The SCA Minimum Safe Passing Distances Survey

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Re: The SCA Minimum Safe Passing Distances Survey

Postby Philipthelam » Thu Jun 27, 2013 9:25 pm

sumgy wrote:I can just see all the extra police being put on to drive around with a metre ruler making sure that cars and bike do not get too close together.
Seriously??
1m?
That is like an outstretched arm.

Be aware this is not a rule that improves what happens if you get hit, it is a rule that supposedly enforces that another vehicle must give you an outstretched arm of space when passing. And given the lack of police resources for all of the other traffic violations that occur every day on our rules, I have to think it is a self policing rule (again a case of he said, she said).


I don't think it is so much the 1 metre or 1.5 or whatever that matters, it is the fact that something becomes the law/rule. This would mean that drivers will actually think about leaving some room when overtaking as opposed to just squeezing though. People can and will still break this overtaking rule just like there are many idiots on the road that run red lights.

Be aware this is not a rule that improves what happens if you get hit

If someone wishes to kill someone, they will kill them. When the dead man/women is lying in some grave somewhere, how does our laws regarding murder help improve what happens to the murdered victim?
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Re: The SCA Minimum Safe Passing Distances Survey

Postby sumgy » Thu Jun 27, 2013 9:33 pm

There is a rule that you cannot turn right across 2 lanes of traffic and through a bike lane taking out a cyclist too.
Did not stop exactly that happening 2 weeks ago when I was hit by a truck.

Look I see how it would seem to put some guidelines around how much distance is required around bicycles but if the cyclist is hit and is killed or injured I dont see how we have really "solved" anything. We still have somebody killed or quite probably severely injured like I was.
Most likely we also have an incredibly distressed driver too.
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Re: The SCA Minimum Safe Passing Distances Survey

Postby Howzat » Thu Jun 27, 2013 10:05 pm

Laws and regulation really do change driver behaviour. Most of it is education, part of it is enforcement. But yes, rules work.

Forty years ago people would think nothing of driving home from the pub, speeding was common and seatbelts weren't even fitted to cars. And the road toll was about four times higher than it is today. We fixed that with changes to the law, followed by education and enforcement.

It's important to have the minimum distance rule legislated. A minimum distance takes away the airy fairy, "I think you think" subjective judgement of what constitutes safe passing. And right now, it appears, you can run a cyclist over with your cement truck and still have a jury agree that it was a safe pass.
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Re: The SCA Minimum Safe Passing Distances Survey

Postby trailgumby » Thu Jun 27, 2013 10:16 pm

sumgy wrote:Look I see how it would seem to put some guidelines around how much distance is required around bicycles but if the cyclist is hit and is killed or injured I dont see how we have really "solved" anything. We still have somebody killed or quite probably severely injured like I was.
Most likely we also have an incredibly distressed driver too.

Bingo. And I understand and sympathise with your skepticism. I've been hit too.

But that doesn't mean we should have no rules / keep no laws. Rules and laws are meant to help restrain bad behaviour by attaching consequences and sanctions. And they help set expectations on behaviour. While a silver bullet they are not, they are a net benefit.

Do you wait until every traffic light is green to your destination before you roll your car out of the driveway? Of course not.

There will be issues and it won't be perfect. But will this law be an improvement? Without a doubt.
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Re: The SCA Minimum Safe Passing Distances Survey

Postby high_tea » Fri Jun 28, 2013 8:55 am

Howzat wrote:Laws and regulation really do change driver behaviour. Most of it is education, part of it is enforcement. But yes, rules work.

Forty years ago people would think nothing of driving home from the pub, speeding was common and seatbelts weren't even fitted to cars. And the road toll was about four times higher than it is today. We fixed that with changes to the law, followed by education and enforcement.

It's important to have the minimum distance rule legislated. A minimum distance takes away the airy fairy, "I think you think" subjective judgement of what constitutes safe passing. And right now, it appears, you can run a cyclist over with your cement truck and still have a jury agree that it was a safe pass.


Mmmm. As you point out, DUI and seatbelts worked because there was a lot more going on than a tweak to the Road Rules. There was promotion and enforcement, lots of it too. Point is, why is 1.5 (or whatever distance) easier to promote and enforce than the current law?

And, at the risk of repeating myself, the current standard isn't subjective, it's objective. Big difference.

