Victoria are the final Australian state or territory to update this specific road rule, after a 10-year campaign by the Amy Gillett Foundation (AGF).
The introduction of 'a metre matters' rule in Victoria is set to make it clear for how all road users - including cyclists and drivers - can safely share the road.
The AGF and leading mobility advocate, Royal Automobile Club of Victoria (RACV), have welcomed the Victorian government's announcement made on Wednesday morning (AEDT).
"Today’s announcement is a huge step forward for cycling in Victoria. We’ve advocated tirelessly for a metre matters in Victoria and today the cycling community celebrates the hard work of all of our partners and supporters who understand this update makes it safer for both cyclists and drivers sharing the road,” AGF CEO, Dan Kneipp said.
The updated road rule will require Victorians to leave a minimum of 1 metre distance while passing a cyclist in speed zones of 60km/h or lower, and 1.5 metres when passing in speed limits of over 60km/h.
The introduction of 'a metre matters' also follows a two-year public education campaign in Victoria to ‘give the space to bike riders’.
Every other Australian state and territory have already updated this road rule, with Queensland first introducing a trial of 'a metre matters' back in 2014.
AGF Research, Policy Manager and Senior Researcher at the Monash University Institute of Transport Studies, Dr Marilyn Johnson, has led the 'a metre matters' campaign since 2009.
“It’s taken over a decade but today is a great day for road safety for both cyclists and drivers. The original road rule was vague and didn’t provide drivers with any guidance," Dr Johnson said.
"With today’s announcement, the road rule is clear, now we know the minimum space to give when we drive passed a cyclist, it’s consistent nationally and will provide a safe space around everyone riding every kind of bike on every road."
Kneipp also added: “We congratulate the Minister for Roads and Road Safety, Ben Carroll, and the Victorian government for their support for cycling and their commitment to making our roads safe for all road users. Safety for cyclists is about stopping preventable death, injury and trauma for both drivers and people riding bikes."
Minister for Roads and Road Safety, Ben Caroll said: "The coronavirus pandemic is changing the way we move around Melbourne – that’s why we’re building over 100km of pop-up bike lanes, providing an alternative for shorter trips and making it easier and safer to get to and from the CBD."
"We also know that giving people cycling that little bit of extra space can help us all get home safely – so we’re introducing minimum passing distances, to keep cars and cyclists safety apart and save lives on our roads."
RACV Senior Manager for Transport, Peter Kartsidimas said: “Now, more than ever, we need both cyclists and motorists to feel safe on our transport network and a minimum passing distance can play a significant part in ensuring everyone gets home safely."
The Victorian government also announced plans to introduce 100 kilometres worth of new cycling routes across key inner-Melbourne suburbs.
Aimed at relieving congestion for cyclists travelling to and from the CBD, the $13 million investment also includes temporary bike lanes.
"Temporary separated bike lanes will help people who want to ride, and make the road work for people who need to drive,” Kneipp said.
“We can’t move out of lockdown and into gridlock, and investment in safe separated cycling infrastructure is the solution."