Undercover cops to target motorists not giving space to cyclists

Lachlan Roberts 18 October 2019 183
Pedal Power ACT CEO Ian Ross and Detective Acting Station Sergeant Marcus Boorman

Pedal Power ACT CEO Ian Ross with Detective Acting Station Sergeant Marcus Boorman. Photo: Michelle Kroll, Region Media.

ACT police officers will don lycra and get on their bikes to target motorists who aren’t obeying the minimum passing laws when overtaking cyclists.

In the ACT, drivers are required to keep a minimum passing distance of 1 metre when overtaking a cyclist at under 60 km/h, with a distance of 1.5 metres required if a driver is overtaking at more than 60 km/h. Drivers who fail to comply with the law can receive a $292 fine and a loss of two demerit points.

ACT Policing has announced they will conduct compliance activity targeting motorists who don’t obey the law when passing cyclists on ACT roads.

Detective Acting Station Sergeant Marcus Boorman said ACT Policing had focused on an educational approach since the laws came into effect but in the coming weeks they will “proactively enforce” the law.

“The upcoming activity will see police actively target the minority of motorists that are not doing the right thing,” Sergeant Boorman said.

“Canberra: you are on notice. The next cyclist you drive past could be a police officer, and fines and demerit points may be issued if you do not leave enough room.

“Officers will not be in police uniform, so they will look like any other cyclist.”

The ACT’s minimum passing laws were introduced in 2015 on a trial basis and were permanently implemented last year. During the two-year trial, only 11 motorists were issued with a traffic infringement notice or caution for not obeying the laws.

Hardly a 1.5 metre gap.

Pedal Power ACT CEO Ian Ross said it is a “truly terrifying experience” when cars pass too close. Photo: Kate Smith.

An ACT Government study, which was released in May, found that the majority of ACT drivers obey the minimum passing rules when overtaking cyclists on the road, with over 16,400 overtaking vehicles recorded during a four week period in 2018.

The study, which was undertaken by the University of Adelaide’s Centre for Automotive Safety Research, found 97.3 per cent of motorists kept a one-metre distance when the speed limit was below 60 km/h, while 88.8 per cent of drivers on roads with a speed limit above 60 km/h kept a distance of 1.5 metres.

Sergeant Boorman said more than one-in-ten motorists not obeying the 1.5-metre passing distance was not good enough.

“It is about everybody doing the best they can to promote road safety in the ACT,” he said. “If you are unsure, slow down, take those couple of seconds and leave plenty of room.”

Even though they will be dressed as cyclists, Sergeant Boorman also said his officers will not turn a blind eye to their fellow road users who do the wrong thing.

“I can assure you that while we are conducting this operation, if we see any cyclists that are not doing the right thing there will be consequences,” he said.

Pedal Power ACT chief Ian Ross welcomed the ACT Policing’s enforcement campaign, which is believed to be an Australian first. He said he hopes it will be as successful as similar campaigns in the UK which saw a 20 per cent reduction in cycling deaths and serious accidents.

“You can feel the wind and the suck of a car as it moves past you and you can get buffeted on the road,” Mr Ross shared. “It is a truly terrifying experience.

“Having police enforce the minimum passing distance laws is important not just for the people who are already riding, but to encourage more people to take up cycling for transport and recreation. We want everybody to feel safe and be safe when riding on our roads.”

To provide space on narrow roads, motorists are allowed to cross or straddle the centre lines, provided the driver has a clear view of any approaching traffic and that it is safe to do so. If it is not safe to pass, drivers must wait behind the cyclist.

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183 Responses to Undercover cops to target motorists not giving space to cyclists
rationalobserver rationalobserver 8:44 am 11 Feb 21

There are the laws of the road, and then there are the laws of physics.
Only a fool voluntarily puts themselves in harms way knowing the risks, and then complains about the outcome.

Judy Ryan Judy Ryan 5:20 pm 24 Oct 19

I hope the police pushbike riders will have audible bells on their bikes and rear vision mirrors. They also should have identifiable number plates because they are on the road. It is the law that all vehicles have number plates. As pushbikes are classed as vehicles they should have numberplates also. They cannot be both a vehicle and a protected , unidentifiable species. Before self-government there were no bike paths on the road and we were a safer and happier community.