Granted, the current road rule seems to be de facto interpreted as "no harm, no foul". But that's not what it says. The fact that this interpretation has become entrenched is an enforcement problem, not a problem with the legislation as such.
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Re: The SCA Minimum Safe Passing Distances Survey

Postby Xplora » Fri Jun 28, 2013 9:08 am

Taking away the greys does help with enforcement though. Given the nature of liability in traffic offences, it would help if there is a hit the same way any rear contact is assumed to be the fault of the rear vehicle. Police cannot brush it under the carpet as a driver error because the law is specifically there BECAUSE cyclists are vulnerable, not because they are scaredy cats. As I said before, no justification for speeding or red light running... Passing close, no justification because you have to wait for space. A couple meters of it.
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Re: The SCA Minimum Safe Passing Distances Survey

Postby sumgy » Fri Jun 28, 2013 9:22 am

high_tea wrote:
Granted, the current road rule seems to be de facto interpreted as "no harm, no foul". But that's not what it says. The fact that this interpretation has become entrenched is an enforcement problem, not a problem with the legislation as such.


And why wont the proposed law be treated the same?
Look, I dont want to see anyone hurt but unless the driver who gets within the metre actually hits the cyclist nothing is going to happen to them.
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Re: The SCA Minimum Safe Passing Distances Survey

Postby Xplora » Fri Jun 28, 2013 11:08 am

sumgy wrote:.... unless the driver who gets within the metre actually hits the cyclist nothing is going to happen to them.

I understand you're not feeling great about the law right now, but this law will reshape driver culture. It's unusual, and has better potential to be included in driving permit tests etc. If it is relevent to test how far from the kerb you are, it is certainly more relevent to test how dangerous you can be on the road.
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Re: The SCA Minimum Safe Passing Distances Survey

Postby sumgy » Fri Jun 28, 2013 11:33 am

Xplora wrote:
sumgy wrote:.... unless the driver who gets within the metre actually hits the cyclist nothing is going to happen to them.

I understand you're not feeling great about the law right now, but this law will reshape driver culture. It's unusual, and has better potential to be included in driving permit tests etc. If it is relevent to test how far from the kerb you are, it is certainly more relevent to test how dangerous you can be on the road.


It is not so much about how I feel about the law.
It is about the fact that I think that this is absolutely unpoliceable and if there is no change to the resultant penalty, then what is the point?
It is not the passing too close that has any penalty, it is the result should someone be knocked from their bike.
Currently the result is too lenient for the driver and this is what needs to be fixed.
But it is not just the penalties for cars vs cyclists that need overhaul.
We all know that people can get away with far too much these days.

But then again as I said previously I also feel for those drivers who really did just have a lapse of judgement.
The guy who hit me in his 7m long truck did not even know I had collided with the last metre of his truck until he heard my bike scraping along the ground after it got hooked up under his truck.
He then looked in his rear view mirror to see me lying on the road.
The 4 witnesses who attended my injuries (along with the truckie) all stated that they did not even really see me until I rolled past their car windows.
Last night on about 4 seperate occasions while riding home I had motor cycles come past my car while I was stopped at various traffic lights.
On all occasions the first I saw of them was as they rolled past me.

I also question how easily people will judge whether the left side of their car is a metre away from a cyclist whilst they are sitting on the right side of the car driving.
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Re: The SCA Minimum Safe Passing Distances Survey

Postby Xplora » Fri Jun 28, 2013 12:40 pm

Everything you just said supports the need for this change ^^

The current law is virtually unpoliceable because there is no penalty where there is no contact. Putting a specific number to it gives it teeth. It is then clear that the driver is responsible if the gap is closer, because it is assumed that cyclists can drift from the slipstream. Right now, if the driver allows a gap, and the rider is blown, they can legitimately blame the conditions. It also provides an understanding for new cyclists about how close they should expect a vehicle to be, and perhaps how much space they should expect if they need to merge. 1.5 metres is plenty for me to do whatever I need. I can deal with about 20cm but only after thousands of commuting kms.

The court cannot protect drivers in this situation. There is no empathy with a distance. You are pinged and guilty if you hit someone because the gap is sufficient for rider error. Camera evidence of close shaves is easier to chase as well, because it is easy to see if someone is 5cm off your bars.

I question how easily the driver can judge a metre on their left side mirror as well... 100% agree with you. This change in the law forces them to overcompensate and provide extra space. As I said before, 1.5m is plenty of space for any size vehicle passing me. If they stuff up and only give a metre, then I'm still safe. If they are 50cm away, I know they are stirring me up. Right now, they are still stirring you up, but no contact means no crime in a court.

sumgy, I would suggest that maybe riding on the road isn't for you, if you can't tolerate the possibility of contact or the difficulty of sharing the road. You can't beat physics. You can fight it though... and law reform can help that fight.
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Re: The SCA Minimum Safe Passing Distances Survey

Postby sumgy » Fri Jun 28, 2013 12:44 pm

Xplora wrote:Everything you just said supports the need for this change ^^



You have lost me.
I think the new law is unpoliceable, so basically you are saying that by putting in place an unpoliceable law you are going to make another unpoliceable law policeable?

