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Call To Bring Forward Cyclist Passing Gap Following Death

Just after midday a cyclist was killed on a straight road on a clear day, after being hit by a van in North Canterbury. Lucinda Rees from NZ School Speeds is asking for the mandatory cyclist/vulnerable road user passing gap, which is in consultation, to be made law now.

NZTA is consulting on Accessible Streets (www.nzta.govt.nz/accessible-streets-consultation). One of the recommendations is a mandatory passing gap for all vulnerable road users which includes cyclists. The suggested mandatory passing gap is 1 metre for those driving at speeds of up to 60km/h and 1.5 metres for those travelling above 60km/h. The death in North Canterbury may well have been avoided if drivers had this rule in mind. Ms Rees is asking the Government to bring forward this rule, so that vulnerable road users can safely move about.

Patrick Morgan, from Cycling Action Network agrees: “This is a sensible package of rule changes, which will help to reduce risk both on our streets and footpaths.”

“Unsafe overtaking is scary and dangerous for people on bikes. It has to stop. A safe passing law will clarify what safe passing looks like, so all drivers know what is expected. It will provide the Police a new tool to enforce safe driving.”

“We already have rules on expected following distances, so a safe passing rule makes sense.”

Furthermore a safe passing rule was recommended by the NZ Cycle Safety Panel as early as 2014.

North Canterbury is where Ms Rees lives and she regularly walks her dogs. “During lockdown foot traffic and cycle traffic has increased. Families and individuals are getting out into their local area, to get a change in scenery, exercise and ease their mental health woes. Most of the roads in the rural area are 100km/h roads. By rights these roads should be empty during lockdown, but there are still a lot of drivers out and about.

“Many of these drivers seem unaware of the risks they cause those walking and cycling - some with very young families - as they pass at close proximity and not reducing their speed. The walkers and cyclists are actually doing as they are told and exploring their local area, leaving roads free for those essential workers.”

In these days of lockdown a death on our roads is totally unacceptable, especially of those who are just trying to make do. We need a mandatory passing gap now, not at the end of the year so that all vulnerable road users are safe. The Prime Minister should also remind all those who are driving that vulnerable road users have a right to be out and about and need to be passed at a safe distance and a reduced speed.

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