Bicycle Network is calling for the introduction of a special policing unit to enforce the safe passing of people who ride bikes on the road.
A key ask of Bicycle Network’s pre-budget submission for 2019-20 in New South Wales and Victoria is not only the introduction of the law in Victoria but a program of active enforcement and widespread education.
Bicycle Network would like to see state governments in both states invest in an enforcement program that mirrors the successful Operation Close Pass by West Midlands Police in the UK.
The award-winning program involves plain clothes police officers on bikes equipped with cameras that alert uniformed colleagues of close passes or other instances of poor driving. Drivers are then offered road-side education but repeat offenders, or dangerous drivers can be prosecuted.
Since the introduction of Operation Closs Pass in the UK, the number of bike riders killed or seriously hurt on the region’s roads has dropped by a fifth, with almost 200 drivers stopped, 13 prosecuted and an additional 350 fined through a review of helmet and dash-cam footage.
Implementing a similar program in Victoria or NSW would require the police to set up a special traffic policing unit to target driver behaviour towards bike riders. The unit would also be responsible for establishing an online portal and processing online reports of close pass drivers.
Recently revealed data in NSW found that between March 2016 and May 2018, only 65 traffic infringement notices were issues for unsafe passing. This is despite a survey conducted by the Dulwich Cycling Club which found that many bike riders in NSW encountered drivers disregarding the safe passing distance rule.
A current petition of state governments across Australia has nearly 12,000 signatures of people who believe that more can be done to enforce minimum passing distance laws.
Bicycle Network was also recently overwhelmed with a large number of alarming close pass videos sent in by both members and the general public.
Bicycle Network CEO Craig Richards sympathized with under resourced police in both states but acknowledged that more can and must be done to protect people who ride.
“The risk from a close passing vehicle to a vulnerable person on a bike is something our governments can’t continue to ignore.
“It’s clear that police are facing a number of challenges enforcing safe passing or minimum passing distance laws.
It’s time we recognised that this is a specialist area that requires a dedicated team within our existing police force to the lead the way,” Mr Richards said.
“The successful West Midlands Police program shows that active enforcement and education is possible with the right investment and resources.”
In addition to an enforcement program, Bicycle Network also asks for funding for a state-wide Ride2School program, a bike infrastructure fund and support for cycling tourism.
Read Bicycle Network's state budget submissions.
MPDL Enforcement in Tasmania
Learn more about the work we're doing with Tasmanian Police around enforcement of minimum passing distance law and evidence collection.