Safe Passing Distance Bill

WestCycle fully endorses the Road Traffic (Keeping Safe Distances from Bicycles) Amendment Bill to be tabled in parliament on Thursday 16 October. 

The Bill requires drivers of motor vehicles to leave a minimum distance when overtaking a cyclist: 1 metre on roads up to 60 km/h and 1.5 metres on faster roads.

Clint Shaw, chief executive of WA’s peak cycling body WestCycle said that not enough is being done to improve the safety of bike riders.

“Despite all the good work being done by the state government to build more cycling infrastructure, and even more recently through a cycling safety campaign, the harsh reality is that it’s still not enough.”

“2014 is shaping up as our worst year on record for cycling fatalities. And that’s with 10 weeks still to go before the year is out,” he added.

7 cyclists have been killed in WA in 2014. This is up from 6 fatalities in 2013 and 3 fatalities in 2012. “The trend is alarming.”

Mr Shaw also pointed out that safe passing distance laws are not new. “Earlier this year we saw the Queensland government agree to trial the minimum passing distance law. We’ve also had the ACT government recently come out and agree to do the same. If we’re serious about protecting cyclists and reversing the trend in WA then we need to do the same.”

Bicycle Transport Alliance CEO, Heinrich Benz says that the majority of cyclist fatalities (86%) involve a motor vehicle. “A comprehensive study just published by the Monash University Accident Research Centre shows that 93.4% of unsafe car-cyclist encounters are caused by the behavior of car drivers. And in over a third of these encounters the car was travelling in the same direction as the cyclist. A legalised safe passing distance would be an excellent first step to improving road safety and reducing fatalities.”

Mr Benz also said that legislating a minimum passing distance works to change behavior. “A study into the effects of a 3-foot legalised passing distance in Baltimore USA did not find a single case where a car overtook a cyclist with less than a 2’6 clearance. This means that cars were more aware of the need to give space and managed to do so in most cases.”

Amy Gillett Foundation CEO Tracey Gaudry said that "improving existing laws to provide motorists with a practical, measurable benchmark for safe passing distance will significantly improve safety and reduce death and injury for bike riders.”

“A car hitting a bike rider from behind while travelling in the same direction is the most common crash type that results in a bike rider fatality. In 2013, 50 people were killed in Australia while riding their bike and currently we are trending towards 48 deaths in 2014,” Ms Gaudry said.

“The best way to improve safety when sharing the road with bike riders is to slow down and give space – a metre matters. Two governments at opposite ends of the political spectrum in Australia – Queensland and the ACT – have implemented safe passing distance legislation and are leading the way on proactive law-making that will decisively improve safety for bike riders on roads. We urge the Western Australian government to follow suit.”

WestCycle encourages all cycling groups and bike riders to gather on the steps of parliament tomorrow morning at 9.30am to show their support for the Keeping Safe Distances Bill. 

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