FINALLY enacting a one-metre passing rule about cyclists is a big step, but there was still a lot of work to make it effective, safe cycling advocate Simon Gillett says.
Victoria's new Road Safety Minister Ben Carroll declared on Wednesday the law would come into effect early next year.
This follows a decade-long cycle safety campaign, led by the Amy Gillett Foundation, to bring Victorian road laws in line with the rest of the nation.
Victoria is the final state to update the road rule, having instead in the past rejected the law in favour of pushing public safety awareness. The move by Minister Carroll will make a one-metre passing of cyclists a national law.
Buninyong-based Simon Gillett, who created the foundation in his wife's memory, said the legislation was welcome news but it was a shame political factions had hindered progress for so long.
Mr Gillett said the move still required cyclists to earn respect on the roads and that it was vital for law enforcement to follow through when there were motorist infractions.
"When every state introduced the prospect, it created huge debate, for and against, the law. That in itself is a good thing - how many other road laws change without many realising," Mr Gillett said. "Once the law is enacted, it's law and we hope now people take notice and it does matter."
The new law was welcomed by Ballarat professional cyclist and former child road safety Let's Ride ambassador Liam White.
He said all road users had a responsibility to do the right thing and look out for each other and this rule helped promote a mutual understanding that everyone on the road had a family to go home to.
"This is a massive thing for cyclists Victoria-wide," Mr White said. "It's a good day for the Amy Gillett Foundation, which has been campaigning long and hard, and it's a good day for cyclists."
This rule will require drivers on Victorian roads:
- to leave a one-metre minimum distance when passing a cyclist in speed zones 60km/h or lower.
- this increases to a 1.5-metre minimum passing distance on roads with speed limits exceeding 60kmh.
The announcement comes in a $13 million government investment in temporary bike lanes in inner-metropolitan suburbs.
Amy Gillett's mum Mary Safe was emotional in receiving the news via a video call the foundation later made public. Ms Safe said she knows this legislation will save lives in Victoria.
"It's been a long time coming for people who have worked so, so hard," Ms Safe said. "There is so much emotion there, to hear that news, but also relief."
Monash University senior researcher and Amy Gillett Foundation policy manager Marilyn Johnson said the Victorian move was important in road safety for cyclists and drivers.
The original road rule was vague and didn't provide drivers with any guidance. Now it's consistent nationally.Marily Johnson, Amy Gillett Foundation policy adviser
"The original road rule was vague and didn't provide drivers with any guidance," Dr Johnson said. "...Now we know the minimum space to give when we drive passed a cyclist, it's consistent nationally and will provide a safe space around everyone riding every kind of bike on every road."
South Australia was the first state to amend the passing law in October 2015.
The Amy Gillett Foundation launched the A Metre Matters campaign in 2009 to both reduce motorists' crashes with cyclists and to cyclists a safe space on all roads.
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