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  • Dave

    With friends like BNV, who needs enemies?

    The conflict of interest is strong here, they can’t possibly hope to advocate effectively at the same time as generating revenue through insurance and selling tickets to enjoy ‘safe’ rides. Time for a more effective advocate to move in on BNV’s turf.

    • Cam

      Huh? How is there a conflict of interest in advocacy, having a membership base and running events. All seem to complement each other rather than conflict.

      • Hamish Moffatt

        Don’t forget their tie-ins with the RACV.

        • Cam

          I don’t necessarily agree with the terms that BNV are proposing, they have stated their reasoning and they seem to believe it is in the best interests of cyclists. But I still don’t see where there is a conflict of interest.

          As for their association with the RACV from what I can gather 2 of 10 or more events that BNV run are sponsored by RACV. I don’t think would give them the power to influence policy decisions. BNV seem to run the rest without their input so could do the 2 without them if need be.

          Also RACV seem to be quite pro-active in the cycling scene, other than 2 BNV events they also sponsor Local cycling clubs, school cycling programs, other cycling event organizations and run other cycling initiatives like the Melbourne bike share program. It is know that some of the board and directors themselves are avid cyclists. Their reasoning in being pro cycling is their claim that nearly half of RACV’s members ride, they also offer bike insurance and bike assist programs to their members.

          • jules

            RACV has improved. they were once run by a bunch of crusty old Directors whose views on cycling are probably unprintable, but they’ve modernised somewhat.

  • jules

    problem: cyclists are at risk of being injured or killed by motorists.

    main cause: motorists either lack the skills to drive safely around cyclists, or don’t bother trying. or deliberately put cyclists at risk. they are mostly unaccountable for failing to drive safely around cyclists, which facilitates the behaviour.

    proposed solution: clarify one (important) element of driving safely around cyclists – i.e. pass with sufficient lateral distance. penalty is relatively minor and mostly unenforceable.

    how much of the problem are we likely to solve here? I’d suggest – very little.

    I think it’s still a good idea to have a passing distance law. but I think cyclists are being outflanked. by putting up such resistance to what is really only a piece in the puzzle of what it takes to keep cyclists safe from motorists, we have been worn down into believing that we’ve ‘won the war’.

    the fact that such a minor rule amendment that is basically unenforceable (and to the extent it is – police overwhelmingly just refuse to enforce it) has caused such a ruckus is proof of how far behind we are.

    • Lee Turner

      It’s all about perception. When a motorist see’s a cyclist on the road they must immediately think I’ve got to give them a metre or more. It will force them to slow down and pass us safely. Not all drivers will do it and a lot won’t but the message needs to be spread.

      It can be enforced and its a defeatist attitude to say it can’t.

      As a cyclist I would feel much safer knowing that the driver coming up from behind has to give me a metre or more. The driver shouldn’t have to think what speed zone am I in? It’s also crucial to have a metre plus in congested streets with car doors flying open.

      It should be a blanket law plain and simple.

      • jules

        I’m mostly agreeing with you. I’m not opposing the actual rule. I just find it ridiculous that we have to fight for such a small change, particularly when the real argument against it boils down to “I don’t want to have to pass cyclists safely”.

        you can’t even climb a ladder in a workplace these days without regulations crawling all over you, eliminating every bit of risk. but putting cyclists’ lives at risk all day, every day… no problem.

        • Arfy

          I think sometimes the problem is that the driver doesn’t understand, or want to understand, that their driving is dangerous. However I think that peer group pressure should not be underestimated, when I rode in Adelaide during TDU with the new laws, it was quite obvious that drivers were being careful to leave 1m passing distance, and had no problem in doing so. Once people see others doing it easily, they somehow manage to adapt.

      • Pete

        Not just perception either.
        Never mind if a car passes .75 or 1.25m away.
        If a car hits a cyclist whilst passing, they broke the law.

  • I’m not extremely fussed over the exemption (compromise/”balance”); but it shouldn’t be coming from them (gradualism in theory is perpetuity in practice). Who is going to hold the end goal (e.g. bike lanes on every road) banner high if not them?

    Re: “But it’s a balance. If someone’s got a better idea we’d love to hear it and love to back it.”


  • Cam

    A five year trial! By the time BN finishes the trial driverless cars will be the norm and the problem won’t exist.

    • Jim

      You honestly reckon we’ll have driver-less cars in 5 years ? Technology may be there but how could the legislation (ADR’s etc) be in place if it takes a 5 year trail to consider whether a driver should leave a gap of 1 metre when passing somebody on a pushy ?

