Research from the Road Safety Advisory Council has found that driver understanding of the 1 metre cyclist passing laws has increased over the past four years, but not of the 1.5 metre passing law.
The council conducted surveys of Tasmanians in 2015, 2017 and 2018.
In 2015, 89% percent of respondents said they needed to give cyclists 1 metre distance when driving at 60km/h or less, compared to 96% in 2018.
The same level of recognition was not forthcoming for the 1.5 metre rule at above 60km/h, with 55% correctly answering in 2015 compared to 46% in 2018.
People who were questioned were also asked how often they rode a bicycle.
In 2018, 67% said they never cycle, 14% said they cycled weekly, 12% ride 1–3 days a month and 7% ride less than one day per month.
Of those 33% of people who ride a bicycle, there was good news about the impact of minimum passing laws in that fewer riders felt at risk from vehicles coming to close to them.
There was a decrease in the number of riders who said they feel unsafe “always” or “most of the time” due to cars beside them – 25% in 2018 compared to 37% in 2015. And the number of riders who said they “rarely” or “never” feel unsafe because of cars behind them was 47% in 2018 compared to 36% in 2015.
However, this doesn’t mean that riders think it’s safer on the roads. When asked if they feel they are “never” or “rarely” at risk of not being hit by a vehicle, 39% agreed in 2018, compared to 28% in 2015.
One of the significant differences in answers was the number of people who said they cycled to and from work and to and from school or university.
In 2015 and 2017, 12% and 13% said they rode to work but this dropped to only 6% in 2018.
On the other hand, in 2015 and 2017 only 3% and 1% rode to school or university but in 2018 this rose to 6%.
ACT Greens call for greater awareness
There are troubles up on the mainland with minimum passing distance laws, with ACT data showing only a small number of infringements are handed to drivers for breaking passing distance rules.
This has led to the ACT Greens calling for greater awareness and enforcement of the rules.