Call to crack down on bicycle 1-metre overtaking laws after just eight fines levelled in a year
Safe passing rules were introduced in WA last year in a bid to give both cyclists and motorists clarity. (ABC News: James Carmody)
Cyclists have called for stronger enforcement of new 1-metre passing laws for motorists after police data revealed less than one driver a month was being fined.
- Motorists who pass cyclists too closely can cop a $400 fine and four demerit points
- Westcycle says despite the low number of fines, cyclists have noticed improvements
- Police say sanctions are issued when there is clear and legally admissible evidence
In a little over a year, a total of just eight fines had been handed out across the entire state and two people had been charged for breaching the minimum distance laws for overtaking cyclists.
The law requires motorists to maintain a distance of at least 1 metre while overtaking a cyclist riding on the road.
This becomes 1.5 metres for people driving more than 60 kilometres per hour, and motorists are allowed to cross double white lines to overtake if it is safe.
The change came into effect in November 2017 and was rolled out alongside a large information campaign.
An extensive information campaign was launched alongside the 1-metre passing laws. (Supplied: RSCWA)
The penalty for passing too closely is a fine of $400 and four demerit points.
The peak body for cyclists in WA, Westcycle, said it was time the penalty was put to use.
“12 months on drivers should be aware of the law, [so] we would like to see the police out there actively enforcing it,” Westcycle CEO Matt Fulton said.
Cycling advocates say bike users are trying harder to be understanding of motorists. (ABC News: James Carmody)
Cyclist-driver relationships improving
Mr Fulton said despite the low number of fines issued, both cyclists and motorists had noticed improvements since the law was introduced.
“Cyclists are certainly noticing out there that cars are giving more space to them when overtaking and the majority of drivers are adhering to that metre passing distance,” he said.
Westcycle CEO Matt Fulton says it is time police started enforcing the 1-metre passing law. (ABC News: James Carmody)
“And it’s actually been accepted by drivers as well, which is really promising.
“I think a lot of the frustration has been taken out of the cyclist-and-driver relationship now that drivers can overtake by going over white lines when it’s safe to do so.”
Mr Fulton said he had noticed cyclists were also making more of an effort to be understanding of motorists by limiting practices such as riding two abreast.
“I think, in reflection, 2018 has been a year of bringing motorists and cyclists together,” he said.
“Things such as the introduction of this law have helped, and I think there’s just a better common sense approach to riding and driving.”
The information campaign also targeted cyclist behaviours.
Not just about enforcement: police
WA Police State Traffic Commander Scott Higgins said the new rules had so far proved effective.
“The message is not necessarily about purely enforcement,” he said.
“I think we’ve had an opportunity for our officers to just engage with a number of drivers and just remind them of the courtesy and respect that we need to show all road users.
“It seems to be well received by both drivers and riders.”
WA Police State Traffic Commander Scott Higgins says the laws have been well received. (ABC News: James Carmody)
Acting road safety commissioner Teresa Williams said the law would be reviewed with a report due in 2019, but it seemed to be going well.
“So far we would say that it’s been well received,” she said.
Police have urged drivers not to be complacent and also warned that double demerits would be in place from midnight tonight until Sunday January 6, 2019.