The Northern Territory is set to join the rest of Australia with plans to introduce minimum passing distance laws, leaving Victoria as the only state or territory without them.
Coming into effect on August 1, the new ‘Wider of the rider’ laws will require Territory motorists when travelling at 60km/h to leave a minimum one-metre passing distance when overtaking bike riders.
When travelling over 60km/h, motorists will be required to leave a passing distance of at least 1.5 metres.
The NT has the highest rate of cycling participation in Australia and these laws will go a long way in reducing the risk for people riding on the road.
While the NT is known for some of the most relaxed laws in the country, the introduction of the new passing distance laws, hasn’t come without resistance.
NT Road Transport Association Executive Officer Louise Bilato told the ABC that the stricter space allocation would be difficult for truck drivers to navigate.
"Road train operators throughout the Territory give as much space to cyclists — when they are trying to pass them — as possible anyway, without endangering the lives of other road users coming their way," she said.
"That it is now a 'defined' space, it is going to be a challenge.
In failing to recognise that bike riders are legitimate road users, she also went on to criticize bike riders for choosing to use the road over the purpose build off-road cycling paths.
"The guys have also made a very good point about the cycle paths that have been built in Darwin.
"I mean, the cost of those is very significant and the Northern Territory Government has made some real commitments to extending those cycle paths, but these weekend warriors in Lycra don't want to use them."
The ‘Wider of the rider’ laws were also accompanied by other road rules changes in the NT including an increase in the fine for mobile phone use while driving from $250 to $500 and allowing bike riders to ride across pedestrian crossings.
Bicycle Network is hoping that these changes will add further pressure on the Victorian Government to join the other states and territories and introduce minimum passing distance laws.
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