The Amy Gillett Foundation’s 'a metre matters campaign' is on track to amend road rules across Australia so that drivers are required to provide a safe distance of at least one metre when overtaking bicycle riders. This is changing road user behaviour in South Australia, Queensland, the ACT, NSW and Tasmania. Bicycle riders say that drivers are giving them more space and non-riders agree that this road rule will protect bicycle riders.
Manmeet Grewal relies on a taxi meter to make a living. When he’s riding his bike, he relies on drivers allowing at least one metre when they overtake him.
The thirty-three-year-old has been driving a taxi for the past ten years and started bike riding when he was looking for a new way to get fit and healthy.
“I needed to do something to get fitter and my back was getting sore,” Manmeet said.
“As I was driving the taxi I used to see a lot of cyclists on Beach Road on Sunday mornings.”
“I thought to myself, if I want to get fit, why not start riding a bike?” he said.
Manmeet and other bike riders in Melbourne share the road with taxis, trucks, buses and other vehicles. Few roads are designed with separated bicycle lanes.
When asked about his own experiences of riding a bike Manmeet said it was the minority the drivers who get too close.
“People do leave a safe distance most of the time but there are some people who don’t mind getting very close.”
“It’s dangerous to me and them. They don’t know how I am going to react – I could lose my balance.”
“Or I might have to swerve out suddenly if there’s glass or stones on the road, or a pothole.”
Manmeet believes it’s a shared responsibility.
“You can’t blame the driver every time, the cyclist must also have a sense of responsibility towards the cars,” Manmeet added.
In Victoria there is no law requiring a motorist to leave a minimum overtaking distance when passing a bike rider. Manmeet believes that they should leave at least a one metre gap when overtaking.
“The cyclist needs to have a safe space as you don’t have any airbags or metal to protect you in a crash.”
In order to promote the message of leaving a minimum overtaking distance of one metre, Manmeet said it was the responsibility for both drivers and bike riders to be educated, and that the government has an important role to play.
“The government does a lot for road safety like campaigns against drink driving and speed. They should do the same to protect cyclists.”
“Everyone needs to be safe.”
The VTA is proud to be partnering with the Amy Gillett Foundation to help ensure our roads are safer for all of those that use them. We recognise the importance of developing and enhancing greater cooperation between all road users to untimely deliver a better level of respect and understanding. For more information on a metre matters please visit the Amy Gillett Foundation website.