      Only reason it’s a metre is because most drivers are clueless as to where the corners of their cars are.

      • Cam

        I was being a little sarcastic, though I don’t believe it will be too long before we have dedicated lanes on major roads for driverless cars. The incentives for governments are far greater than changing cycling legislation.

  • Geoff

    One of the biggest problems we have is awareness, on the part of motorists, of cyclists. What is clear to me is that many motorists are not on the lookout for cyclists, and also aren’t aware of cyclists. This starts with driver training. While I am in favour of minimum passing distances, I also believe there is a need to change driver training so that drivers are taught to always be aware of the possibility of encountering cyclists. We need to move away from the system of allowing any driver to train a learner driver, and move towards the European system where learner drivers have to log hours, under different driving conditions, with a qualified driving instructor. The current system in Australia (and other countries like South Africa) allows one generation’s bad habits to be propagated to the next.

    • Nick

      The point of awareness is an interesting topic to raise. I remember being taught to wear high vis clothing when commuting- the purpose being that when a driver claims they didn’t see you they can’t try and blame it on wearing dark clothes. Counter to that was that cars don’t sport high vis paint to help you see them, you should just be aware that there might be a car on the road.

    • MadBlack

      Thanks Geoff. This will be the most (and probably only) effective way of gradually changing driver behaviour. As a European myself I could never understand how people without a licence are even allowed on the road if it’s not in a dual control car with a qualified instructor.

  • BBB

    Can someone explain why there is a p*ssing contest between two advocacy organisations? It makes no sense.
    The AGF was founded in the face of a terrible tragedy and has been pushing for road safety reform ever since.
    Bicycle Network I don’t get at all. As far as I can tell they are in the business of organising races, I mean rides, in the mountains as this obviously appeals to the common garden cyclist using the road.
    The State Government…an inquiry. Really? If its been implemented in every other state, surely the need for an inquiry is past. Unless we want to keep some public servants in a job and the government just wants to defend itself from the bogans reading the Herald Sun who will be aghast they have to give the pesky cyclists some room on the road. Just pass the law and stop stuffing around.

  • Chris Lee

    So I’m a member of bicycle network for insurance reasons, I also have home and contents insurance which covers my bike training and racing. On top of this I have a CA license which has insurance (limited). I’ve basically done this as you can never be too insured when riding around on your bike. This article has highlighted how my Bicycle Network fee is being wasted on bureaucracy, a 5 year trial with further studies is laughable, as is clouding the law with interpretations depending on circumstance.

  • Michael

    There is no balance when it comes to the safety of your membership base? You propose a measure that will ensure the safety of all riders regardless of the probables such as rider experience. Craig Richards has undoubtedly failed the membership of Bicycle Network. Let the policy makers worry about the balance if required.

  • Re: “If someone’s got a better idea we’d love to hear it and love to back it.”

    = The main achievement of economics is that it has provided a theory of peaceful human cooperation. This is why the harbingers of violent
    conflict have branded it as a dismal science and why this age of wars [e.g. on the road], civil wars, and destruction has no use for it.
    — Ludwig von Mises

    Further see the principles outlined here (starts 1:26):

    • JasonM

      Ludwig von Mises on Cycling Tips. Good one : )

  • Sammy

    I actually wouldn’t have a problem with the exception for bike lanes if it wasn’t likely to lead to confusion and potentially dilute the ability or likelihood of compliance or for police to enforce the law elsewhere. If BN or the government has a suitable solution to this then I thinks its a reasonable outcome (if not a blanket 1-1.5m law should apply).

    • Lee Turner

      But what happens when you’re riding in the bike lane and a car door is flung open?? That metre would come in very handy.

      • Sammy

        That’s effectively what we have now and while a very real issue I don’t think minimum passing laws are the answer to dooring (that’s a whole other topic). Given the difficulty in getting drivers to comply etc I think a blanket passing rule is more likely to succeed I’m just saying if there was a convincing argument as to how the proposed different regulations re: bike lanes could be communicated and enforced then I’d be happy with that.