    BlowMeDown BlowMeDown 7:31 am 25 Oct 19

    And more importantly, both third party and comprehensive insurance cover.

    carnardly carnardly 9:44 am 11 Feb 21

    Actually, that’s not correct.

    Vehicles include bicycles, animal driven vehicles (ie such as horse and carriage), a ridden animal and motorised wheelchair.

    None of these vehicles are required to have number plates.

jibril jibril 9:46 am 23 Oct 19

To everyone demanding that cyclists pay rego:

1. Your rego doesn’t pay for roads, your taxes do

2. The majority of cyclists own a car, so they do pay rego. The difference is that they’re not clogging up the roads and air by driving.

    BlowMeDown BlowMeDown 7:29 am 25 Oct 19

    To be specific, the fuel excise pays for the roads, in which case if you’re not driving a vehicle that runs on petroleum then you aren’t paying for the roads. If your car or truck is at home in the garage then you aren’t paying for the roads.

    Ctl_Alt_Del Ctl_Alt_Del 9:56 am 25 Oct 19

    The hate towards bike riders is ridiculous. I ride a bike to work. I also own a car. I pay taxes. I ride for exercise and to keep at least one car off the road and bc parking fees in Canberra are expensive. I have also had very little problem with car drivers. They have for the most part been very courteous. Let’s just get along people!

    rationalobserver rationalobserver 8:37 am 11 Feb 21

    That “car at home” argument makes me laugh every time it gets trotted out.
    I could say the same about my motorcycle, but I still need to register and CTP insure it.

MJ Elliott MJ Elliott 4:15 pm 20 Oct 19

Great use of resources. NOT

Michael Caldwell Michael Caldwell 8:36 am 20 Oct 19

Only in the ACT. Wow. Surely police have better things to do.

Adam Robbo Adam Robbo 6:44 am 20 Oct 19

you mean cyclists not giving motorist enough room....

Milan Vukoja Milan Vukoja 1:42 am 20 Oct 19

Cyclists using the road should not be discriminated against, just the same as all other road users, cyclists should pay approx. $900 per annum to be registered to travel on our public roads (paid for by vehicle registrations)..

    Paul Casimir Paul Casimir 8:35 am 20 Oct 19

    Except that your premise is wrong. Rego doesn't pay for roads, rates and taxes do.

    Milan Vukoja Milan Vukoja 8:53 am 20 Oct 19

    Noted. but registration for all forms of vehicles using roads is still required, cyclists “vehicles” too.. fees paid (vehicle inspection/roadworthy, TAC, other applicable), rego plates attached, able to be picked up by traffic cameras at intersections, identifiable to other road users, etc. and ensuring safe/correct “vehicle” condition (roadworthy condition, visibility to other road users, signalling/lights for night travelling)..

    Paul Casimir Paul Casimir 9:05 am 20 Oct 19

    Milan Vukoja it’s been considered and rejected by governments across Australia and around the world as being an unworkable, expensive non-solution to a trivial problem. If you want to know why, read the 2013 report of the Queensland Parliamentary Transport Committee.

Milan Vukoja Milan Vukoja 1:38 am 20 Oct 19

Cops.. hard up for cash..

Glen Lewis Glen Lewis 10:41 pm 19 Oct 19

Here come the hippies, you vote the greens into "power" . Accept the results.

James Alan Nguyen James Alan Nguyen 12:23 pm 19 Oct 19

getting paid to roam around in a bicycle and getting all the health benefits at the cost of ratepayers. living the dream!

Les Eite Les Eite 11:30 am 19 Oct 19

I hope the police are going to do the same thing on bike paths with people walking because cyclists don’t slow down it’s happened to me quite a lot

Bert McMahon Bert McMahon 10:17 am 19 Oct 19

Wow, taxpayer dollars being utilised to the Nth degree...... 😂

David Brown David Brown 9:47 am 19 Oct 19

Just another thought. I wonder how the policeman will measure the distance? If it is an estimate, will that hold up in court?

    Paul Casimir Paul Casimir 10:03 am 19 Oct 19

    David Brown video evidence is compelling. All they have to prove is that you didn’t provide the mandatory minimum distance. They don’t have to prove exactly what distance you left.

