BIKE Bendigo has been left confused by the state government’s refusal to legislate a one-metre gap between cyclists and passing motorists.
Victoria and the Northern Territory remain the only jurisdictions without safe passing laws or plans for their implementation.
Bike Bendigo was among a range of cycling groups to make a submission to a Victorian government inquiry investigating the need for the laws.
Four cyclists have died on Victorian roads in the last 35 days, and another was injured in Dandenong after being clipped by a passing side mirror.
Group president Geoff O’Sullivan said cyclists needed more protection than ever, particularly in rural areas.
“Introducing safe passing legislation would bring Victoria into line with other states and territories, so I don’t know why we’re being left behind like this,” he said.
“We need to keep telling people that cyclists are vulnerable on the roads.
“No one group of society is perfect, and of course there are cyclists as well as motorists who aren’t doing the right thing. But cyclists are allowed to ride two abreast.”
The state government will instead introduce a year-long public education campaign in an attempt to change driver attitudes.
If road trauma involving cyclists continued, then it would consider introducing the one-metre laws.
Mr O’Sullivan said while the main suburban roads of Bendigo were generally safe for cyclists, there remained a lack of trails to help get cyclists off the major rural roads.
“The O’Keeffe Rail Trail has been good in giving cyclists somewhere safe to ride,” he said.
“We need to look at more ways to help cyclists be separated from the roads.”
The Victorian Greens spearheaded the inquiry into the safe passing laws.
Leader Greg Barber said the government was risking lives by not implementing the changes.
“The government has quietly decided that a metre does not matter,” he said in a social media post.
“These laws save lives and will clarify what a safe passing distance is for all road users.”
Queensland, South Australia, New South Wales, Tasmania and the ACT have similar legislation. Western Australia has committed to introducing the laws.