  • G-Stroke

    In general, the driver training required of licensed motorists in Australia is appalling. The poor attitudes that this lackadaisical approach allows to flourish, and puts the more vulnerable road user at a higher risk than in other countries.
    Riding in rural Ireland on tiny narrow roads with 100km speed zones, we never came across this attitude in 5 weeks of travel. We received waves, and “hello’s”. In Australia I regularly get near misses, verbal abuse, group rides having bottles and Macca’s thick shakes hurled through the bunch.
    Where I live and ride in WA, there have been a spate of hit and runs on cyclists in just the past few weeks alone, two of which I recall being fatal.
    As a driver in WA, we are in a large 4WD ute. The consequence of driving this vehicle poorly is dangerous for other cars, let alone riders and pedestrians – and we drive accordingly. Watching drivers in general through metro Perth is frightening – lane changes without adequate space, tailgating at freeway speeds, speeding through school zone pedestrian crossings, mounting kerbs through speed control chicanes….. and this is just our suburb. Public transit vehicles are as poorly skilled as private car drivers.
    It comes down to common respect. Arguing against, or not allowing, the one metre rule when passing a cyclist is essentially saying “I don’t care for your life or well being”. Leave a metre – don’t risk killing or maiming another human. What is the actual cost of NOT risking someones life? What is the actual cost of waiting a few short seconds before passing safely? I can’t imagine that these few short moments of someones day is a real life, significant, tangible loss.
    These attitudes make Australia in general look like an uneducated, inbred backwater, which is increasingly the image we are projecting overseas. Perth is hardly helping the national average……….

  • Mark Blackwell

    Of course if you just plain ask cyclists “do you support a 1m minimum passing distance” most would say yes… why wouldn’t they… but this is not a realistic outcome of a 1m passing law. Even assuming great public education about the new law, strict enforcement and thus broad compliance, it will just create a lineup of cars behind riders while the law-abiding driver at the front waits for the opportunity to pass. Those drivers kept waiting will get annoyed, probably aggressive and feel even more justified in their position that cyclists should not be allowed on roads (and certainly not riding two-abreast).

    The longer term result is a loooong way removed from a consistent 1m minimum passing distance. Given the more realistic set of options, I’d prefer to stick with today’s situation.

    • Sammy

      While that scenario will no doubt occur from time to time I don’t believe it would be the norm. Additionally passing the law would send a message that cyclists are legitimate road users and drivers have obligations under the law to respect that. While this is obviously the case now, anything that helps reinforce that perception is a good thing.

    • jules

      the complaints of being ‘stuck behind cyclists for 1/2 hour’ are a myth, in my experience. short delays happen occasionally, but it’s rarely more than a few seconds.

      a bike is maybe 70cm wide. cars are ~1.5+m wide. if bikes were blocking cars, then what are cars doing? oh, yeah… blocking each other. peak hour delays make complaints about cyclists blocking look trivial.

  • Andy B

    Whilst I can see the intention of it not being necessary under 50km/h and in a bike lane
    I seem to have issues most mornings with drivers coming almost into the bike lane and there being cars parked on the left side and sticking into the bike lane creating a sandwich effect (where im the meat)
    Also the potential for doors to be opened into the lane is always an issue so I think the importance of having the 1m everywhere allows a bit more room for crash avoidance

  • Arfy

    If a cyclist is riding in a designated bicycle lane, then it’s even easier to comply with a minimum 1m overtaking law, why is BNV continuing to play politics on this issue? Are they really so self-indulgent to think that their membership base is agreeing with the flip-flop politics they continue to spout? The RACV projects a more pro-cyclist vision than BNV.

      • Arfy

        Quite interesting, I hadn’t read that before. Not that I’d particularly expect RACV to put the cyclist’s viewpoint (I hold BNV to a higher standard because of the interest group they’re representing), but they do bring up some interesting points, not the least of which is the research that concluded cars were at least 3 feet (close enough to a meter) from bicycles when using bicycle lanes, so directly proving BNV’s position of specifically stating that the 1m overtaking law does not apply when a bicycle is in a bicycle lane as redundant. Mind you they shoot their credibility down pretty quickly when they make a recommendation based on “a rider familiar with these areas” – that’s right, a single person is used as their whole supporting case for one of their formal recommendations!!

  • Lucas van Grinsven

    An observation from the Netherlands, where I live and which is recognised as a bicycle-friendly country: it’s interesting to note that Dutch car drivers are not respecting the 1 metre law at all. They often overtake at a much closer range. When a suggested bike lane is painted on the tarmac, it is usually 1 metre wide with a dotted boundary line to suggest that drivers have their part of the road but can also use the bike lane if needed. A car will gladly use all “his/her” assigned tarmac when overtaking, and will be very close to the cyclist: it’s his/her part of the road, innit? I remember being positvely surprised when cycling on French provincial roads that cars would gladly stay behind me until they could overtake me on the opposing lane. Dutch drivers just squeeze through. As a Dutchman one piece of advice therefore: follow your own “path”, because even supposedly bike-friendly countries do not have all the right solutions. A consistent, evidence-based approach can set a new example that we can all learn from.

