Centre for Road Safety

Equal rights

Bicycle riders have the same rights and responsibilities as drivers and motorcycle riders. Drivers must watch out for bicycle riders, as they are smaller than cars and harder to see. Bicycle riders also have the right, like other vehicles, to travel on roads and be shown courtesy and care by other road users.

Drivers must give bicycle riders at least a metre of space

In NSW, 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

Our Go Together campaign has more information for drivers on the laws to help everyone respect each other's space and stay safe on the road.

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 will face a $344 fine and a penalty of two demerit points.

Evaluation of the Minimum Passing Distance rule trial

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.

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.

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

Tips when driving near bicycle riders

  • Bicycle riders are more difficult to see than cars or trucks, especially at night. Take care to check for bicycle riders in blind spots and especially when turning at intersections and at roundabouts.
  • Sometimes a bicycle rider can travel faster than a car, particularly in slow-moving traffic. Never underestimate their speed and do not to cut them off by moving in front of them. Remember that it takes bicycle riders longer to stop than cars.
  • Check in your rear-view and side mirrors to avoid opening your car door into the path of bicycle riders. It can be dangerous and is legally your fault.
  • At times, bicycle riders may need the full width of a lane to ride safely because of rough road edges and gravel. Be prepared to slow down and allow the rider to travel away from the kerb.
  • Children on bicycles can be unpredictable – be prepared to slow down and stop
  • Bicycle riders are allowed to ride two abreast (side by side).