Undercover cops to target motorists not giving space to cyclists

Lachlan Roberts 18 October 2019 195
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.

Share the Road

Do you know how to safely overtake a cyclist?Be patient and leave at least 1 metre distance when passing at 60km/h or less or 1.5 meters for speeds over 60km/h. Remember if you’re unsure, leave more!To learn more about your responsibilities on the road visit: goo.gl/VTSUqN#ShareTheRoad #UnsureLeaveMore

Posted by ACT Policing on Thursday, 23 August 2018

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195 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.

Michael Choppy Elliott Michael Choppy 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 Robinson Adam Robinson 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

Ian Phillips Ian Phillips 9:45 am 19 Oct 19

Love it!!

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.

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