  • Michael_Fink

    Most comments are completely ignoring the existing circumstances which appear at the heart of Bicycle Victoria’s reason for seeking a specific exemption. Yes, we’d all love it if cars always left at least a metre in all situations. But in the real world (or at least inner city Melbourne) it’s not always that simple.

    “‘What do you do in these circumstances: low speed, the vehicles are in heavily-congested areas, the bikes are in the [bike] lane … Under the strict interpretation of the [minimum passing distance] law that would mean the vehicle has to wait if the bike’s going slow’,” Richards said.

    In the last 20 years in Victoria there have been lots of new bike lanes added to existing streets. Most cyclists would agree that is a Very Good Thing. Many of these bicycle lanes have been added to quite narrow roads. Drivers and cyclists alike might wish for wider lanes, but in many instances it simply isn’t possible.

    On some of these lanes if a car is travelling in the adjacent ‘regular’ lane to a cyclist in a bike lane it might be literally impossible (or at least very difficult) to drive in that lane and leave a minimum of one metre (especially if the cyclist rides on the far right hand side of the bike lane, like I do, to minimise the risk of ‘dooring’).

    If there are laws designed to protect cyclists then surely we want the police to enforce them. But if situations arise where every driver driving in a normal fashion is breaking that law then something has to give:
    1. Many drivers will simply tell themselves that ‘the law is an ass’ and will ignore it, and not just in the situation described.
    2. Drivers will be outraged if they get fined.
    3. Governments will come under heavy pressure to ‘fix the problem’. Which in practical terms will mean that bike lanes will be removed, because the alternative is to remove on street parking, or the car lane itself, both of which will lead to electoral oblivion.

    From what I can see Bicycle Victoria is taking a realistic approach. Laws don’t exist in a vacuum. And we should only create new laws which we intend to enforce.

    Those arguing that BV are doing cyclists a disservice should directly address this problem. Merely talking in broad brush strokes about standing up for cyclists isn’t enough. If you don’t want an exemption written into the regulations then do you want:

    1. Cars simply never to pass where ‘their’ lane is narrow and close to a bike lane?
    2. Police not to enforce the law?
    3. Such bike lanes to be removed?
    4. On-street parking or the car lane itself to be removed?

    • velocite

      Suppose we were designing the rules from scratch and the options under consideration as a passing distance were (1) one metre, (2) half a metre, (3) one mm and (4) up to the driver. In the inevitable absence of data, which one would you choose? (3) is obviously ridiculous but (4) is arguably worse. The metre rule is ubiquitous in France and Italy, countries which have a well established share the road culture. We don’t have to invent anything here. I wonder if the BN executive members all confine their riding to dedicated cycling infrastructure, because it beats me how anyone who rides on the roads could not be in favour of a helpful guideline for cars. I can see how in inner city areas the metre rule will be routinely flouted, but the speeds will be low and no one will be prosecuted, so in practice no problem.

      My BN membership is about to expire after many years, and I’m contemplating jumping ship. A friend has already done that, joined Bicycle NSW.

      • Michael_Fink

        So to be clear, Velocite, are you advocating that:

        1) the government create new road regulations which you explicitly do not want to be enforced?
        2) the government create new road regulations which you want to be enforced, but do not expect to be?

        • velocite

          Serious question Michael: have you ridden in jurisdictions where the metre rule is well accepted and established? The hypothetical situations you mention just don’t come up as problems. I expect that prosecutions of any metre rule would only follow incidents, and that its main purpose is to inform drivers of what’s reasonable. No one is proposing police with laser devices prosecuting drivers for leaving only 90 cms.

          • Michael_Fink

            I have ridden a little bit in Brisbane and Sydney in the past few years, but for the purposes of this discussion let’s say no.

            But I do ride nearly every day in inner-city Melbourne, and the situations I describe are far from ‘hypothetical’. There are probably four bike lanes within 500m of my house where the situations are exactly as I describe (in fact one is featured in the City of Melbourne’s submission that Matt De Neef has linked to below.) And cars pass cyclists riding in those bike lanes with less than a metre buffer all the time. That’s the reality. That’s what the Victorian Parliament has to take into account when framing a new law.

            You actually outline exactly why I have a problem with a blunt rule. If the rule is poorly conceived then drivers will ignore it. If we only ever prosecute the poorly conceived rule if there is a collision then what is the point of the rule? There are already laws (with much greater penalties) which apply if a driver causes a collision with a bicycle.

            • velocite

              Have you looked at the submissions to the Victorian Government enquiry? They’re on the web, including mine and BN’s. Maybe one from you?

