State government announces legislation for minimum distance when passing cyclists

A metre matters: Simon Gillett, Amy Gillett Foundation CEO Phoebe Dunn, Richie Porte and Louise Padgett. Picture: Scott Gelston
A metre matters: Simon Gillett, Amy Gillett Foundation CEO Phoebe Dunn, Richie Porte and Louise Padgett. Picture: Scott Gelston

An announcement by Minister for Infrastructure Rene Hidding that minimum distances for overtaking cyclists will be enacted as law has been warmly welcomed by the Tasmanian cycling fraternity.

Mr Hidding welcomed the Amy Gillett Foundation’s chief executive officer Phoebe Dunn to the announcement, as well as Louise Padgett and Amy Gillett’s husband Simon Gillett.

Making reference to the crash that cost Amy Gillett her life, Mr Hidding said the Amy Gillett Foundation’s ‘A Metre Matters’ campaign had been “a driver” in raising awareness of cycling safety across Australia.

He also credited Liberal Member for Bass Sarah Courtney for her strong support of the changes.

“We can implement the laws in Tasmania, and that follows two years of heavy marketing to change the culture,” Mr Hidding said.

He said the laws will be changed in the first half of 2017 to require motorists to maintain a minimum distance of one metre when overtaking cyclists in 60 km/h or lower speed zones, and one and a half metres when overtaking cyclists in speed zones greater than 60 km/h.

Cycling Tasmania executive officer Collin Burns welcomed the announcement as “a real game changer”.

The announcement was made at City Park on Sunday, as riders raced through the Launceston Cycling Classic.

Mr Burns said it was almost three years since the campaign began to introduce one-metre passing laws to Tasmania, with one law allowing drivers to cross centre lines to pass cyclists already enacted.

“We initiated the ‘A Metre Matters’ petition here in Tasmania, and Richie Porte was our ambassador,” Mr Burns said.

“He went to the nationals and got all the national riders to sign up, and we got 30,000 signatures.

“To me, a fantastic day, a bit of an emotional day.”

Richie Porte and Louise Padgett likewise welcomed the announcement as ensuring the safety of cyclists in the future.

“The message is not just for cyclists, it’s for motorists as well – it’s a shared thing, cyclists need to respect the rules as well as motorists,” Mr Porte said.

“I think moving forward it’s fantastic the state government has taken the initiative and we have these rules in place to protect not just cyclists, but other road users too.”

Amy Gillett Foundation CEO Phoebe Dunn said the ‘A Metre Matters’ campaign has been proven to save lives.

“This is an announcement that will make a real difference for cycling safety in Tasmania,” she said.