This requires amendments to the RTA 1985, and for these to be embedded in the Highway Code.
A ‘split rule’ analogous to that in Queensland and France, is probably more feasible, and would read: a motorised vehicle overtaking a cyclist must leave a minimum overtaking distance of:
a)a lateral separation of not less than 1 metre if the applicable speed limit is 30mph or less
b)a lateral separation of not less than 1.5 metres if the applicable speed limit exceeds 30mph.
Lateral distance is defined as being measured from the right side of the bicycle or bicycle rider to the left side of the driver’s mirrors or other projections including trailers and other attachments.
There needs to be an accompanying change to the rules around solid white lines (echoed in Rules 165 and 129 of the Highway Code). In order to pass cyclists with sufficient room, motorists should be able to straddle solid white lines as long as they have an adequate view of the road ahead and it is safe to do so.
It recognises that cyclists are physically vulnerable and need protected space.
This would give an unambiguous expectation to motorists of what constitutes a minimum overtake distance.
This would underpin any campaign to increase the awareness of motorists to the vulnerability of cyclists. As new legislation, it will carry a greater profile and be more likely to enter public consciousness.
Because it is quantified, prosecution would be more straightforward (with sufficient evidence). The current Highway Code is not robust enough to perform this function.
It may have more sway than purely an awareness campaign in altering the behaviour of the minority of motorists who persistently pass dangerously close to cyclists. If it doesn’t, there will be legal recourse.
It formally recognises cyclists as legitimate road users who have a right to space. This may improve interactions between road users by putting them on an equal footing.
It will encourage more people to take up cycling because of an increased perception of safety. More people cycling has benefits to society including work performance, better levels of health, better air quality and less congested roads (see benefits to Society).
The Isle of Man will be seen to be forward looking and independent from the UK.
The Government will be seen to be taking its health promotion initiative seriously (see benefits to Health).
The bottom line is, when combined with an ongoing educational program, it will improve road safety.
If the introduction of a Minimum Overtake Distance is to be successful, it must be accompanied by a coordinated and ongoing awareness campaign. This will involve multi-media education and be directed to all road users.
Specific groups who have influence over road safety will be specifically targeted (such as driving instructors, taxi drivers, bus drivers, road hauliers).
Efforts will be coordinated with other stakeholders including the Police, Department of Infrastructure, Tourism, the Institute for Advanced Motorists, Cycling Proficiency instructors etc.
Kate in the rain of the 2012 Lighthouse Challenge
-photo Dave Kneen