The Minimum Passing Distance Rule and What Bike Riders Can Do

In March 2016, the NSW Government introduced a new Road Rule stipulating the Minimum Passing Distance (MPD) the driver of a vehicle must give when overtaking a bike rider on NSW Roads. In areas that are 60km or lower speed limits, vehicles must pass cyclists with at least 1m of distance between their vehicle and the rider. In 70km or faster speed zones, the minimum distance is 1.5m. You can read How to Apply the Minimum Passing Distance when driving a vehicle on our Give A Metre page.
You can also Become a Member and add your voice to ours as we advocate for better infrastructure, better public education, and create a better environment for cycling.
Read about how to apply the Minimum Passing Distance when driving a vehicle overtaking Bike Riders.

Bike Rider’s Resources

Below we have developed two resources that bike riders can use to help us create a better environment for cycling.
If you have experienced a 'close pass' or had a vehicle not give you the minimum passing distance (MPD) when passing, you can:
Record the Close Pass on our Minimum Passing Distance Breach Record and help us
Report the Driver to the Police using our Step By Step Guide on how to report an MPD breach

Record a Minimum Passing Distance Breach

Share information and experiences about experiences of vehicles passing you too closely when out riding a bike

Why record my experience?

We would like to collect information about minimum passing distance (MPD) breaches across NSW and provide more insight to the NSW Government and Police Force to identify locations that experience a high prevalence of MPD infringement, and demonstrate the high frequency with which riders are still experiencing drivers passing too closely.

We know a number of riders do not have cameras on their bikes and are as such unable to make a successful MPD report to Police. To fill this gap, we have created an MPD breach record. All bike riders are able to record their close pass experiences and help us paint an accurate picture of how many drivers do not understand and adhere to the new laws.
It should be noted:
  • This is NOT an official report to NSW Police. It is a collection of a close pass experiences to demonstrate the need for action in identified locations
  • You personal details will not be passed on to any third party, but will allow us to contact you with further information or support
  • Record the details of your bike riding experiences when drivers have not given the minimum passing distance while overtaking

    How to Report Minimum Passing Distance Incidents

    A Step-by-Step Guide

    Examples of photo evidence for minimum passing distance infringement, courtesy of John Hawkins
    Photos courtesy of John Hawkins
    Capture of a still screen from cycliq camera
    Measurements for mandatory passing distance

    This downloadable procedure has been written by Bicycle NSW subsequent to the meetings held with Police and Transport for NSW throughout 2016. It was agreed that a procedure should be put in place whereby photo and video evidence of a possible Minimum Passing Distance (MPD) offence can be presented to Police for action.

    It should be noted:

    • This is NOT a procedure for NSW Police. It is a suggested set of actions for bicycle riders to undertake in the incidence of a close pass.
    • The level of proof required by NSW Police to issue an infringement is high, ie Beyond Reasonable Doubt. This is much higher than the “Balance of Probabilities” test, and therefore the opinion of a rider is not sufficient proof. There has to be some measurable proof that the MPD has been infringed.

    This Step-by-Step Guide features 4 steps:

    1. Initial Actions
    2. Report the Incident
    3. Follow Up
    4. Bicycle NSW Review
    Download the current version of the Step-by-Step Guide for use in preparing for and reporting Minimum Passing Distance breaches.

    Help us protect more bike riders and create a better environment for cycling - join Bicycle NSW today.

    Bicycle NSW continues participate in Transport for NSW’s "Bicycle Rider Communications Working Group" which meets on a semi regular basis. Representatives from the Amy Gillett Foundation have also attended these working group meetings, and the NRMA and Cycling NSW have been invited to participate.

    A series of informational articles will be prepared to further educate bike riders on actions they can take to ensure they can assist in the further enforcement of the Minimum Passing Distance legislation.

    The Minimum Passing Distance legislation is contained within Road Rule 144-1. This rule is an additional NSW rule. There is no corresponding rule in the Australian Road Rules.

    The NSW Government will continue to produce and make available materials and campaigns to educate all road users on the current laws and how they apply to their mode of transport.

    NSW State Government Go Together campaign video

    Rule 144–1 NSW rule: keeping a safe distance when passing bicycle rider

    (1) The driver of a motor vehicle driving past to the right of a bicycle that is travelling on a road in the same direction as the motor vehicle must pass the bicycle at a safe distance from the bicycle.

    Maximum penalty: 20 penalty units.

    (2) A safe distance from the bicycle is:
    (a) if the speed limit applying to the driver of the motor vehicle for the length of the road is not more than 60 kilometres per hour—a distance of at least 1 metre, or
    (b) if the speed limit applying to the driver of the motor vehicle for the length of the road is more than 60 kilometres per hour—a distance of at least 1.5 metres,

    measured laterally from the furthest right side of the bicycle to the furthest left side of the motor vehicle or any part of the vehicle (including anything attached to or projecting from the vehicle).

    (3) For the purposes of subrule (2), bicycle includes any bicycle trailer towed by the bicycle, the rider or any passenger on the bicycle or in or on the trailer and any basket or pannier bags attached to the bicycle or trailer, but does not include any flag or stick (whether or not flexible) attached to and projecting sideways from the bicycle or trailer.

    Rule 144–2   NSW rule: exceptions for passing bicycle rider

    (1)  The driver of a motor vehicle driving past to the right of a bicycle that is travelling on a road in the same direction as the motor vehicle may, if it is necessary in order to comply with rule 144–1 while passing the bicycle, do any of the following but only if the driver can do so safely and has a clear view of any approaching traffic:

    (a)  if the driver is driving on a two-way road without a dividing line or median strip—drive to the right of the centre of the road,
    (b)  if the driver is driving on a road with a dividing line—drive to the right of the dividing line,
    (c)  drive:
    (i)  on a dividing strip that is at the same level as the road, or
    (ii)  on or over a single continuous line, or 2 parallel continuous lines, along a side of or surrounding a painted island,
    (d)  if the driver is driving on a multi-lane road—drive so that the driver’s vehicle is not completely in a marked lane,
    (e)  if the driver is driving on a road with 2 or more lines of traffic travelling in the same direction as the driver, but without marked lanes—drive so that the driver’s vehicle is not completely in a single line of traffic,
    (f)  if the driver is driving on a multi-lane road—move from one marked lane to another marked lane across a continuous line separating the lanes.

     

    Read the Rules in full:  http://www.legislation.nsw.gov.au/#/view/regulation/2014/758