    It’s easy to tell the difference between 50 cms and 150 cms.

    David Brown David Brown 11:58 am 19 Oct 19

    Paul Casimir I have been a photographer for more than 50 years. Among other things that I have learnt is that the focal length of the lens greatly influences the apparent proximity of the object in view.

    Paul Casimir Paul Casimir 1:17 pm 19 Oct 19

    David Brown two objects next to each other ie at the same distance from the lens - the error will be trivial. You can get a sense of the distance by reference to fixed dimensions eg the diameter of the car's wheel, or by looking at whether the car crosses the lane (and, if so, by how much).

    As I said, it's not hard to spot people who grossly infringe the law. I doubt that anything marginal would be prosecuted. Certainly it's been my experience dealing with the AFP that they will only prosecute when the video evidence is undeniable.

    Bill Mulger Bill Mulger 3:29 pm 19 Oct 19

    Apart from video evidence there's also an ultrasound based system that will provide a number

    David Brown David Brown 5:06 pm 19 Oct 19

    Paul Casimir Using the expression “sense of” goes back to my comment. Will an estimate stand up in court? I don’t know. I imagine you don’t either. Time will tell.

    Paul Casimir Paul Casimir 8:40 am 20 Oct 19

    David Brown I do know, because it has happened already. People have already been convicted in court based on video evidence.

    As I said, there may be some doubt when it's a matter of a few centimeters, but many cases are absolutely unarguable.

David Brown David Brown 9:46 am 19 Oct 19

I hope he can peddle really quickly so he can issue me an infringement.

    Luckylegs Chris Luckylegs Chris 9:56 am 19 Oct 19

    David Brown he will most likely have front and rear cycliq bike cameras. No need to chase you down they will just send you the infringement notice.

    Bill Mulger Bill Mulger 3:26 pm 19 Oct 19

    Well done for admitting intent

Megan Baker-Goldsmith Megan Baker-Goldsmith 9:18 am 19 Oct 19

I look forward to seeing ACT policing members out on their bikes. If they’d like to pick up their quota of fines quickly, they can just pedal up and down Northbourne ave in peak hour where the truck drivers often pass way too close. Also ride along any action bus route, the bus drivers appear to have all been terribly lied to by their boyfriends about what 1metre actually looks like.

actcyclist actcyclist 6:52 am 19 Oct 19

Looking at the comments on here, what a load of nasty, angry people, I miss the days when your average Australian was chilled, they increasingly seem like uptight, whingers and busybodys.

    rationalobserver rationalobserver 7:48 pm 19 Oct 19

    I agree, but I’m pretty sure that was before lycra became a thing.

    BlowMeDown BlowMeDown 7:41 am 25 Oct 19

    Back when governments and bike riders had common sense rather than belligerent entitlement.

Nathan Stack Nathan Stack 4:19 am 19 Oct 19

I don't mind this, but it has to work both ways, not simply "cars are bad mkay"

    Nathan Stack Nathan Stack 12:54 pm 19 Oct 19

    No I did

    Question thou

    First person to ark up

    Do u ride bikes

    Corey Lillie Corey Lillie 6:07 pm 19 Oct 19

    Blake Rose ever cut one off they are some deadly tights coming at you

    Blake Rose Blake Rose 6:10 pm 19 Oct 19

    I’ve actually cleaned one up at round about on Ginny drive😂😂😂

Angela Thomas Angela Thomas 1:02 am 19 Oct 19

Is that all they have to worry about? That and mean tweets, blimey!

    Stuart Brogan Stuart Brogan 8:59 am 19 Oct 19

    Angela Thomas having been deliberately run off the road recently on my ride to work, this is something I worry about .

    Angela Thomas Angela Thomas 4:12 pm 19 Oct 19

    Stuart Brogan you didnt use a cycle path?

Alex Elliott Alex Elliott 12:14 am 19 Oct 19

Cars have to keep a 1 metre gap from the bike. Bikes also need to keep that same gap and not encroach on the traffic forcing cars to move away even more.

    Cy Norman Cy Norman 2:18 am 19 Oct 19

    Alex Elliott Very wrong buddy. Bicycles are entitled to take whatever space in the lane they require to feel safe (unless there is a separate bike lane). So if we want to take the lane we will. And you will have give us the lawful distance when passing. Time to read & understand the road rules again for you little man.

