ACT drivers are mostly compliant with the minimum passing rules when overtaking cyclists, according to the findings of a University of Adelaide study.
As part of the research, GPS-enabled devices were fitted on 23 bicycles, recording the distance between the bicycle and passing vehicles during August and September last year.
A total of 6,531 kilometres and 271 hours of riding was undertaken by the volunteer cyclists in the four-week period, and 16,476 passing events were detected of which 1,502 were found to be non-compliant.
The majority of non-compliant passing events – 1,349 – occurred on high speed roads where the required passing distance is 1.5m, however the report notes the majority of passes were still at distances greater than 1m.
ACT Minister for Road Safety Shane Rattenbury released the report on Monday 6 May, coinciding with the launch of National Road Safety Week.
Mr Rattenbury was pleased with the results to date, however he acknowledged “we really need 100% compliance on this. All it takes is one small mistake and it can have very serious consequences”.
Minimum passing laws were introduced in the ACT in 2015 initially on a trial basis, and permanently implemented last year. Drivers are required to provide a minimum passing distance of 1m when overtaking cyclists in speed zones at or below 60km/h, and 1.5m in speed zones above 60km/h.
Mr Rattenbury said “every road in the ACT has enough room” to accommodate the minimum passing distances and reminded drivers that “on narrow roads or roads with narrow lanes, they are permitted to cross centre lines, straddle lane-lines and drive on painted islands, to provide the required passing distance” if “they have a clear view of any approaching traffic and that it is safe to do so”.
According to ACT Policing’s Detective Sergeant Road Safety Operations Marcus Boorman, a number of infringements have been issued relating to minimum passing distance; the penalty is a $292 fine and loss of two demerit points. However, he acknowledged there are some problems in relation to enforcement.
“It is not as easy as what everybody thinks, however what I will say is ACT Policing, going into the future, will be using different strategies and people will be held to account in the appropriate circumstances.”
Pedal Power ACT CEO Ian Ross said it is pleasing that ACT Policing are working on compliance and enforcement while the level of compliance from motorists is “heartening”.
Meantime, the NSW Government has announced that from 20 May drink drivers who are first-time, lower range offenders will receive an immediate three-month licence suspension and fine of $561. An ACT Government spokesperson said the ACT Government will closely monitor the approach adopted in NSW and will examine the evidence of the impacts of this policy over time.