More cyclists are now sharing the roads with motorists than ever before. If you are a car owner or motorcycle rider, you should know that cyclists have the same rights as motorists. Motorists need to be aware of their presence on the road and respect their space, whether they are recreational cyclists or regular commuters. To reduce bicycle-related accidents on the road, the NSW government has followed Queensland and WA and imposed a safe passing distance between cars and cyclists.

What is the new rule?

Just like Queensland and Western Australia, NSW is now enforcing a minimum distance between vehicles passing cyclists on the road. According to the new law, vehicles are now required to leave at least a one-metre distance when passing cyclists moving at 60km/h or less. Also, a minimum of 1.5 metres of space should be maintained when overtaking cyclists travelling at more than 60km/h.

The rule applies when the motorists and cyclists are driving in the same direction, whether in a single lane or multi-lane roads. It does not apply when motorists are travelling opposite the cyclists’ direction. The minimum distance is measured not by the body of a vehicle, but from the tip of its side mirror or anything sticking out of it.

Who should comply?

Drivers of private cars, public transport vehicles, heavy vehicles, and motorcycles are all expected to follow the new law. A violation of this minimum distance will cost motorists $330 fine plus two demerit points. To aid the NSW motorists in adhering to the new law, some exemptions on the road rules will be given to them. These exemptions include permission to cross solid white lines, stray into another lane, and drive on flat painted islands when overtaking cyclists. They can be done by motorists, just as long as it’s safe to do so.

Prior to the legislation of the new law, NSW ran a two-year trial of these rules, which resulted in an almost 15% decrease in accidents between bicycles and other vehicles. The NSW Minister for Roads Melinda Pavey said that the 15% reduction indicates that the trial was successful and that there was good feedback from both the motorists and cycling groups. She added that the result of the trial proves that people respected the new law.

According to Steve Drake, the Chief Executive of Cycling Australia, the law will help decrease the incidents when cyclists are hit by side mirrors. He added that the minimum passing distance law will help keep vulnerable road users safe.

Let’s help ensure safety on the road

Just last year, there was a recorded 104% increase in cyclist related deaths reported in the country. This law on the minimum distance between cars and cyclists will help in preventing these fatalities from happening again. If you are a motorist in NSW, make sure to follow the new laws because someone’s life may depend on it.