Proposed new cycle passing distance

A proposed law change could see drivers fined for not giving cyclists adequate room when overtaking them.

A new law is being proposed in order to prevent accidents involving cyclists.

The new law would mean motorists have to give cyclists up to 1.5 meters of space when passing them on the road.

Olympic gold medallist Sarah Ulmer is part of a panel of cycling experts proposing the change following a nationwide coronial inquiry into 13 cyclist deaths in 2012.

The panel has been investigating ways to make cycling safer and has released a report containing 13 recommendations.

One is to mandate recommended minimum passing distances for vehicles overtaking people on bikes - one metre where speed limits are 60km/h or less, and 1.5m for faster areas.

That system is being trialled in Queensland, where offending drivers are penalised three demerit points and fined AU$341 (NZ$382).

If the matter goes to court, a maximum fine of AU$4554 (NZ$5105) can apply.

Earlier this year, the Green Party also called for the 1.5m passing rule to be set into law to give cyclists more protection.

Transport spokesperson Julie Anne Genter says motorists passing people on bicycles and other vulnerable road users owe them a high duty of care.

Julie believes the simple solution is to change the law to make the 1.5m passing rule mandatory.

“YouTube now has numerous dangerous close passes caught on film.

“Cycling is a healthy activity and a smart, green way of getting around. Making cycling safer benefits all New Zealanders.”

Road Transport Forum chief executive Ken Shirley says New Zealand roads are not wide enough for the compulsory clearance.

Ken says trucks would be stuck behind slow-moving cyclists and the gearing required would damage engines, reports Fairfax.


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