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South Australia the first state to permanently apply 'one metre rule'

Alia Parker's picture
The Amy Gillet Foundation's 'A Metre Matters' campaign has influenced state policy.

While there has been a number of trials in progress around the country, it's official – South Australia has become the first Australian state to make the 'meter matters' rule permanent.

Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Stephen Mullighan said the 'One Metre Rule' – designed to reduce the number of accidents between vehicles and cyclists – would provide a clear definition of the distance vehicles are required to keep from cyclists.

“Under the changes, motorists will be required to keep at least one metre from a cyclist when the speed limit is 60km/h or under, and at least 1.5 metres when the speed limit is over 60km/h,” he said.

“If a driver has a clear view of any approaching traffic and can do so safely they will be allowed to drive to the right of the road and cross double lines to overtake a cyclist.”

The change will be introduced via regulation, effective 25 October 2015.
 
Those who break the rule will lose two demerit points and receive a fine of $287 as well as pay a $60 victims of crime levy.

The permanent application of the rule follows a state 'citizen's jury' held last year, which appointed 37 ordinary South Australians to a panel tasked with submitting ideas collected from the public about improving road safety.

The public were in support of introducing a minimum passing distance as well as allowing cyclists of all ages to ride on the footpath.

“Our public consultation showed that over 70% of those surveyed supported these two changes, and it is important we send a message to cyclists we’re working to improve their safety,” the minister said.

“We will also soon launch a new public education campaign to promote the changes before they come into affect later this month.”

The ‘One Metre Rule’ is operational in Queensland on a trial basis, and is being considered for introduction in Victoria and Western Australia. A trial is set to begin on 1 November 2015 in the ACT.

While Tasmania has not formally introduced the rule, it did make some significant changes in February 2015 allowing vehicles to legally cross unbroken lines to overtake cyclists when safe. It recommends vehicles leave a safe distance in line with the 'One Metre Rule'.

NSW recommends vehicles leave the 'One Metre Rule' distances, but has not made it a legal requirement. However, the rule is being reviewed.

Bicycle NSW said this week it strongly supports the introduction of a minimum passing distance in the state and hopes to see an outcome from the NSW's Minister's Round Table on Cycling Safety and Compliance.

“While we recognise that “A Metre Matters” is not a silver bullet, it does raise the awareness of rider safety in the minds of vehicle drivers,” the cycling organisation said.

“The Queensland trial of this legislation has clearly shown this.”

The movement toward introducing a defined safe passing distance is a major win for cycling safety lobby group The Amy Gillet Foundation, which has worked tirelessly with its 'A metre matters' campaign to have a safe passing distance introduced across the country.

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