      • Cam

        velocite wrote : “I can see how in inner city areas the metre rule will be routinely flouted, but the speeds will be low and no one will be prosecuted”

        So are you agreeing with the BNV clause in their submission ?

    • jules

      removing on-street parking on major roads is absolutely do-able. it benefits a small few and penalises a large number. even the RACV supports it. the major opponents are a very small proportion of the population – business owners who would be compelled to provide parking at their expense, instead of tax-payers’. they don’t like that.

  • Michael_Fink

    Take a look at the main photo on this article.

    Do those that are criticising Bicycle Victoria think:

    1. No car should ever pass a cyclist using the bike lane?
    2. Police should not book drivers who pass a cyclist in the bike lane (even though they will almost certainly be breaking the proposed law)?
    3. The bike lane should be removed?
    4. The on-street parking should be removed.
    5. Cars should not be allowed to use this road.

    • jules

      “1. No car should ever pass a cyclist using the bike lane?”

      you know a key point here is that the rule would place pressure on roads authorities to start build roads and arrange lanes on them so that cars can pass with 1m gap.

      it’s a mistake to assess the rule through the lens of what exists now.

  • Matthew B.

    As to NSW, in my daily experience of cycling the new laws have had no effect so far. Motorists continue to pass bicycles in the usual way; and the general types of attitude are unchanged – i.e. courtesy, impatience or explosive hostility.

    I agree with Jules that the passing law is unenforceable; but that it’s better to have it than not, for other reasons.

    And as for the ultimate solution (in particular updated roadway design and rules, and cycling infrastructure), the efforts of councils and the State government are as slow and paltry as ever.

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      • Roger That

        Lori, I find it highly implausible that you were able to purchase a McLaren P1 for the amount you mentioned. I think you may have purchased a MockLaren. They use a 2-stroke lawnmower engine and will get you from A to B, but seriously, I would have bought a nice bike or two and gone on a relaxing holiday.

  • Anon N + 1

    One thing that can be said for such a law is that it creates a presumption of a fault when there is an accident. Any time a bicycle rider is injured in an accident involving a motor vehicle overtaking a bicycle, we can assume the vehicle violated the law. If the driver had been within the letter of the law and had be a meter or more from the cyclist, there would not have been an accident. Thus the driver has to overcome this presumption by proving that the accident occurred DESPITE having been over a meter away from the bike.

    • jules

      in theory you’re right. if you’ve spoken to a few cyclists who’ve been hit though and tried to have the driver charged – I’d suggest you’d realise how hopeless it can be. a lot of police have zero interest in charging motorists for hitting cyclists. your guess is as good as mine as to why.

      • Douglas

        It’s not just a question of Police taking action. Recovering costs in civil actions would no doubt be facilitated. See my post above.

      • Nick

        Do you think there’s a place for a law that assumes guilt on part of the driver unless proven otherwise? Protecting vulnerable road users kind of theme.

        • velocite

          I understand that’s the situation in Germany. Good approach IMHO.

        • BBB

          The problem with this kind of assumption is that it ignores the fact that not all accidents are the fault of the driver. It also ignores that there are plenty of cyclists out there that choose to ignore the road rules, thus tarring all of us with the reckless/irresponsible brush. Yes the law should protect the vulnerable, which appears to be the aim behind mandatory passing limits, but it should not put the burden on a driver to prove they are innocent.

          • jules

            this is a much misunderstood concept. on shared paths, cyclists must yield to pedestrians. if a cyclist collides with a pedestrian, then by definition – they failed to yield. it’s an offence. effectively – cyclists are held to the same standard as you are arguing motorists should not be. it’s a double standard.

            that rule will never(?) be applied to motorists on the road – as it would mean they would need to stop for every cyclist who came across their path. despite that being the requirement for cyclists on shared paths, and people accepting it, motorists wouldn’t on roads.

            but it’s not the only option. another is to place a positive duty on motorists to avoid colliding with cyclists. this is a softer option than a strict liability “if you hit a cyclist, you’re at fault” rule. if you analyse a lot of the cases brought against motorists who have struck cyclists, their defence is frequently “umm. I dunno… I thought it was OK?” this understandably outrages cyclists – but it’s actually quite legal. there is no requirement for motorists to actively avoid colliding with a cyclist.

            • BBB

              The notion of yielding (ie giving way) does not equate to the outcome you assume and it would fall to the particular circumstances of the case to determine who was at fault. Hence there is no double standard.
              The same rule doesn’t apply on the road and the normal road rules apply (modified as they are when it comes to bikes).
              There is a requirement. It’s called a duty of care. It is well known that ignorance of the law is no defence and the “I thought it was okay” line would be weeded out well before any contest on liability. Liability will be determined by the particular circumstances of the case. As it should. The law should recognise that cyclists are especially vulnerable and hopefully the proposed passing law will go some way to highlighting this situation. Education is another way as well. As much as some motorists may not like people riding on the road, bikes are here to stay in various forms (transport, exercise, racing).

              • jules

                it’s always the case that circumstances are taken into account – but yield still means yield. if you strike a pedestrian, you are going to have a hard time convincing a court that you yielded and struck a pedestrian at the same time. by virtue of this requirement – the odds are stacked heavily against a cyclist in that circumstance.

                also, there is no ‘duty of care’ in the road rules. none. all states have requirements around careless, dangerous and/or reckless driving, etc. but there’s a critical limitation on those – the prosecutor must prove them. in practice, the experience is that drivers get away with obvious and severe negligence – including towards cyclists they’ve injured/killed.

                • BBB

                  I disagree re the pedestrian thing.
                  The duty of care applies to all road users; drivers to one another etc etc. It’s part of the common law and hence is not written in a statute (or the road rules). I think you are also confusing concepts too. A prosecutor deals with a criminal proceeding and has a criminal standard of proof to meet (beyond reasonable doubt). This will apply, for example, in the case of the driver in Ballarat who was driving on the wrong side of the road and cleaned up the cyclist out for an early morning ride over Easter. The vast majority of accidents on the road will involve civil proceedings (personal injury, damage to property) and they have a lower standard of proof (on the balance of probabilities). It is here that you would find most disputes in a ‘driver is deemed to be responsible’ type law came into being. Drivers have insurance (mostly) and the cyclist wanting damages to replace their broken bike and for their broken leg will end up fighting an insurer. Do you really want this, more so as premiums on car insurance would rise as the insurer’s risk will increase?

                  • jules

                    it’s much easier to win civil damages from a driver – I agree. but in Australia, damages resulting from injuries are insured under a no-fault system. so you don’t need to argue over fault for injury-related damages. just the amount of injury and damages. you are fighting TAC in Vic and other state insurers.

                    you can sue for property damage – but this is invariably not a lot of money for cyclists and in most cases the defendant, even if they lose, won’t pay. winning a payout and getting the money in your account are 2 very different matters under our legal system.

                    but I’m referring specifically to criminal law and proceedings. drivers don’t care if an insurer pays out $10 million in lifetime care for a permanently injured cyclist. they care about not going to jail. if you read through actual cases of drivers being charged for seriously injuring or killing cyclists – there is precious little about courts convicting drivers on failing in their ‘duty of care’. most get away with it. there are exceptions – and the incident in Ballarat looks likely to be one where the driver faces an uphill battle in court. but that’s not the norm.

          • Sammy

            Why not? if the statistics are to be believed in 75% of incidents involving cars and cyclists the driver is found to be at fault. Yes there are some d%$#head cyclists out there that may take advantage of a law like this but it would not be too hard to establish when a cyclist is at fault if they’re running red lights etc. I also think it is unlikely that many cyclists no matter how arrogant will deliberately put themselves in a position to collide with a car. Assumed liability might actually make drivers pay attention around cyclists because there would be a higher likelihood of a penalty.

            • BBB

              If vulnerability is to be the touchstone of such an assumption, does it only extend to cyclists?
              Would you be happy if in the case of an accident between a bike and a pedestrian that the cyclist is assumed to be at fault? What about an accident between a car and a truck…presumably the truck would be automatically at fault. Again, I’m all for protecting the vulnerable, but requiring a lot of otherwise innocent people to prove their innocence in court, potentially at great cost, is not a fair outcome.

              • Sammy

                In an accident between a cyclist and a pedestrian – yes, I would be comfortable with such a law (I don’t ride on shared paths a lot though so my interaction with pedestrians is minimal). These laws (at least in regard to cars/bikes) currently exist in other countries and seem to be reasonably effective. I don’t hold any realistic hope that they will ever be introduced here unfortunately. Any politician brave enough to try would find themselves quickly out of a job.

          • Nick

            Yes I agree that it could impose problems on drivers. I think as a deterrent it sends a stronger message than minimum passing distances in trying to protect specific road users. Given that most crashes are the fault of the driver, is it the magnitude of inconvenience placed on those 10% of drivers not at fault still a net gain against the other 90% of cases?

