Due to the greater risk of injury to cyclists when vehicles pass them, rules have been introduced concerning the minimum distance drivers must leave between their vehicle and the cyclist when passing.
There is some confusion among road users as to what the rules are, what actions drivers can take to pass safely and what the passing distances are in different circumstances. The following information will assist in clarifying these rules.
The rules only apply when a cyclist and vehicle are travelling in the same direction. They do not apply if they are travelling in opposite directions.
When the speed limit is 60km/h or under, motorists must leave a gap of at least 1m between their vehicle and bicycle riders when passing.
When the speed limit is over 60km/h, the gap must be at least 1.5m.
The passing distance is measured from:
- The rightmost part of the bicycle, or the person on the bicycle
- The leftmost part of the vehicle, or something sticking out from the vehicle (e.g. a side mirror).
The minimum passing distance applies even if the bicycle rider is riding around an obstacle.
To pass a bicycle rider—as long as it is safe to do so—a driver is allowed to:
- drive over centre lines (including double unbroken centre lines) on a 2-way road
- straddle or cross a lane line (including a continuous lane line) on a multi-lane road
- drive on a painted island.
If it is not safe to pass a bicycle rider, be patient. You must wait until it is safe to pass.
Also, remember to indicate right long enough to warn other road users you're about to change direction to pass a bicycle rider. Indicate left when you have passed the bicycle rider, and are moving back to your original position on the road.
These rules allow vehicles to pass a cyclist more effectively and safely.
The Queensland Government has provided detailed information, factsheets and related material that can be found here.