A road safety officer in Ireland is calling for a new law setting a minimum passing distance of 1.5-metres that a vehicle driver must allow when overtaking a cyclist.
Noel Gibbons, Mayo County Council’s road safety officer, says the move would bring Ireland into line with several other EU Member States, including Germany, Spain and France*, where a 1.5-metre minimum passing distance has been adopted.
Noel Gibbons said: “If the road is too narrow for a vehicle to overtake a cycle at a distance of 1.5m, then that vehicle must travel behind the cycle until it is able to overtake it lawfully.”
Mr Gibbons is using a video clip taken on a straight piece of road with no other traffic coming from either direction, to highlight the issue and the dangers of not leaving a suitable gap when overtaking.
The driver in the clip passed close to the cyclist even though he was wearing bright yellow clothing stating ‘give cyclists 1.5 m when overtaking’.
Mr Gibbons has joined forces with the ‘Stayin’ Alive at 1.5’ campaign which was founded in April 2013 by Phil Skelton, who lived in Australia for a number of years and says he saw first hand the benefits of a 1.5m law.
Phil Skelton said: “The value of introducing a safe overtaking law in conjunction with a safety campaign is that one is crystallised by the other allowing its full effect to take place.
“In Queensland, for example, a recent survey after just six months of a trial there found that 75% are aware of the legislation, 67% support the legislation and most importantly 61% of cyclists have experienced greater distance from overtaking motorists.
“Ad campaigns alone can come nowhere near this outcome especially in such a short time.”
*In France the minimum passing distance in urban areas is one metre and on other roads 1.5 metres.