WestCycle, the peak body for cycling in Western Australia (WA), supports the introduction of minimum passing distance legislation in WA.
Lynn MacLaren MLC introduced into WA Parliament today the Road Traffic (Keeping Safe Distances from Bicycles) Amendment Bill 2014. The WA Bill requires drivers of vehicles to leave a minimum distance when overtaking bicycle riders: 1 metre on roads up to 60 km/h, and 1.5 metres on faster roads. WestCycle Chief Executive, Clint Shaw said the law would provide better guidance on what
a safe passing distance is.
“Current road rules require drivers to allow a ‘sufficient’ overtaking distance when passing a cyclist. This is a pretty vague instruction.” Mr Shaw said.
“Amendments that specify what a minimum overtaking distance is and a high profile education and awareness campaign that reinforces this requirement are critical if we are serious about improving the safety of bike riders.”
While WA’s overall road toll is trending downwards, the trend for cycling fatalities is increasing, with 6 cyclist fatalities last year and 3 cyclist fatalities in 2012.
“The government needs to be doing more to protect cyclists and to create an environment of mutual respect on our roads,” Mr Shaw said. “The passing of a safe passing distances bill is the perfect place to start.”
To support the need for the laws, Mr Shaw points to the work recently carried out by a Parliamentary Committee in Queensland.
“The Queensland government recently commissioned a parliamentary inquiry into cycling issues. As part of this inquiry they devoted 25 pages to a discussion on a minimum overtaking distance, and after considering all the factors for and against, they reached the conclusion that a minimum overtaking distance was needed,” he said.
“Since then, the Queensland Transport Minister, Mr Scott Emerson has committed to a 2 year trial of the rule. At the very least, WA needs to do the same.”