A METRE MATTERS
The Amy Gillett Foundation’s a metre matters campaign, launched in November 2009 on the steps of New Parliament House, is based around a simple premise – drivers not hitting bicycle riders.
The message of the campaign is that when overtaking bicycle riders, drivers need to allow a minimum overtaking distance of one metre. The minimum overtaking distance is a simple, common sense measure to give bike riders a safe space.
The genesis of the campaign arose from an Amy Gillett Foundation research project, and in particular, a report from the Australian Transport Safety Bureau that found being hit from behind was the crash type that resulted in the highest number of bicycle rider fatalities.
You can find out more about the minimum over taking distance and the Amy Gillett Foundation’s position, rationale and the evidence in this document.
A national update on a metre matters and the current status in each state and territory can be found in this document.
In some state and territories drivers are required to allow sufficient overtaking distance when passing a bicycle rider. Sufficient is an inadequate and unclear instruction that has repeatedly not protected bicycle riders. Legislative amendment, with appropriate education and enforcement, to mandate a minimum overtaking distance when drivers pass bicycle riders is currently the single most important action needed to reduce bicycle rider fatalities.
Launched at the 2014 Cycling Australia Road National Championships by Richie Porte and sponsored by Cycling Tasmania, a petition calling upon the Australian Government to amend the Australian Road Rules began. In total, the petition was supported by nearly 30,000 signatures and submitted to the Australian Government.
Since then the Amy Gillett Foundation’s a metre matters campaign has spearheaded the national effort for state and territory governments to amend road rules to specify minimum distances for overtaking bike riders.
The Queensland Government introduced a two-year trial minimum overtaking distance trial, which began in April 2014, which requires motorists to leave a minimum of one metre when overtaking bike riders at speeds of up to 60km/h and 1.5 metres at speeds over 60km/h.
On 25 October 2015, South Australia became the first Australian state or territory to mandate the minimum overtaking distance, as part of a range of safe cycling measures implemented following recommendations by a Citizens’ Jury. The amended laws require road users to allow at least a one metre gap on roads with speed limits of up to 60km/h, and 1.5 metres for anything above that speed. The introduction was supported by an extensive education campaign led by the Motor Accident Commission.
In the ACT, a two year trial of the minimum overtaking distance started on 1 November 2015. Drivers have to provide a minimum distance of 1 metre when overtaking a bike rider in speed zones at or below 60km/h and 1.5 metres in speed zones above 60km/h. To support the amended road rules drivers are allowed to cross centre lines, straddle lane-lines and drive on painted islands, provided that the driver has a clear view of any approaching traffic and that it is safe to do so. An awareness campaign to educate road users about these changes and ensure everyone understands the new rules was introduced to support the changes.
In Tasmania, a law allowing motorists to cross centre lines to overtake bike riders has been passed.
On March 1 2016, the NSW Government commenced a trial of the minimum overtaking distance as part of its Go Together campaign.
Our efforts continue in Northern Territory, Victoria and Western Australia to amend safe overtaking distance road rules as we strive to make bike riding safer across Australia.