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ACT Greens call for greater passing distance awareness

ACT Greens MLA Caroline Le Couteur is putting pressure on ACT Policing and Transport Canberra to step up community education and enforcement of minimum passing distance laws.

The law requires drivers to leave at least one metre of space when passing a person riding a bike on the road.

“I think many drivers just don’t realise what it’s like to be a cyclist, only a few centimetres away from a large piece of metal going very quickly. That’s why we need more education for car drivers, bus drivers and all the other drivers who should be observing the one-metre rule in the ACT,” Ms Le Couteur said.

The call for enforcement was prompted after two recent questions on notice to the Legislative Assembly by Ms Le Couteur revealed that only 12 cautions or infringements have been issues by police since the start of 2016.

Over the same period, there have been 179 complaints about the attitude and actions of ACTION bus drivers towards bike riders.

In response to questions from the Canberra Times, ACT Policing responded by saying that they planned to campaign around the safety of vulnerable road users - cyclists, children, pedestrians and motorcyclists - next month.

Bicycle Network supports the introduction of minimum passing distance legislation across Australia with enforcement key to building awareness and behaviour change.

See Bicycle Network's campaign for minimum passing distance legislation.

ACT - Australia's cycling capital?

A lack of enforcement of minimum passing distance legislation is also in conflict with the ACT Government's current commitment to be the active travel capital of Australia.

Currently, the ACT government dedicates 14 per cent of its transport budget to active travel – the highest in Australia and closest to the UN’s recommended target of 20 per cent.

As a result, it also boasts some of the highest cycling rates in Australia (at roughly 3 per cent.)

In an effort to encourage active travel and reap the benefits of more people riding bikes, the ACT government has also recently invested in a bike barometer, announced it's own share bike trial and revealed plans to invest $30 million to improve bike paths to draw in tourists. 

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Photo by Nikysya Afonya on Reshot