Government considers new legal distance limit for cars passing cyclists

The Government is to keep under review the possibility of a legal passing distance for cyclists, following the launch of a petition calling for a one metre clearance.

Set up by Tony Martin on the Government’s website, the petition calls for a legal minimum distance between drivers and cyclists when overtaking.

The petition has attracted more than 16,000 signatures of the 100,000 it will need to trigger a debate in Parliament. It will run until 24 October

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The call is for drivers to leave one metre between car and cyclists on roads with speed limits up to 30mph. On roads with higher speed limits the petition says the minimum passing distance should be 1.5 metres.

Currently the wording of the Highway Code’s advice is to give “plenty of room”.

However, the UK’s death rate for cyclists is far higher than other countries - measured as deaths rate per billion kilometres cycled, the UK has a rating of 22.4, around double that of Norway (11), Denmark (12.1) and the Netherlands (12.4).

The Government previously said that it had no plans to look at the legislation, stating that it wuold be “extremely difficult to enforce”, instead pointing to the Highway Code advice to leave ‘at least as much room as you would when overtaking a car’.

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However, transport minister Robert Goodwill told the Evening Standard that the DfT is ‘interested’ in the idea, which is under review.

Mr Goodwill said: “The introduction of a legally enforceable minimum passing distance between cyclists and other vehicles in South Australia is relatively recent.

“As a result, there is limited information available regarding the impacts both positive and negative following this change in the law.

“As with other changes of this type introduced overseas, we remain interested in the change and are keeping it under review.”

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View the petition here: