Don't get to close to cyclists

The Dubbo Bicycle User Group says new safe passing laws are a “good start” towards road harmony.

Dubbo Bicycle User Group spokesman Mick Cooper.

Dubbo Bicycle User Group spokesman Mick Cooper.

The State Government recently passed a law that will cost motorists upwards of $330 and the loss of two demerit points if they come too close to cyclists on the roads.

Drivers who pass cyclists must leave a distance of at least one metre when the speed limit is 60 kilometres per hour or lower.

When the speed limit is above 60kph, they must leave a 1.5m gap.

New Australian research published in Accident Analysis and Prevention last month found 16 percent of all drivers drove dangerously close to cyclists.

Dubbo Bicycle User Group spokesman Mick Cooper said the new law would take a lot of frustration away from motorists.

“It is pretty frustrating being stuck behind a cyclist and what happened before this rule came into place was drivers would sit behind us for a while and pass really close to us,” he said.

“That was because the driver thought they could not cross over double lines to safely pass us, now they can.

“But I am a bit disappointed that the new rule has not been well publicised, and many drivers still sit behind us and miss us by not much when they pass us because they don't know they can cross over the lines to pass us at a safe distance.”

Mr Cooper said the relationship between Dubbo motorists and bike riders is good.

“Dubbo is pretty good compared to some bigger cities, the drivers and the cyclists are fairly courteous to each other,” he said

"Although we are legally able to ride two abreast, we try not to upset motorists and, where roads are narrow, we ride single file," he said.  "We also acknowledge good behaviour by drivers with a wave when they are courteous to us."

Roads Minister Melinda Pavey said a two-year trial of the laws showed a 15 percent reduction in motor vehicle to bicycle crashes.

"No rule and no law is going to be supported by 100 percent of people 100 percent of the time. But I think we've got the balance right, I think we've struck it at common sense," she said.

Motorists do have some leeway from normal road rules to allow them to comply with the new minimum passing distance rule. 

Drivers may cross solid white lines to pass cyclists safely, drive over flat "painted islands" and they may stray into other lanes when safe to do so.