Depending on who you ask, bicycles are either bona fide vehicles that deserve equal road rights, or a colossal pain in the arse that should be relegated to the footpath. Here's some news that is sure to rile up people in the second camp: police in South Australia have started fining motorists who pass cyclists too closely. Under the new laws, a gap of one metre or less can result in a $347 fine and the loss of two demerit points. We're keen to read your thoughts.
Bike image from Shutterstock
As reported by ABC News, motorists who pass cyclists by less than a metre are now being targeted by SA traffic authorities. The rules have been in effect since last October, but police have warned that the "three-month education phase" is now over. Instead of being issued a warning, motorists will now be slugged with an on-the-spot fine of $347 (this includes a $60 'victims of crime' levy.)
Under the new rules, motorists are required to leave a minimum one-metre gap when overtaking cyclists at speeds of 60km/h or under. When travelling above 60km/h, the minimum gap widens to 1.5 metres.
We don't want to come down too hard on a road safety law that could potentially save lives... but we can't help but feel that this particular rule is poorly thought out.
For example, what happens when you're on a narrow stretch of road, as are commonly found in most Australian neighbourhoods? Are you supposed to potter behind them until the road widens up? (Personally, I'd be more put off by a car rumbling at my backside than attempting to overtake, but that's just me.)
Also, what happens when traffic slows to a crawl and the cyclist decides to lane filter? Technically, you're not passing the bicycle in these situations, but what about when the traffic speeds up again? Are you supposed to remain stationary until the bicycle is in the distance? There seems to be a lot of grey areas here that could lead to unfair fines.
We're interested in what you guys think about all this. Do you think this new law is fair to motorists? Would you like to see it introduced in other states? If you're a cyclist, will it make you feel safer? Share your opinions in the comments section below.