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Bicycle NSW continues to work hard to raise awareness of Minimum Passing Distance (MPD) legislation. Drivers must give bicycle riders at least one metre space in 60 km/h or under zones and 1.5 metres when the speed limit is above 60km/h. But we know this isn’t routinely happening. 

We advocate for much more enforcement and there has been some progress recently. As reported here, NSW Police Assistant Commissioner, Brett McFadden has committed to investigate close passes and ensure appropriate action is taken.

But of course, it is much better to stop MPD breaches from happening at all. 

One Bicycle NSW Member has found a good way to reduce the risk of a close pass. He wrote in to tell us how he does it.

They say they just don’t see me!

“Most days I commute to work by bike. It’s a 50km round trip on mostly secondary roads and protected bike paths in Sydney, Australia. I have been doing this for about 4 years and find it’s an efficient and enjoyable way to get to work compared with driving or public transport.

When I started bike commuting, I was concerned about the frequency and risk to my safety of dangerous close passes by vehicles, i.e. less than the one metre (in a speed limit zone of up to 60kmh) distance as required by the NSW Road Rules 2014 Clause 144-1(2)(a). This was despite riding sensibly, having powerful lights, and wearing high visibility clothing. 

Comments from drivers if I spoke with them were usually that they just did not see me!”

The ‘courtesy flag’

“To address this problem, I have refined a way to increase my visibility and reduce the likelihood of the close passes. 

This is my DIY flag, which extends 950mm sideways from the end of the flat handlebar. The NSW Road Rules, per Clause 144-1 (3), do not consider sideways flags to be part of the bike, i.e. it is not against the law to have a flag attached in this manner.”

Note that a painted wooden ball was originally added to the tip. However, based on feedback, this was removed so nothing can catch on a vehicle, as well as to reduce weight.

“The lightweight aluminium tube is fixed to a simple two-way pivot that holds it horizontal yet pivots safely forwards or backwards when hit. It quickly folds down to vertical when not required. Vehicles have hit the flag many times with no effect on the bike’s steering or stability.”

The fixing on the end of the handlebar

A close-up of the pivot

“I call it a ‘courtesy flag’ because it helps drivers see me and better judge the legal and courteous passing distance. It seems effective in improving my visibility and reducing the incidence of dangerous and illegal close passes.

Comments about the courtesy flag from cyclists and motorists alike range broadly from ‘what great idea’ and ‘brilliant’ to ‘you are an idiot’ and ‘it will cause you to crash’. 

But the majority of comments received are positive. Whatever people say on the road I will smile and thank them for their opinion!”

The bike fitted out with its courtesy flag, in the end-of-trip facility at work.

Courtesy flag construction details: 

A 1m x 12mm diameter aluminium tube from Bunnings is cut to 950mm and wrapped in fluoro orange flagging tape, which is also used as a flag material at the end. This flag is secured with thin rubber band. Bamboo or fibreglass are viable alternatives to the aluminium tube. 

The tube is connected to the mirror's shaft with a boat awning pivot set from Whitworth's Marine. A strip of rubber around the mirror shaft and inside the pivot's clamp holds it in place when the thumb screw is tightened yet it releases easily when it’s hit or for vertical storage on protected bike paths. 

What else can you do about close passes?

As we recently reported, Bicycle NSW CEO Peter McLean met with NSW Police Assistant Commissioner, Brett McFadden PSM, to discuss Minimum Passing Distance prosecution, and other safety issues.

“Commissioner McFadden committed to getting his team to investigate and follow up internally to ensure appropriate action is taken,” says Peter McLean. 

Our article New Push for Minimum Passing Distance Compliance explained how to report a breach. We asked our friends and Members to email us if a case is not investigated so we can communicate directly with Assistant Commissioner McFadden's team. 

Bicycle NSW is currently following up on several cases.

And then join the family!

Please consider becoming a Bicycle NSW Member today. You will support our crucial advocacy campaigns to make NSW better for bike riding.  You will also ride with peace of mind, covered by our comprehensive insurance, and enjoy many other Member-only benefits

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