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The changing face of Australian cycling road rules

Alia Parker's picture
Tasmania has become the latest jurisdiction to adjust its road rules affecting cyclists. Cycle Traveller

Tasmania has become the latest state to adjust its road rules affecting cyclists as the country continues to slowly progress towards making the roads a safer place for bicycle riders.

“When passing or overtaking a cyclist, a motorist will soon be able to straddle or cross a continuous centre line in order to leave a safe space between their vehicle and the cyclist, when it is safe to do so,” Elise Archer, Speaker of the House of Assembly, said in a statement.

“We want Tasmanians to feel safe travelling around our community, whether cycling, driving or walking, and are committed to enhancing road safety.”

The new rules, which come into effect on 25 February 2015, mean a vehicle can cross a single continuous line, a single continuous line combined with an unbroken line on the left or right, as well as double continuous lines, when passing a cyclists – as long as it is safe to cross into the other lane.

While the state has not formally adopted minimum passing distance legislation, the new rules will allow vehicles to comply with providing a safe passing distance, which is considered to be at least one metre when the vehicle is travelling at speeds up to 60km/h, and 1.5 metres at speeds above 60km/h.

The government says it will also roll out new yellow advisory signage in March with the message "pass cyclists safely" along popular cycling routes.
The move has been applauded by the CEO of cycling safety advocacy group Amy Gillett Foundation, Tracey Gaudry.

“Tasmania is half way there with the introduction of these new road rules and we look forward to working closely with the government to extend its great work to legislate safe passing distances, because everyone has the right to get home safely.” Gaudry said.

National action

The move follows South Australia's decision in January to introduce minimum overtaking distance legislation for motorists overtaking cyclists, becoming the third jurisdiction to do so after Queensland and the ACT.

Queensland has also gone a step further with new rules announced this year that allow cyclists to ride across zebra crossings, choose whether or not to use bicycle paths, and take up the lane when cycling through roundabouts (Read: Queensland removes three frustrating rules for cyclists).

“We know that minimum overtaking distance legislation is already having an extremely positive impact in Queensland,” Gaudry said.

“Survey results show a positive shift in driver behaviour and bike riders experiencing an increased feeling of safety on Queensland roads after just six months of the legislative trial.”

She said Tasmania was the only state not to record a cycling fatality in 2014, the same year the government began to work with the Amy Gillett Foundation to implement its It's a two-way street campaign, designed to educate all road users about how to share the road safely.

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