Pro-forma ‘A Metre Matters’ letter

Advocacy 0 19


Please send a pro-forma letter based on the text below to your local Members of the Legislative Assembly

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Dear Member of Legislative Assembly;

Protection for 4 million Australians

Call for legislation of 1 metre minimum when overtaking bicycle riders

In 2011, 4 million people rode a bicycle in Australia, almost 20% of Australians. The government is committed to doubling the number of people cycling by 2016 – which is great for health, leisure, the environment, congestion and community wellbeing.

But with 35 bicycle riders killed and 9,577 injured in the same year – the human trauma costs of cycling in Australia are unacceptable.  Australian Road Rules are failing bicycle riders.

Distance when overtaking bicycle riders

At present every other state transport authority (excluding Queensland) ‘recommends’ drivers leave at least one metre when overtaking bike riders. This communication is clear and easily understood.

However, even where this present, there is no active or prolonged encouragement for this recommended behaviour. At the same time transport authorities support that the road rules are designed to prescribe and enable enforcement of required safe behaviour.

Consequently translating what is already recommended driver behaviour into legislation is a logical and practical step to changing behaviour.

The existing Australian Road Rules including Rule 144, do not protect bicycle riders when being overtaken by drivers. Drivers are permitted to make judgement calls regarding a ‘sufficient distance to avoid a collision’.

ARR 144—Keeping a safe distance when overtaking

A driver overtaking a vehicle:

(a) must pass the vehicle at a sufficient distance to avoid a collision with the vehicle or obstructing the path of the vehicle; and

(b) must not return to the marked lane or line of traffic where the vehicle is travelling until the driver is a sufficient distance past the vehicle to avoid a collision with the vehicle or obstructing the path of the vehicle.

Bill to introduce a minimum overtaking distance of 1 Metre

As a Member of the Legislative Assembly, I call on you to lead the introduction of a Bill into the Legislative Assembly for the amendment of the Road Rules and to lobby for the Australian Road Rules to be updated to set an improved national model. The amendment must introduce a regulation requiring a minimum of 1 metre when a motor vehicle overtakes a bicycle rider.

A minimum overtaking distance of 1 metre provides absolute and practical clarity. It:

  • Recognises bicycle riders are physically vulnerable and need the protection of space
  • Provides drivers with a clear, easily recognised measure when overtaking bicycle riders – otherwise they must slow down and wait
  • Reduces the risk of bicycle rider-driver crashes, and bicycle rider crashes resulting from being side-swiped (but not hit) by motor vehicles
  • Is enforceable; it allows a law enforcement officer or witness to readily observe a driver’s actions
  • Would give consideration for a graded approach for higher speeds and very low speeds, though standardised legislation is more readily understood
  • Will improve safety for bicycle riders
  • Acknowledges bicycle riders are legitimate road users
  • Will ultimately reduce bicycle rider fatalities and serious injuries.

This law already exists in countries in Europe and in 27 states in the US. The law is practical, enforceable, will reduce serious injuries and will save bicycle riders’ lives.

Everyone has the right to ride safely for work and play.

Yours sincerely


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