NEW road laws have come into effect earlier this week with drivers to allow more room for cyclists.
Commencing on April 26, the new laws require drivers to allow cyclists up to 1.5 metres in 60km/h speed zones and one metre distance in areas under 60km/h when passing.
Victorian Minister for Roads and Road Safety Ben Carroll said the new laws allow the roads to be utilised by both cyclists and motorists.
“This new rule provides a clear direction on how much space motorists should give cyclists when passing,” he said.
“We all share the roads and need to look out for one another.”
Victoria was the last state to pass minimum distance laws following a consultation period beginning in October 2020.
The new laws come as the Transport Accident Commission’s (TAC) latest available statistics show the hospitalisation of 25 cyclists occurring between June 2019 to June 2020 with three incidents resulting in stays above 14 days.
During this time only two hospitalisations took place after incidents occurring in the Surf Coast Shire.
TAC has further reported the death of one cyclist in the Greater Geelong region in the last 12 months, while no fatalities were recorded in the Surf Coast Shire.
Bike Safe founder and Cycling Safety advocate Barton Van Laar welcomed the introduction of the new legislation.
“Cyclists are the most vulnerable road users, there is no protection around them,” he said.
“This further development makes a big difference for safety of cyclists.”
Under new provisions motorists will be able to cross solid lines, double lines, painted tram lane lines and islands in order to pass cyclists at the lawful distance, providing it is safe to do so.
Mr Van Laar said allowing motorists to travel across these lines “makes an enormous difference” on narrow roads where allowing one metre distance would not be otherwise possible.
Despite supporting the changes to road laws, Mr Van Laar said more needs to be done.
“It will make it safer and have some impact in participation, but the reality is safer infrastructure is what motivates people to ride a bike,” he said.
“Bike lanes and or separates bike paths in Geelong is still unfortunately lagging behind many other cities in Australia and the world.
“The other part is that some of the lanes we do have are not up to Australian road standards and are poorly maintained.
“One per cent of people in Geelong commute to work or university in comparable cities that rate is around 5-10 per cent so we are well under what other cities have achieved.”
Violations to the new minimum passing laws will result in $330 spot fines or a maximum court penalty of $1,652 for those caught offending.
Improper overtaking or passing offences will also result in two demerit points.