NEW WA laws protecting cyclists from cars overtaking too close are now in effect and drivers should not expect any grace from police, with hefty fines for those who break the new rules.
Asked if there would be a period of leniency before fines would be issued, similar to the approach taken when mobile telephone usage in cars was banned, Acting Road Safety Commissioner Iain Cameron said an education campaign had already been in place for three weeks.
“From November 30, a driver of a motor vehicle must pass a bicycle travelling in the same direction at a safe distance, being 1m on roads where the posted speed limit is 60km/h or less, 1.5m on roads where the posted speed limit is more than 60km/h,” Mr Cameron said.
“Where there has been a clear breach of the law, WA Police will issue the appropriate sanction as they are responsible for enforcement.”
Police could also use footage of incidents taken from dashcams or a cyclist’s head camera as evidence to prosecute drivers and would take action to patrol complaint hot spots.
A WA Police spokeswoman said the new rules removed any ambiguity about proper behaviour and distance for motorists and cyclists. She said sanctions would be issued when there was clear and legally admissible evidence of a breach.
Cyclist groups in pelotons would not be excused and would continue to be fined for going beyond two-abreast.
“Cyclists need to adhere to Part 15 of the Traffic Code 2000, and they can ride two side-by-side on the road, with up to 1.5m between riders, but failure to comply remains a $50 fine,” Mr Cameron said.
Critics of the new laws have said many roads, including parts of Stirling, Canning and West Coast highways, and the Fremantle traffic bridge, are not wide enough, or are often too congested, to allow for cyclists, the new gap and large vehicles.
Mr Cameron said drivers should use “patience and common sense”.
WA’S NEW SAFE PASSING LAW
From Thursday, November 30:
– Cars in 60kmh or less zones overtake bicycles by more than 1m
-Cars in zones greater than 60kmh must pass by at least 1.5m
-The penalty for failing to pass correctly is a $400 fine and four demerit points
-Peloton cyclists can be fined $50 for riding more than two-abreast.
Source: Office of Road Safety.