Margaret Freemantle Margaret Freemantle 11:50 pm 18 Oct 19

I hope a few cyclists get booked. Under freedom of information, I would love to know the stats on cyclists who have been fined. They break the rules often enough!!

    Eoin Wotkinz Eoin Wotkinz 1:42 am 19 Oct 19

    Margaret Freemantle do they Margaret? Do they?

    Debbie Thomsen Debbie Thomsen 3:35 am 19 Oct 19

    Margaret Freemantle oh dear, but did they endanger lives?? Examples, please.

    Peter Signorini Peter Signorini 7:22 am 19 Oct 19

    Margaret Freemantle please tell me all about the many deaths caused by all these alleged bicycle law-breakers? Or just give me, say, 3-4 actual cases in the past 5 years in the ACT❓🤔

    Stuart Brogan Stuart Brogan 8:30 am 19 Oct 19

    Addrienne Adamson like motorists, both break the rules, unlike motorists, cyclists don't kill.

    Stuart Brogan Stuart Brogan 8:31 am 19 Oct 19

    Peter Signorini none in the last 10 years perhaps.

    Stuart Brogan Stuart Brogan 8:32 am 19 Oct 19

    Euan Buchanan she is just another hypocrite.

    Megan Baker-Goldsmith Megan Baker-Goldsmith 9:06 am 19 Oct 19

    Margaret Freemantle “cyclists booked under freedom of information” 😂😂😂

    For what? Carrying documents in their panniers?

    Margaret Freemantle Margaret Freemantle 10:00 am 19 Oct 19

    Peter Signorini try driving along Forbes st. The police and ambulance there this week. Bike riders coming from the ANU, a narrow street, all over the road regularly, black jackets, no helmets- there will be a death and someone will have to live with the guilt.

    Margaret Freemantle Margaret Freemantle 10:03 am 19 Oct 19

    Eoin Wotkinz they do. Red lights mean nothing and nor do orderly lines or lanes. And I have witnessed them ignoring stop signs near construction sites- just plain ignorant

    Stuart Brogan Stuart Brogan 10:54 am 19 Oct 19

    Margaret Freemantle On the Gold coast it is simmilar, but the uber delivery riders and tourists. There is only 2 countries in the world with helmet laws, so could be a lot of foreign students.

    The reason is that helmets are not that effective, and the argument for helmets can equally be applied to motor vehicles, although modern cars with air bags serve the same purpose.

    The introduction of helmet laws in Australia saw a dramatic drop in the numbers of people cycling as the law was sold on the danger of cars and trucks. The consequence, actually more people have died due to health issues.

    Euan Buchanan Euan Buchanan 12:06 pm 19 Oct 19

    Margaret Freemantle Studies suggest that cyclists break the law far less than car drivers.



    Stuart Brogan Stuart Brogan 12:36 pm 19 Oct 19

    Mathew Mendo there was a truck driver charged this year, and of course the famous one of the guy that murdered a cyclists after anti cycling posts and nearly hitting another. He is doing jail time if course.

    Peter Signorini Peter Signorini 4:05 pm 19 Oct 19

    Mathew Mendo I do not know about ACT data, but there have been 8 deaths of cyclists in Victoria so far this year. On the pattern of fault 6 of those at least will be the driver at-fault. In 2017 there were 12 cyclists killed and 10 of those were directly caused by drivers. One of the riders killed was a good mate of mine. Nationally drivers kill 1200 people annually!

    Meantime the last death (of a pedestrian) caused by an at-fault rider was in 2006. Before that it was about 1973. I am not aware of a single motor-vehicle occupant killed by a bicycle rider.

    So basically, such claims about the “dangerous cyclists” are shit❗️

    Peter McDonald Peter McDonald 4:14 pm 19 Oct 19

    Stuart Brogan cyclist get killed by not looking out for their own safety.

    Peter Signorini Peter Signorini 4:55 pm 19 Oct 19

    Peter McDonald what utter shite! The classic victim-blame line. I guess you will blame you daughter and not the rapist when she gets done over at a night out when wearing fancy clothes❓

    Stuart Brogan Stuart Brogan 5:58 pm 19 Oct 19

    Peter McDonald yes, but not common, see post above or check out the UniSA study for the Automobile Association of Australia Study, motorists at fault 79% of the time.

