• New South Wales cyclists will be faced with new road rules from 1 March, 2016 (Getty) (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
The New South Wales (NSW) Government today announced a raft of changes affecting cycling in the State, including a metre passing rule for motorists and increased fines for not wearing a helmet.
Cycling Central

21 Dec 2015 - 6:50 PM  UPDATED 21 Dec 2015 - 6:52 PM

The metre passing laws will bring NSW in line with several states, but dramatically increased fines for behaviours like not wearing a helmet and new rules requiring the carrying of identification for those over 18 may prove to be more contentious.

Drivers travelling up to 60km/h will have to leave a minimum distance of at least one metre when passing cyclists and at least 1.5m when travelling faster.

If caught too close to cyclists, drivers will have to cough up $319.

The Amy Gillett Foundation welcomed the adoption of the new minimum overtaking distance.

“We are delighted with the Minister’s decision to introduce the trial,” Chairman Mark Textor said.

“As the fifth jurisdiction to adopt these changes, the NSW decision puts us one step closer to achieving the Foundation’s goal of having minimum overtaking distance laws in place Australia-wide.

“The leadership shown in NSW today sends a strong message to those states yet to adopt the ‘a metre matters’ rule that the time to make the change is now, and that the community supports and expects it.”

It will be also compulsory for adult cyclists to carry photo ID so they can be identified in an emergency or if they break road rules.

It's also recommended that cyclists allow a minimum distance of one metre when passing pedestrians on a shared path where practical.

Cyclists will also be slapped with much heftier fines designed to minimise altercations with NSW motorists.

The fine for not wearing a helmet, running a red light, riding dangerously, holding onto a moving vehicle, or not stopping at a pedestrian crossing is currently $71 but from 1 March will jump to between $319 and $425.

Asked how the new rules would be enforced, Roads Minister Duncan Gay said a higher police presence would catch cyclists and drivers.

He acknowledged the new rules wouldn't prevent all conflict between drivers and riders, saying everyone needed to take responsibility for their behaviour.

"All road users need to exercise respect when using the road," he said.

Centre for Road Safety executive director Bernard Carlon said he often sees people riding bikes without a helmet.

"If you're involved in a crash, you are 60 per cent more likely to suffer a severe brain injury if you're not wearing a helmet," he said.

About 11 cyclists were killed every year on NSW roads and more than 1500 were admitted to hospital for cycling crashes, he said.

The NSW Greens said that making roads safer for cyclists was welcome but criticised the punitive focus on cyclists.

"We will all benefit from a bike-friendly NSW, but the state government is going out of its way to make life harder and more dangerous for cyclists," Greens Transport spokeswoman Dr Mehreen Faruqi said.