The ACT government has decided to keep minimum passing distance laws, following a report that found the number of crashes has reduced during the three-year trial period.
Road Safety Minister Shane Rattenbury is expected to announce on Thursday that the territory will permanently adopt the road rules which requires drivers to stay one metre clear of bike riders when overtaking them in speed zones of 60km/h or less, and 1.5m in speed zones greater than 60km/h.
Road rules were also changed to let motorists cross, straddle or drive on centre-lines and painted islands when overtaking bike riders.
“These reforms are designed to encourage more cycling and keep cyclists safe. It’s clear that the safer cycling reforms have made a positive difference in our community, and that more Canberrans are both aware of, and support, them," Mr Rattenbury said.
“We’ll continue to make it easier, safer and more convenient for people to choose cycling as their preferred method of transport."
However, the study did find that further testing is required to prove an increase in safety on the roads.
During the study period, conducted by the University of Adelaide's Centre for Automotive Safety Research, statistic showed that:
- The number of reported bicycle-related crashes reduced from 401 to 386
- Minimum passing distance-related crashes decreased from 20 to 18
- The number of cyclists in Canberra decreased, but those reporting cycling more frequently increased.
- Police issued 11 infringement notices, prompting the study to call for investigations into ways to improve enforcement*
Following a rule change letting people ride over pedestrian crossings, the study also found an increase in collisions between motorist and cyclists riding across pedestrian crossings, from 22 to 35 incidents.
This prompted the report to recommend further education campaigns telling people who drive and ride to slow down when nearing pedestrian crossings, and urged the government to widen crossings, install speed platforms and warning signage.
Perhaps most importantly, the study concluded that more than 90 per cent of people surveyed were at least "somewhat supportive" of a minimum overtaking distance laws.
It also found that nearly 70 per cent were at least "somewhat supportive" of bike riders being allowed to slowly ride across pedestrian crossings, rather than having to stop and dismount to cross, an increase compared to before the trail.
While the ACT Government is the latest to enact minimum passing distance laws, it leaves Victoria as the only state in Australia without the law or at least a trial underway.
Minimum passing distance law is one of Bicycle Network's key campaign asking this Victorian election.