    Margaret Freemantle Margaret Freemantle 8:33 pm 19 Oct 19

    Euan Buchanan doubt this!! In Australia, cyclists aren’t monitored- can you please provide stats on how many cyclists have been charged?

    Phil Mcdonald Phil Mcdonald 10:00 pm 19 Oct 19

    Debbie Thomsen nearly lost a two year old to a peanut cyclist, flying along on the footpath. Didnt even hear him coming..

    Phil Mcdonald Phil Mcdonald 10:06 pm 19 Oct 19

    Peter Signorini Who mentioned deaths? Arrogant cyclists want the road, the bike paths and the footpaths. Im constantly dodging them while driving and then nearly being hit by them on the lakes paths as im walking with the family.. They certainly dont feel the need to give distance or slow when passing pedestrians, even with small kids...

    Margaret Freemantle Margaret Freemantle 10:11 pm 19 Oct 19

    Phil Mcdonald so true. They ride around the lake and the majority have no respect for pedestrians and no bells. Just once, I would like to see them pulled up!

    Phil Mcdonald Phil Mcdonald 10:16 am 20 Oct 19

    Peter Signorini ,Mate once again i dont follow your logic and your comparative example really doesnt fit what i think you are trying to say. Perhaps you need to remove your lycra and your head from your arse and go for a walk around one of the Canberra lakes..

    Paul Casimir Paul Casimir 10:30 am 20 Oct 19

    Margaret Freemantle if you want data about cyclists being 'monitored' I suggest you get that from the AFP. But if you think cyclists aren't booked by police then just google 'operation pedro'.

    Paul Casimir Paul Casimir 10:31 am 20 Oct 19

    Phil Mcdonald generalizing much?

    Peter Signorini Peter Signorini 4:55 pm 22 Oct 19

    Phil Mcdonald road deaths, and injuries, are the key indicator of "risk". People on bicycles are a minimal risk of harm to others. The greatest risk, by a quantum leap, on our roads and footpaths are the drivers of motor vehicles. But in the nature of your "othering" this is simply brushed away 🙄😒

    Peter Signorini Peter Signorini 4:57 pm 22 Oct 19

    Phil Mcdonald oh great line of argument there. With the ad hominem comes the admisson of failure.

    Michael Smoush Michael Smoush 8:05 pm 22 Oct 19

    I have lost track of the amount of times a muppet brained cyclist nearly cleaned me up on paths because of their gross stupidity on not ringing a bell to let people know they are coming. They seem to think it is hilarious.

    Debbie Thomsen Debbie Thomsen 8:06 am 23 Oct 19

    Phil Mcdonald Maybe the "supervising adult" wasn't supervising properly? It is a SHARED PATH after all, so bloody share it then and share the responsibility too!

    Euan Buchanan Euan Buchanan 9:07 pm 25 Oct 19

    Margaret Freemantle No, can you?

    I can tell you which mode of transport is responsible for over 1,000 fatalities and over 10,000 serious injuries each year, and it isn't cycling. I'm in no doubt about that.

    Euan Buchanan Euan Buchanan 9:11 pm 25 Oct 19

    Phil Mcdonald "Phil Mcdonald Peter Signorini never once have i nearly been knocked over by a car driving on the footpath or a bicycle path.. Pete you are living proof that you dont need a long neck to be a goose!!"

    And you are living proof of a failure to draw distinction between personal experience and authoritative statistics. Over a thousand people don't "nearly" die because of cars, they DIE! Dead, Never to walk this earth again.

    You, "nearly lost a two year old to a peanut cyclist."

    David Thomas David Thomas 9:17 pm 25 Oct 19

    Phil Mcdonald Really? I have. And I know of 3 cycling fatalities on bike PATHS... not lanes. through being hit by cars

    Peter Signorini Peter Signorini 9:54 pm 25 Oct 19

    Phil Mcdonald maybe you should check the road toll data then. Several hundred people are killed annually in Australia, and hundreds more injured. By motor vehicles. While walking. Often enough these deaths occur while they are walking on-the-footpath even!

    And the ad-hominem continues. Further admission of you failure to present any case. Failed line of argument.

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