If you drove your car down a bike path adjacent to a road people would think you had gone mad, Police would be called and a ticket issued. As a result, it simply doesn’t happen here and rightly so as safety is a top priority.
How then is it so common to see bicycle riders on busy roads just feet from bike paths? Why do they do it? Why do we invest in bike paths only to be put in danger by bikes on roads? I don’t have the answer and the law allows it. This should change.
Motorists must stay wide of bicycle riders by giving a minimum clearance of:
1.0 m when passing a bicycle rider in a 60 km/h or less speed zone or 1.5m where the speed limit is over 60 km/h.
If you want to pass two bicycle riders that are riding next to each other, the minimum passing distance applies to the bicycle rider closest to the right. It is legal for two bicycle riders to ride side-by-side on a road, as long as they are not more than 1.5 m apart. I’d say that would put your car in the scrub on many local roads.
Take a busy road like First Avenue on the section taking you to Woorim near the cemetery. Two cars need to pass at 80 km per hour, a combined potential head-on impact of 160 kmph. The law says that a car must pass a bicycle also on that road giving 1.5 metres of clearance. That puts Car A on the wrong side of the road and in a collision path with Car B coming the other way.
So, what to do:
Option 1: Give the 1.5 metres clearance and cross on to the wrong side of the road, putting yourself and others at risk and at fault in the event of a collision.
Option 2: Pass the bicycle without giving the full 1.5 metres of clearance, endanger the bike rider and break the law.
Option 3: Drive to Woorim at 30 kmph until it’s safe to pass on the wrong side.
Not the best of options the lawmakers of Queensland have left us with. However, there should be another option:
Option 4: Cyclist uses the purpose-built bike path to Woorim.
I can hear the howls from some of the Lycra brigade as I type, but plenty of cyclists do use the bike paths. Let’s send a big thank you to those cyclists using the paths rather than the roads. We appreciate you doing the safe and sensible thing.