  • winkybiker

    The photograph fills me with terror. That is not a safe bike-lane in any sense. It is not safe to ride in, and it is not safe for a car to overtake someone who chooses to ride in it.

  • Derek Maher

    In Ireland the highway code does ask drivers to give some space to cyclists when passing them. Reasons are practical. Cyclists may have to swerve to avoid drains, potholes and other road obstacles. Most drivers are okay with this. Where a cyclist can get caught out is on a narrow road going around a bend which has a continuous white line and some inexperienced drivers try to overtake without crossing the white line and squeeze the cyclists onto the grass verge. On good straight roads one gets some excellent drafting from passing trucks and cars. Very useful in a TT.

  • James Hartwright

    My usual reaction to this is that 1m is too close!

  • geoff Duke

    As a 54 year old lifetime cyclist with most of those spent riding on the roads rather than in bike lanes, who also has a drivers license and now spends each day commuting in the inner city I would like to offer an observation. It is all well and good to assume that every accident between a car and a bike is the drivers fault and that is always easier when the cyclist inevitably comes off worse for wear. However I regularly observe commuting cyclists who do not observe the road rules and seem to think that their rights extend further than they do. I would take a guess that some of these cyclists have never driven a car and do not have a real grip on their rights or obligations as a person in charge of a vehicle. I think that education needs to go in both directions and wish that advocates would acknowledge this rather than being on one side or the other

  • Michael_Fink

    Bones, I think laws and public awareness campaigns are very different things (although often it makes good sense to introduce them concurrently).

    Laws need to be precise, so that all citizens can have faith that we are all equal before the law (and not subject to the whims of the police and courts of the day).

    More generally I have long felt that the Amy Gillett Foundation’s focus on ‘A Metre Matters’ is problematic, both legally and from an public awareness perspective. ‘A metre’ is simply too simplistic a way of addressing the problem. Sometimes a metre buffer is about right. At other times – as any cyclist who has been passed by a semi-trailer travelling at speed on a highway can attest – a metre is not enough. And at other times, like we are discussing here, society might decide that less than a metre is a compromise that we’re prepared to accept, because none of the other alternatives feel practical.

    One longstanding road safety campaign in Victoria is “Speed Kills”. It’s not “120km/h Kills” or 70km/h Kills” because we all intuitively understand that the risk is dependent upon the circumstances, and thus we’d reject any blanket directive about what speed is appropriate.

    • Bones

      Thanks for your reply and I agree. I probably don’t have as much trust as you do in our gov’t. I could never imagine police actually enforcing the law until after an accident. I also don’t have enough faith in fellow motorists to be able to know the difference between safe/unsafe. Hell, I’d be happy if I could go one day with my 11 minute commute to work where I didn’t see someone on their phone. So I’d be happy with a simplistic although unrealistic and largely unenforceable law that simply reminded motorists that other road users have rights as well. Cheers

  • Adrian

    I would encourage you to read BNV’s submission. On one hand Bicycle Network submission argues minimum overtaking distances don’t work; they haven’t reduced death and injury in places where they have been introduced or led to an increase in cycling participation. They then go onto to say that complimentary education and awareness programs are ineffective and wasteful. On the other hand and in a backhand slap they accept riders (their members) irrationally ‘feel’ safer, therefore they:

    • Support the Bill; except its OK for a driver to squeeze past a rider below 50kmh (no deaths have presumably occurred at this speed) and take up the bike lane if they want to – if both the driver and rider can work out what is a real bike lane and one that looks like a bike lane.

    • Support the introduction of a behaviour program they regard as wasteful.

    • Support pre and post research studies to confirm what they cleverly already know – “There is no strong evidence to provide that minimum overtaking distance will be transformative for rider safety”.

    2. Bicycle Network repeatedly claim ‘the evidence is inconclusive’ a totally bizarre statement when a few sentences on they say they say there is no evidence – “There is no research available specifically addressing the impact of minimum overtaking distances on bike rider deaths and injury” (para 1, page 5). Undaunted they cherry pick inappropriate ‘evidence’ and continue to use the expression ‘inconclusive’ in a misleading and deceptive way that implies the research (which they admit doesn’t exist) does not demonstrate minimum passing distances have any benefit. Twisting the truth further the executive summary says, “as there is no strong evidence against or in favour of the impact of the law”.

    Most disappointingly the false and misleading ‘evidence’ in their submission unnecessarily maligns the Amy Gillett Foundation (pg.5) and creates a divisive wedge with an organisation they should be supporting.

