, strengthening its position as a bicycle friendly city, and we congratulate the ACT government for implementing the new road safety laws. We look forward to a successful trial so that the amended road rules stay in place after the trial ends in November 2017,” Ms Clark said.

“To enable drivers to provide the minimum overtaking distances on narrow roads or roads with narrow lanes, motorists will be 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,” said Mr Rattenbury.

“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,” Mr Rattenbury said.

The overtaking law will be accompanied by new laws that allow riders to remain on their bicycles when crossing at pedestrian crossings.

Cyclists must ride slowly across pedestrian crossings under the conditions of the trial and must also keep to the left of the crossing and give way to any pedestrians.

“One of the more important aspects of this pedestrian crossing trial is for cyclists to slow to 10km/h on the approach to the crossing, check for any approaching traffic and be prepared to stop,” Mr Rattenbury said.

“This is to allow motorists to see and respond to the cyclist before they make the crossing.

“An awareness campaign will commence in mid-October to educate road users about these changes and ensure everyone understands the new rules,” said Mr Rattenbury.

- Statement ends -

Section: Shane Rattenbury, MLA | Media Releases

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