MP Wants 1.5m Cyclist Rule


United Future MP Peter Dunne wants a change to the road code to require drivers to give cyclists a 1.5 metre “bubble” when passing them.

“The road code already suggests motorists give cyclists a 1.5 metre space, but the spate of recent serious and fatal accidents involving cyclists means it is time to take the issue more seriously, particularly with regard to highways and main arterial roads,” said Mr Dunne.

“Strengthening the road code this way is a common sense measure that cyclists have long called for and I think it is one very simple step we can take to help end the dreadful carnage on our roads. “We need to make it enforceable with instant fines for breaches of that ‘bubble’. As it stands today, cycling is a pretty risky endeavour, but it does not have to be that way.”

Mr Dunne said no motorist would ever wish to hit a cyclist, and he expected they would greet enforcement of a 1.5m ‘bubble’ as a sensible change.




  1. Geoff says:

    And what will the cyclist’s responsibility be? If we have a 3.5 wide lane, and they decide they feel like riding 2m out from the curb, does the motorist have to sit behind them until it’s safe to cross the centre line?

    The problem is with cyclists, not motorists. They need to realize that hogging the lane is unacceptable.

  2. Matt says:

    Geoff, back again, huh?
    If a cyclist has to ride 2m out from the kerb because there’s glass in the road, or sunk drains, then so be it. That’s their right, and is necessary for their safety. I’ve dislocated a shoulder after dropping my front wheel into a sunk drain, and I now give them a very wide berth.
    Similarly if they have to ride 1.5m out from cars to ensure that they’re not going to get collected by errant doors opened by car drivers who don’t look. Whose fault is that? Not the cyclist’s.

    Cyclists have an absolute legal right to use the road. Car drivers do not have an absolute legal right to push cyclists into the kerb, or parked cars, or whatever other hazards may exist to the left of the cyclist that is encouraging them to ride in the middle of the lane.
    Also, when drivers have attitudes like yours, riding in the middle of the lane to ensure that there’s plenty of space to avoid being pushed off the road is absolutely vital.

  3. LucyJH says:

    I saw an interesting analysis of crash statistics in AUckland recently. It’s a bit different in urban rather than rural areas (which is where a lot of the deaths happen because cars are going so much faster).

    Actually, most cyclist-car crashes in Auckland happen at intersections (not when people are just cycling along a straight road and car swipes from the side). In particular, they happen because cars turning right don’t give ways to cyclists coming straight through.

    So, one has to wonder if a lot of the cycle safety messaging about 1.5 m you see in AUkcland is a bit misplaced…

  4. Matt says:

    Lucy, the 1.5m rule would still make drivers more aware of cyclists.

    Have to say, drivers have been a lot better about giving space lately. Was out with my gf last night, first time she’s been on a bike in years, and drivers were leaving at least 1.5m most of the time. One guy even stopped completely as she was trying to move right across GSR so we could turn right down Kalmaia St, so that she could move safely.

    I think Geoff’s, thankfully, in the remaining minority of drivers who think it’s their deity-granted right to hog the road and cyclists just need to GTFO of the way.

  5. Geoff says:

    Matt, your description of motorists is the classic description of how cyclists act. Cyclists are road users, and are therefore subject to the same rules as all other road users. Traveling at 20km/h in a 50km/h zone and expecting everyone to slow to that speed, is the height of arrogance, and with anyone else would get you a ticket.

    Cyclists are the problem - they choose to hog the lane by riding further out than they should. I say give them 1.5m from the curb, and no more. If their tyres can’t handle the debris on the road, then they are unsafe to be on the road.

  6. Geoff says:

    If cyclists obeyed the current rules shown below, there wouldn’t be a problem. It’s only because so many refuse to obey these simple rules, and willfully impede traffic flow, that they find motorists fed up with them. A police crackdown on cycling would be helpful. Start ramming some sense into those helmets.

    [If you're riding with other cyclists, don't ride more than two abreast. Ride in single file when you're passing other vehicles - including parked vehicles, or when you're impeding traffic behind you.

    Be considerate to other road users. If the road is narrow, check that you are not slowing the traffic flow, and let motor vehicles pass as soon as it's safe.]

  7. Richard says:

    Geoff, do cyclists riding in the middle of the road kill people? The problem you describe is one of inconvenience, not safety. In fact, cyclists are remarkably easy to overtake compared with other traffic in most circumstances and do not hold traffic up excessively. Yes, you might have to slow down to the cyclist’s speed, and yes, you might have to wait until there is space to pass safely, but because a bicycle is quite narrow and it’s easy to see past a cyclist the wait isn’t very long… less than 1 minute almost every time?!? It’s not that difficult and most drivers give cyclists a little bit of respect… maybe you should too. Also 50kph is the speed “limit” not the recommended speed.

  8. Nigel says:

    It would be impractical to apply this “bubble space” rule to every road situation. Mr Dunne suggests main/arterial routes only. This is starting to get complicated, and against a backdrop of “zero tolerance” policing I don’t like where this is headed.
    As an afterthought, would a cyclist be expected to give the 1.5m margin when undertaking slowly moving cars? This would unintentionally put a car driver in the wrong!

  9. Kcm says:

    After doing a cycle survey and article for journo school it was interesting to listen to the gripes of cyclists and motorists.
    As a major bike commuter here in Welly I agree with Geoff that some cyclists do leave a lot to be desired - jumping red lights and hogging lanes is really rude and unlawful.
    But, so are cars who don’t indicate and pull into left lanes, drivers who race past us to pull left with no concept of the 35km speed we are doing and get pissy that we are won’t give way, drivers being impatient when we take off a little slow in the middle of a lane for visibility, having to move around or out from opening car doors and people jay walking between stopped traffic.
    I encourage any driver who thinks those on bikes have an easy ride to get on 2 wheels and move around the city for a good hour - if you are reluctant to then consider the reasons why and they are what cyclists deal with every time they ride.
    Asking for a compulsory 1.5m won’t work or help relations between all road users - NZ roads aren’t designed for bikes and cars to share. Get the cars off the road, peak oil is over!
    It comes down to patience and sharing. If this is impossible, get off the planet.

  10. Geoff says:

    “Get the cars off the road, peak oil is over!”

    Getting OT here, but I’ll point out that neither of the two indicators of peak oil have occurred, which means it either hasn’t happened, or it has happened but with no negative effect. 1) Supply issues at petrol stations; 2) High prices.

    91 octane reached $2 per litre in May 2008. Last week my local BP was only 4 cents above that. Take off the taxes added since 2008, and the price has actually gone down.

    Milk, soft drink and even bottled water are all more expensive than oil, and they are easier to make!

    Peak oil - not relevant if it doesn’t manifest supply issues or high prices.


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