Victoria has introduced a road rule for motorists sharing the road with cyclists which could see drivers slapped with a $1652 fine.
From Monday, motorists must give riders at least one-metre clearance when overtaking on roads up to 60km/h, and 1.5 metres on roads with speed limits above 60km/h.
It means Victoria now has the same rule for passing cyclists as every other state and territory in Australia.
Roads Minister Ben Carroll said 13 cyclists lost their lives on Victoria's roads in 2020, an increase on the five-year average of 10 deaths.
He called it a “horrible” year on the road for cyclists in Victoria.
“These measures will ensure everyone has a safe place on our roads," Mr Carroll said in a statement on Friday.
"This new rule provides a clear direction on how much space motorists should give cyclists when passing. We all share the roads and need to look out for one another."
Under the updated rules, drivers and motorcyclists can briefly cross painted lines to give cyclists the space they need - including solid lines, double lines, painted tram lane lines and painted islands - but only when they have a clear view ahead and it's safe to do so.
Anyone overtaking incorrectly could face a $330 fine and two demerit points. If the matter proceeds through court, the fine can increase to $1652.
Mr Carroll said cyclists will need to follow the road rules as well, including by riding predictably, riding in bike lanes when they are provided and using hand signals to change direction.
Victoria's new road rule expected to save lives
National cycling safety charity the Amy Gillett Foundation welcomed the new rules.
"A metre matters because it can save a person's life, and these road rules will help our community avoid the terrible impact of road trauma," the charity's CEO Dan Kneipp said in a statement.
"Giving cyclists safe space when you drive helps everyone stay safe, and most importantly it makes cycling easier and more enjoyable for Victorians."
Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Shane Patton said enforcing the new rules could be difficult, but added it was more about education than punishment.
"It's about sending a message to everyone," he told 3AW radio.
"We'll be using discretion where appropriate and trying to educate drivers."
The Victorian government heard proposals to introduce the minimum distance passing laws in 2017 but turned them down.
Instead, the government focused on a 12-month education campaign to teach cyclists and drivers how to share the road.
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