NEW safe passing distance rules will do little to improve the relationship between motorists and cyclists, a local cycling club president says.
From November 30, drivers overtaking a cyclist must keep a 1m gap between their car and those on a bike while on a road with a speed limit up to 60km/h.
A 1.5m gap will be needed on roads with a speed limit over 60km/h.
Melville Fremantle Cycling Club president Russell Miller said the new rules were long overdue, with the relationship between cyclists and motorists as bad as he had seen in 50 years.
But he does not believe all will suddenly be rosy between drivers and cyclists.
“(The rules) shouldn’t even be necessary and wouldn’t be if both parties respected each other,” he said.
“I think they’re adequate but it doesn’t mean the situation will necessarily change.”
The penalty for drivers who break the new law is a $400 fine and four demerit points.
Mr Miller said enforcement would be difficult unless motorists or cyclists come forward with video footage.
Atwell cyclist Mark Pearmine, a truck driver for 27 years, said some “headway was being made”.
“You can imagine the arguments I’ve had with my truck driver friends,” he said.
“I do feel we’re making headway. People are more tolerating (of cyclists) and a lot better to get along with.
“With the new laws, every little bit helps.”Road Safety Minister Michelle Roberts said seven cyclists had been killed on WA roads this year.
“Cyclists are among our most vulnerable road users and these new rules are designed to provide greater protection and hopefully reduce the number of serious injuries and deaths,” she said.
WestCycle chairman Neil Hackett said the rules sent a “clear message” cyclists have a right to be on the road.
“This will make cycling in Western Australia a safer activity,” he said.
Bicycling Western Australia chief executive Debra Graham said the law provided clarity for riders and drivers.
“Both parties should aim to do the right thing,” she said.
A spokeswoman for Main Roads WA said the safety initiative does not currently require any alteration to existing roads.
City of Melville’s acting chief executive Christine Young confirmed the new rules were not expected to impact road design, but instead the way drivers consider bike riders.
“The key here is that we don’t need to change roads, we need to change behaviours,” she said.
“A person on a bike is classified as a vehicle on the road under the Road Traffic Code 2000 and the new legislation provides clearer guidance about how much space drivers need to give to bike riders to be safe.”
Jandakot MLA Yaz Mubarakai said the new rules reflected a common sense approach promoting mutual respect between all road users.
A public awareness campaign will run to ensure drivers and other road users were aware of the new laws.
The new rules will be monitored by the Road Safety Commission, with a report provided to the Minister after two years.