RACQ backs retention of one-metre passing law

The RACQ has backed Queensland’s bicycle passing laws. Photo: Ken IrwinQueensland’s peak motoring body has backed calls for the state’s one-metre overtaking rule for motorists passing cyclists to continue beyond the end of its two-year trial.
Nanjing Night Net

Legislation requiring motorists to give cyclists a clearance of at least one metre when overtaking was passed in the Queensland Parliament in 2014.

The legislation, which required motorists to keep one metre between themselves and bikes in 60km/h zones and 1.5 metres in faster zones, was to be re-examined after two years.

Two years on, RACQ executive general manager Paul Turner said the club had put its “full support” behind the law’s retention.

Mr Turner said the safety benefits had become apparent.

“Two years ago we were worried that legislation may not have the desired effect of helping bring down the number of serious and fatal crashes involving cyclists on our roads, however we’re encouraged by initial findings and it’s a move our members support,” Mr Turner said.

“An RACQ survey shows more than 42 per cent of Queenslanders think the rule has made the roads safer for cyclists and about the same number want the law permanently on the books.

“Just 22 per cent of respondents want to abolish the law.

“What we absolutely need now is more advertising about the importance of this legislation from the state government, as our research has shown while more than 82 per cent of people know it exists, a large number may not know why it will help cyclists and motorists travel alongside each other.

“The only sure way to see behavioural change into the future is through further education and awareness campaigns for cyclists and motorists about safely sharing the road.”

Mr Turner said he acknowledged police concerns about the difficulty associated with enforcing the law.

“However the positive outcomes the rule has already had in giving motorists more certainty in how much space to allow when travelling alongside bikes, and better peace of mind for cyclists are a win for all road users,” he said.

“Queensland would be taking a regressive step if it repealed the law, considering similar legislation has now also been introduced in New South Wales, South Australia, the ACT and Tasmania.”

CBD Bicycle Users Group co-convenor Donald Campbell, who was involved in the formulation of the legislation, said cyclists were mostly pleased with how it had worked out.

“Unfortunately, in our experience, it has not been adhered to as much as it should have been and sometimes the Queensland Police Service has not been as forthcoming with ensuring that the law has been enforced,” he said.

Still, Mr Campbell said there had been a noticeable change on Queensland’s roads since the new law was introduced.

“The cautious drivers have got even more cautious,” he said.

“The ones who would always give us sufficient clearance are now giving us extra clearance.

“It’s not uncommon for the cautious drivers to actually give us virtually the entire lane when overtaking us on a bidirectional road with only one lane either way.

“…But the drivers who don’t respect vulnerable road users have continued to do bad behaviour.”

Mr Turner said the introduction of segregated bicycle lanes should be a priority for all levels of government “wherever possible”.

Mr Campbell said separated lanes would be a “win-win for everyone”.

State opposition transport spokesman Scott Emerson, who oversaw the legislation’s introduction when he was a minister in the Newman government, said the Palaszczuk government should retain the rules.

“When the LNP introduced these laws in 2013 there were 13 cyclist fatalities in that year,” he said.

“Every death on our roads is a tragedy but it is encouraging that in the two years since the laws have been in place, we have seen a significant drop in cyclist fatalities.

“In 2014 there were nine cycling fatalities and in 2015, despite the overall road toll going up, there was another drop in cyclist deaths down to four.”

Mr Emerson said the Queensland legislation had “made the rest of the country sit up and take notice”.

“New South Wales and South Australia have adopted our laws, and that’s good news for cyclists,” he said.

“It is important that all users on our roads are respectful of each other and these laws give riders that extra peace of mind.”

A spokesman for Road Safety Minister Mark Bailey said the two-year trial had been assessed and an announcement on the legislation’s future would be made later this week.

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