And where did you manage to draw that final analogy from?
A true What? moment for me.
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Re: The SCA Minimum Safe Passing Distances Survey

Postby Summernight » Fri Jun 28, 2013 1:01 pm

sumgy wrote:I also question how easily people will judge whether the left side of their car is a metre away from a cyclist whilst they are sitting on the right side of the car driving.


Yup, same here. Going by my experience of driving as compared to my partner's - my perception of how big/wide my car is is actually wider than the actual car so I'm more cautious and think I'm going to hit things when I've still got a good metre to go, whereas my partner's perception of where the car is can, let's just say, sometimes be too narrow for where the car really is (a few scrapes on the side of the car from misjudging the narrowness of a laneway and a turning circle will attest to that but luckily they buffed out :roll: ).

I have no concept of what 1.5m or 1m away is when sitting in my car unless I can gauge it from the side mirror and a line on the road. A cyclist won't be in my side mirror when passing until after I've passed.
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Re: The SCA Minimum Safe Passing Distances Survey

Postby high_tea » Fri Jun 28, 2013 1:32 pm

sumgy wrote:
Xplora wrote:Everything you just said supports the need for this change ^^



You have lost me.
I think the new law is unpoliceable, so basically you are saying that by putting in place an unpoliceable law you are going to make another unpoliceable law policeable?



Dunno about unpoliceable. Currently-unenforced, sure. I doubt the proposed new law will be any easier, or any harder, to enforce.
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Re: The SCA Minimum Safe Passing Distances Survey

Postby Xplora » Fri Jun 28, 2013 3:05 pm

What I mean is that our current law has multiple interpretations. You have not committed an offence to some if you haven't made contact. If you tell those people that they need to provide 1.5m to the side, they can no longer interpret "passing safely with adequate distance and leeway" as "SCARE THE HELL OUT OF THEM JUST DON'T TOUCH THEM".

Your opinion about 1.5m is irrelevent, just as your opinion about how fast 50kmh might be is irrelevent. It is what it is. Your opinion about what is "safe" is totally up to the judge and jury to determine if it is acceptable - and this is only tested after someone is hurt or killed right now. Interpretation and opinion is removed with the SCA proposal :idea:
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Re: The SCA Minimum Safe Passing Distances Survey

Postby Summernight » Fri Jun 28, 2013 3:17 pm

But the difference with speed vs perceived distance and actual distance is that we have a little counter in our car that tells us what speed we are currently going so we can change it prior to any incidents occurring. We don't have a distance-from-cyclist counter except for the dodgy one in our heads.

If we are flawed in our perceived distance from a cyclist then we cannot correct it without that particular driver either being taken to court or a cyclist being hit by that particular person.

That being said, I do believe that education about enforceable distances will hopefully mean that most people will give extra room as they do not know what 1.5m is from their passenger side door so will hopefully give extra.

As an added extra, I have been in a car that lights up indicators depending on how close you are to outside objects (of course, this was being used when parking). I think such technology (and the technology that is being rolled out in some cars where the car will take control and brake if it senses a collision with a cyclist/pedestrian) should be installed in all new vehicles.
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Re: The SCA Minimum Safe Passing Distances Survey

Postby darkelf921 » Fri Jun 28, 2013 4:13 pm

Sorry for reposting this video in this thread as well. However having a 1.5m minimum distance law then allows police to prosecute on video given to them like this one. Currently, nothing can really be done about this bus driver except by Translink as the bus did not hit me.

http://youtu.be/SSy_OZiOwC4
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Re: The SCA Minimum Safe Passing Distances Survey

Postby Jesmol » Fri Jun 28, 2013 4:25 pm

Can I ask the question about what would be the penalty provisions around breaking the proposed law ?

My understanding is the recent case in Brissy was an acquital from the charges of "Dangerous Driving causing death" , which has severe penalties. There was no charge of unsafe overtaking which is a different charge, with a much more lenient sentencing provision, but was in all likelihood easier to prove.

Would it be the same with the proposed new law ? would the penalties be in line with Dangerous Driving ? or more like unsafe overtaking ?
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Re: The SCA Minimum Safe Passing Distances Survey

Postby high_tea » Fri Jun 28, 2013 4:29 pm

darkelf921 wrote:Sorry for reposting this video in this thread as well. However having a 1.5m minimum distance law then allows police to prosecute on video given to them like this one. Currently, nothing can really be done about this bus driver except by Translink as the bus did not hit me.

http://youtu.be/SSy_OZiOwC4

That's pretty nasty all right. But it's illegal under the current road rules.
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Re: The SCA Minimum Safe Passing Distances Survey

Postby high_tea » Fri Jun 28, 2013 4:36 pm

Xplora wrote:What I mean is that our current law has multiple interpretations. You have not committed an offence to some if you haven't made contact.


