Centre for Road Safety

In NSW, drivers must give bicycle riders at least 1 metre of space when passing. Our video shows how the Minimum Passing Distance rule affects you, and how you can help ensure that we all Go Together safely on our roads.

On average, nine bicycle riders are killed and more than 1900 seriously injured in NSW each year. Bicycle riders represent about 2.5 per cent of total road fatalities and about 16 per cent of serious injuries. Drivers, bicycle riders and pedestrians all need to Go Together safely. We should all respect each other's space and ensure that everyone stays safe.

Our FAQs have more detailed information.

Drivers must give bicycle riders at least a metre of space

The Minimum Passing Distance rule helps ensure that bicycle riders and motorists remain safe when sharing our roads. Drivers who pass a bicycle rider must allow a distance of at least:

  • 1 metre when the speed limit is 60km/h or less
  • 1.5 metres when the speed limit is more than 60km/h

The Minimum Passing Distance rule was trialled in NSW for two years from 1 March 2016. In May 2018, it was retained as a permanent NSW Road Rule after an evaluation of the trial.

Find a summary of the evaluation in the Trial of Minimum Passing Distance Rule for drivers passing cyclists (PDF, 276Kb).

Exemptions to the Minimum Passing Distance rule

If drivers cannot pass a bicycle rider safely, they should slow down and wait until it is safe to pass the rider, leaving the minimum distance. To help drivers provide the minimum distance, some exemptions to the road rules apply.

Drivers will be exempt from the following rules, as long as it is safe to pass the bicycle rider with at least a metre of space and they have a clear view of approaching traffic:

  • Keep to the left of the centre of the road (two-way road with no dividing line)
  • Keep to the left of the centre of a dividing line - broken and unbroken lines
  • Keep off a flat dividing strip
  • Keep off a flat painted island
  • Driving within a single marked lane or line of traffic
  • Moving from one marked lane to another across a continuous line separating the lanes

Penalty

Drivers caught not allowing the minimum distance when passing a bicycle
rider face a $330 fine and a penalty of two demerit points.

Outcomes of the Minimum Passing Distance rule trial

The Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety – Queensland assessed the effect of the trial on bicycle rider and driver safety, and implementation issues.

Comparing trends before and after the rule, the evaluation estimated a 15 per cent reduction in bicycle-to-vehicle casualty crashes related to not providing the minimum passing distance in the 10 months after the trial began.

The evaluation also found increased awareness of the rule, that motorists were generally compliant with the rule, and that all stakeholders generally felt the rule was appropriate. Surveys showed that 81 per cent of bicycle riders and 69 per cent of drivers supported the rule.

Bicycle riders encouraged to carry ID

While the majority of bicycle riders in NSW already carry identification when riding, all bicycle riders are encouraged to carry some form of identification to improve the efficiency of emergency response if they are injured in a crash.

Cycling NSW and Bicycle NSW encourage greater participation in cycling and provide safe riding tips and information on how to get started, join local cycling groups and find popular cycling routes.

Follow the rules and stay safe

Like drivers, bicycle riders have safety in mind most of the time. By wearing an approved bicycle helmet, properly fitted and fastened, riders can reduce their chances of head injuries by up to 74 percent in crashes with motor vehicles.

By obeying the road rules, traffic lights, stop signs and give way signs, bicycle riders can move in a predictable manner, avoiding the need for other road users to react to unexpected movements.

Bicycle riders should provide pedestrians with a metre of space on shared paths

Bicycle riders are also encouraged to allow pedestrians a metre of space on shared paths, where possible.

More information

The Roads and Maritime website has more information for bicycle riders including riding maps, how traffic signals operate for bicycle riders and the latest infrastructure projects. Bicycle riders can also report traffic hazards or sensor plate issues.