Cycling groups have been left disappointed by a Victorian government decision to delay making the safe passing distance of one metre an official law.
NSW motorists risk a fine if they do not leave a metre when passing a cyclist on the road, but it has remained just a recommendation south of the border, despite a five-year campaign pushing for the change.
The Victoria government has instead said it would undertake an education campaign around the one-metre safe passing distance and consider creating a law only if the campaign was not effective after a year.
RoadSafe North East member Robbie Allen said evidence discovered by the Amy Gillett Foundation’s “a metre matters” campaign already supported introducing the law.
“They don’t really need to go through this process of seeing if education works, it’s all been done,” he said.
“All the other states in Australia have either legislated or they’re doing trials.”
RSNE acknowledged a potential law would be more about safety awareness because police would find it hard to prove a motorist was within one metre of a cyclist.
“Very few people will get fined for it,” Mr Allen said.
“If someone hits a cyclist, there’s legislation there to say that’s against the law to do that.”
He said motorists were more likely to pay attention to a law, rather than just a warning.
“We’ve had a motoring community that have been a bit anti-cyclist so they think going a little close is a little bit smart and funny – it’s too dangerous,” he said.
“I think ‘a metre matters’ just gives the police a little bit more power to warn or to book people who do the wrong thing.”
Amy Gillett Foundation chief executive Phoebe Dunn committed to keep working with the Victorian government.
“We will work tirelessly to ensure this campaign is both appropriately resourced and independently evaluated in the interests of cycling safety,” she said.
The issue hit home on Friday when a cyclist died after colliding with a car on Benalla-Yarrawonga Road.
Mr Allen usually rides that same route with a group each Friday morning.
“I’m going to encourage people to keep off that road now, we’ve always identified it as a dangerous road,” he said.
“It’s narrow; there’s no shoulders; there’s lots of cars, boats, caravans, trucks – it’s not a good road to ride on.”