    3. It is a self-evident that any legislative change does not in itself miraculously gift people knowledge, common sense, respect and transform attitudes, beliefs and most importantly behaviours. In other words only a naïve organisation would believe that legislative change in isolation would result in a reduction in injury and death. As the Queensland Parliamentary Review into cycling said:

    “In order for any MOD legislation to be effective, there must be appropriate education about the law and broader cycling issues, particularly education aimed at humanising cyclists in the eyes of all road users. On the other hand, in order for the education about cycling issues to be effective there must be the legislation to enforce it and ‘crystallise’ the issue in the minds of all individuals. An effective way to achieve this is to prescribe a penalty that reflects the seriousness of the offence and sends a message to all road users that the government is willing to give support to measures aimed at reducing the number of fatalities and serious injuries on our roads in relation to cyclists.”

    And what do the geniuses at Bicycle Network say: “Research shows that mass education/awareness campaigns are not an effective way at creating behavioural change (McKenzie-Mohr 2011).” Well one wonders why Bicycle Network runs education/awareness campaigns itself, accepts money to deliver campaigns and the sea of contrary evidence (e.g. across the environment, health, work place safety, domestic violence, multiculturalism areas) which demonstrate that education/awareness programs do lead to changes in attitudes, cultural norms and behaviours.

    Bicycle Network’s position is so disappointing given the leadership role they could play. Again Queensland Parliamentary Review touches on the type of organisation Bicycle Network could be “Significantly, the laws that were deemed to have the greatest impact were those that had the support of multiple advocacy groups and government education campaigns.”

    4. Section 3.2 of the Bicycle Network submission explores whether the Bill will result in drivers giving riders more space or not. The first study in Baltimore is not even relevant – it did not measure passing distance pre and post introduction of legislation. Never fear Bicycle Network uses the ‘inconclusive’ word again to deceptively imply that legislation had not effect in Baltimore.

    It gets worse, a lot worse. In the same section Bicycle Network moves onto a series of robust pre and post studies done by the Amy Gillett Foundation, which shows that in the opinion of riders, drivers gave them increased space. Bicycle Network regards these studies as “not strong evidence” because an opinion based on observed evidence (normally admissible in court) is invalidated as a “belief” (like the tooth fairy) as opposed to the “actual” passing distance. The sub-text is people are stupid and can’t observe how close a vehicle passes them with any reliability.

    5. Section 3.3 is just plain bizarre. Bicycle Network has for years been arguing and providing evidence that riders and prospective riders who feel safer on the road will (and want to) ride and ride more often, that is participation increases. The Amy Gillett Foundation studies (Section 3.3) and the evidence Bicycle Network provides in Section 4 shows that people do feel safer with minimum overtaking distance legislation. Using Bicycle Network’s own evidence and logic it follows that the Bill is likely to lead riders and prospective riders feeling safer and riding more often. Bicycle Network now argues black is indeed white – the evidence about minimum passing distance legislation increasing participation is “inconclusive”. Again Bicycle Network deceptively uses the word ‘inconclusive’ to mean it actually CONCLUDES the Bill will not increase participation.

    This organisation has not credibility and in no way represent the view of its members or Victorians.

  • “But it’s a balance. If someone’s got a better idea we’d love to hear it and love to back it.”

    WELL , here is a BETTER IDEA , follow Paris with THEIR 2 Metre Safe Pass Law & a turn thru red lights WHEN SAFE !

    BNV seems to have done a good job for the Ladies with the ” Ascent Ride ” recently , but that was on Closed Roads !

    How many of those Ladies would have been hAPPY to ride on a MARKED CYCLE LANE with a B Double passing within CMs ?

    Even with the 1 metre Safe Pass Law in place and being honoured , they would FEEL the Wind displacement of the 45+ton Trucks !

    British Transport research shows that at 50kph the WIND effects an Adult even at 1 1/2M , so imagine the effect on a child ?

    So Craig R. get your teeth into a REQUIREMENT for 2 Metre Cycle Paths in the vicinity of SChools , AS WELL AS , a 30kph Zone , during the SCHOOL Hours 0730 to 0930 , and , 1430 to 1700hrs , so that KIDS can learn independence ( as adults used to enjoy in 20th C.) , AND , perhaps AVOID the risk of Obesity & Diabeties , that ” Mum’s Taxi ” is creating in the 21st C. Oz Nanny State !

    Getting Mum’s Taxis off the streets will free up the roads , that are now so badly congested for no other reason than ” Worrying about the kids wobbling along the road “?

    Of course Craig R. could go one step further in upsetting his litigious pals , by BACKING ” Strict Liability Laws “! Wouldn’t want to upset the OLd Pals Act ?


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October 22, 2016
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