Minimum passing distance laws

Minimum passing distance laws have been introduced in all states of Australia.



What are minimum passing distance laws? 

Minimum passing distance laws make sure people driving cars give comfortable clearance when passing or overtaking someone riding a bicycle.

Minimum passing distance laws have been a long-term goal for Australia’s bike riding community.

Amy Gillett Foundation’s A Metre Matters campaign has been active since 2009, calling for drivers to leave a gap of at least one metre when passing someone riding a bike.

In October 2015, South Australia became the first state to introduce minimum passing distance laws. One by one, each Australian state introduced the laws, with Victoria becoming the last state to do so in April 2021.

The rules

When overtaking someone riding a bicycle, drivers must allow a minimum distance of:

  • One metre, when the speed limit is 60km/h or less
  • 1.5 metres when the speed limit is more than 60km/h

To make passing easy, drivers can cross double or solid lines when overtaking someone riding a bike, as long they have a clear view and it is safe to do so.


key milestones

Bicycle Network announces public policy review into MPDL which included public submissions, a public debate and literature review. 

Bicycle Network made a submission to the Victorian Parliament cross-party Economy and Infrastructure Committee inquiry into passing distance laws. 

In the submission, Bicycle Network supported a five-year minimum passing distance trial in Victoria with six key conditions: 

  1. continue to focus on the safe systems approach
  2. make it clear that it’s a minimum distance
  3. the legislation should not apply to bikes in lanes in 50kmph or less zones
  4. supplement the law with a driver behaviour change program
  5. conduct a pre- and post-impact study
  6. instruct police to enforce the law.

Previously, Bicycle Network had not campaigned for MPDL. The change in policy was the result of a public policy review which collected research and held public hearings. 

The parlimentary inquiry makes the recommendation to change the road rules to include MPDL. 

Read the Inquiry into the Road Safety Road Rules 2009 (Overtaking Bicycles) Bill 2015 outcome.

The government announces that it will not legislate MPDL in Victoria. See the government’s response.

Instead, it outlined a two-stage approach to reduce the crash rate for bike riders:

  1. A year-long community education campaign designed to change motorists’ behaviours and attitudes towards cyclists. The campaign will be evaluated to examine the community’s response, its preparedness for a rule change and road safety outcomes, crash rates, road user behaviour and perceptions of safety.
  2. A trial of a minimum passing distance laws. However, the trial will only go forward if the community education campaign is ineffective. 

Bicycle Network Chief Executive Officer Craig Richards spoke of his disappointment following the announcement. 

“We are disappointed that the Victorian Government isn’t following the lead of other states turning MPDL into legislation,” Mr Richards said.

“It’s clear that bike riders want a MPDL and today’s announcement is a huge missed opportunity to bring Victoria into line and further reduce to the risk to bike riders on our roads.”

While Bicycle Network believes an education campaign is important, we’re also concerned that unless the education campaign incorporates strong behaviour change elements, it could be a wasteful use of limited government resources. 

“At the end of the day, we want the best outcome for all road users and we hope that the government’s new education campaign is strongly tied to behaviour change methodology.” 

“Studies show that in isolation, mass education/awareness campaign are not an effective way to create real behavioural change,” Mr Richards added. 

Following the announcement, Bicycle Network has evolved its position, calling for the introduction of MPDL, without a trial. 


Following a well-attended morning rally in support of cyclist safety, Greens MP Samantha Dunn’s MPDL bill was tabled in the Legislative Council. The bill passed by 21 votes to 17, with the Greens, Coalition and Sex Party voting for and Labor and S&F party opposed.

By day’s end, the bill was put to the vote in the Legislative Assembly, with the Labor government and Independent MP Don Nardella used their majority to scuttle it. 

Minimum passing distance laws were fully implemented in Tasmania on 27 September 2017.

WA McGown Government fulfills an election commitment and introduces minimum passing distance legislation, leaving Victoria and NT as the only state and territory who have yet to implement the law. 

TAC launches ‘Give the space to ride safe‘ campaign which includes TV, radio, online and outdoor advertising. 

Bicycle Network alongside a number of other stakeholders including the Amy Gillet Foundation, were involved in the development of the campaign and was part of the group that advised the TAC and agency that created the ads. 

Read more >

Bicycle Network pushed for minimum passing distance law as part of their Victorian election campaign

Bicycle Network is calling for the introduction of a special policing unit to enforce the safe passing of people who ride bikes on the road.

A key ask of Bicycle Network’s pre-budget submission for 2019-20 in New South Wales and Victoria is not only the introduction of the law in Victoria but a program of active enforcement and widespread education.

Bicycle Network would like to see state governments in both states invest in an enforcement program that mirrors the successful Operation Close Pass by West Midlands Police in the UK.


Bicycle Network renews calls for minimum passing distance law and enforcement unit as part of our Budget Submission 2020/21.

See the submission.

Motoring group RACV has joined the calls for minimum passing distance laws to be introduced in Victoria and have asked the state government to release results from the 2017 Share the Road campaign.

Read more >

Bicycle Network once again renewed calls for the introduction of minimum passing distance law as part of our six month stimulus plan, Pedalling to a better normal. The plan provides actions that can be implemented immediately in response to the economic and health challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. 


On 7 October 2020 the Victorian state government announced that minimum passing distance laws would be introduced during 2021.

The announcement was made at the same time as funding for pop-up bike lanes to encourage more people to ride during COVID-19.


Minimum passing distance laws were made active in Victoria from Monday 26 April 2021. 

Why do the laws exist?

Minimum passing distance laws give more people confidence to ride a bike.

Minimum passing distance laws help both regular bike riders and also people who are interested in bike riding, but have concerns about sharing the road motor vehicles.

Knowing that cars will pass at a comfortable distance makes people of all ages confidence to jump on a bike and ride. It will help more children and families ride to school together. It will help more people cruise to the shops on a bike. It will help more people explore Australia’s great natural beauty on two wheels.

Minimum passing distance laws are part of the mix that will make Australia a nation of bike riders.

Bicycle Network campaign for minimum passing distance laws (MPDL)

The facts: 

  • In Australia, 20% of bike-vehicle collisions involve a vehicle overtaking a bike rider.
  • Following minimum passing distance legislation introduced in Queensland, only 12% of passes on roads at low speed sites were non-compliant.
  • However, driver non-compliance is associated with high speed roads, narrow roads, and curved road sections. This highlights the need for infrastructural changes to complement the laws.

In the news

Minimum passing distance laws locked in

Minimum passing distance laws will be active in Victoria from Monday 26 April 2021.

Minimum passing distance laws and pop-up lanes coming to Victoria

Minimum passing distance laws are set for Victoria and 100km of quick-build bike lanes will pop up in inner-Melbourne to help us reach COVID normal.

RACV joins the call for passing laws

Motoring group RACV has joined the calls for minimum passing distance laws to be introduced in Victoria.

Reporting minimum passing distance breach

Reporting drivers who breach the minimum passing distance laws isn’t a simple process, which is why we’ve produced a guide with Tasmania Police.

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