Not so. The standard is objective. Has anyone run this no-contact argument in court and succeeded?
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Re: The SCA Minimum Safe Passing Distances Survey

Postby The 2nd Womble » Fri Jun 28, 2013 5:11 pm

Jesmol wrote:Can I ask the question about what would be the penalty provisions around breaking the proposed law ?

My understanding is the recent case in Brissy was an acquital from the charges of "Dangerous Driving causing death" , which has severe penalties. There was no charge of unsafe overtaking which is a different charge, with a much more lenient sentencing provision, but was in all likelihood easier to prove.

Would it be the same with the proposed new law ? would the penalties be in line with Dangerous Driving ? or more like unsafe overtaking ?

It's not SCA's job to engineer the mechanicals of a 1.5m law or its enforcement or the penalties which would apply to the rule if breached. It was never our intention to do the State Government's, QPS' or the judiciary's jobs for them.
As to why 1.5m? As has been said many many times, 1.5m is currently deemed enforceable which is why this distance has been incorporated into other RR's. if its deemed enforceable - whatever the rule - then 1.5 is enforceable here. Is 1m currently applied and enforced under as part of any RR governing moving vehicles? No.
Also as posted below, 1.5m can mean the difference between a driver having to change lanes rather than trying to squeeze through. Preferred Australian standard lane width is 3.5m. The typical cyclist rides 1m from roads edge when left to their own devices and not riding defensively. Now, legislate only 1m to pass. This leaves a 1.5m invitation for the motorist to "squeeze" through. RIP.
A metre may matter when you're dead, to the driver who hit you (depending on the penalties for doing so).
Last edited by The 2nd Womble on Fri Jun 28, 2013 5:24 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: The SCA Minimum Safe Passing Distances Survey

Postby Xplora » Fri Jun 28, 2013 5:14 pm

high_tea wrote:
Xplora wrote:What I mean is that our current law has multiple interpretations. You have not committed an offence to some if you haven't made contact.


Not so. The standard is objective. Has anyone run this no-contact argument in court and succeeded?

Sadly the QLD cement truck driver managed to run an argument despite contact. He clearly failed to leave enough space and killed someone as a result... however in the jury's mind, the cement truck driver's first obligation is to avoid the rider, (edit) rather than provide a large gap between him and the bike. It's a subtle, yet important, difference when considering the thought process behind overtaking. If I am simply trying to stop hitting something, I behave differently than if I'm trying to avoid a slipstream effect.
Accidents happen when you misjudge that... however with a 1.5m rule, you set a much higher standard than "no-contact" and as a result, the argument that he legitimately believed that he had left enough space becomes a moot point, in a similar sense that failing to judge your speed because you were drunk is irrelevent as you have failed two obligations.

I'm sitting a 150cm wide desk as I type. There is ZERO chance that a driver could misjudge that distance by mistake. They would have to be negligent in their passing of the rider. The difference is that the room for error is much much much lower if the driver wants to be intentionally difficult.

One fantastic benefit of 1.5m is that if you're taking the lane with lines in the middle, they have to completely change lanes to overtake. I imagine a video pointing forwards and backwards showing car wheels in the lane as they pass the cyclist. Automatic TIN. This is NOT an unreasonable expectation and cyclists do in fact have a right to control the traffic around them if there is a safety concern. Cars do this already. You cannot pass your P's unless you understand defensive driving. Laws that support that reality would be great.

The more cameras we have out there, the better IMO.
Last edited by Xplora on Fri Jun 28, 2013 6:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The SCA Minimum Safe Passing Distances Survey

Postby AUbicycles » Fri Jun 28, 2013 5:34 pm

I found some of the questions hard to answer as my preferred option was not there - or that some were 'loaded'.

The a metre matters laws are actually more important for awareness as opposed to the ability to police and enforce it which I think is the point - drivers passing safely and at a safe distance for them and the cyclist.
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Re: The SCA Minimum Safe Passing Distances Survey

Postby The 2nd Womble » Fri Jun 28, 2013 5:44 pm

A law as an unenforceable awareness campaign? May as well just throw a few million at the AGF so they can continue their good work while the body count continues to climb. Awareness has done nothing.
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Re: The SCA Minimum Safe Passing Distances Survey

Postby Xplora » Fri Jun 28, 2013 6:39 pm

The more gracious interpretation is that the legislated gap creates an awareness that a large gap is necessary... as opposed to simply an awareness campaign which I agree has done little.
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Re: The SCA Minimum Safe Passing Distances Survey

Postby trailgumby » Fri Jun 28, 2013 7:24 pm

From experience, change management programs built on carrots alone just don't work. You need some big sticks as well.

Sticks alone will sometimes work, because avoidance of pain is a stronger motivator than pleasure (or altruism in this case - "do the right thing")

What works best is an awareness campaigns backed with a monstrously big stick.

So if we get this law, we'll have both. We *need* both.
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