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Bike riding is booming! Over the last few months we’ve seen bike sales go through the roof to a point where many stores are running out. With so many extra riders enjoying life on two wheels, we want to share how to overtake a bike rider safely.

Car overtaking a bike rider

Minimum Passing Distance 

In NSW, when drivers overtake a bike rider they must give:

  • 1 metre of space when the speed limit is sign posted at 60km/h and under
  • 1.5 metres of space when the speed limit is sign posted at over 60km/h.

This is measured from the right-most edge of the bike rider (i.e. handlebars or elbow) to the left-most edge of the motor vehicle (usually a mirror). 

It is important to only overtake when it is safe to do so. 

Driver Exemptions 

In order to provide space for the bike rider when overtaking, there are exemptions for drivers. When overtaking a bike rider safely you can: 

  • Cross the centre line markings if safe to do so (i.e. no vehicles coming towards you)
  • Cross a flat dividing stripe
  • Cross a painted island

If you can’t overtake safely, you need to wait until you can.  

Riding Two Abreast 

In accordance with NSW law, bike riders are able to cycle two abreast. They often do this for visibility as two riders side by side can often be seen more clearly. 

When cycling two abreast, riders must be within 1.5 metres of each other. A third rider can overtake these two riders, but cannot continue to ride beside them.

When overtaking a group of riders cycling two abreast, drivers must continue to follow the minimum passing distance law. 

Taking The Lane

Bike riders are also able to cycle in the middle of the lane, this is commonly known as “taking the lane”. Riders do this for a few reasons: 

  • To move away from debris sitting in the side of the road i.e. cracked pavement, foliage, glass 
  • To be more visible to other road users
  • To turn right, they need to move through the lane 
  • To encourage drivers to overtake properly, rather than trying to squeeze past in the same lane 

Turning Left Around A Bike Riders

If you are wanting to turn left around a bike rider, it is best to do this behind the rider. Overtaking a bike rider and then cutting in front to turn left, can cause a crash.  


 In accordance with Rule 144-1 (1) drivers can be fined $344 and will lose 2 demerit points, if you fail to provide a safe distance when overtaking. 

Be Patient  

When overtaking a bike rider, it is important to remain patient and to be considerate. A few seconds waiting for a safe place to pass can easily be made up later, and can save a bike rider’s life. 

Safety On Spokes

This article is a part of our 2 month Safety on Spokes Campaign where we cover a range of topics to make a better environment for bike riders in NSW.

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