3 Sep 2015

Give cycling buffer zones a spin - advocate

5:27 pm on 3 September 2015

Laws to make sure motorists give cyclists more space when overtaking them have worked overseas, a cycling advocate says.

Cyclist in Wellington traffic.

The government is considering mandatory minimum distances for vehicles passing cyclists. Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

The government is considering introducing a one metre buffer zone in city streets, and 1.5 metres in higher speed areas, following recommendations from the Cycling Safety Panel.

Associate Transport Minister Craig Foss has asked officials to look into the idea, with the work expected to be completed in 2016.

The officials will also consider the mandatory fitting of guards on the sides of trucks to prevent cyclists touching the wheels.

Cycling Advocates Network spokesperson Patrick Morgan told Morning Report similar laws had been tested in other countries.

"Now this was trialled in Queensland, Australia. It has worked. It starts a conversation - but it has also resulted in people taking more care on the roads."

He said, however, that the existing law already required people to overtake cyclists safely.

"You have to give due consideration to other road users, whether it's someone on a bike, a pedestrian, a road worker, maybe a farm worker moving cattle."

Mr Morgan said the buffer zone proposal was just one of a number of possible changes that could make the roads safer.

"Cycling is here to stay. The sooner we learn to share the road, and share it safely, the better."

Chair of Cycle Action Auckland Barbara Cuthbert said the government was dragging the chain and said more lives could be lost and people injured in that time, and it was just not good enough.

Ms Cuthbert sais it was not OK to have the speed limit as a guideline, and the same applied for passing cyclists - as there has to be a penalty for breaking the law.

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