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One metre cyclist overtaking law in the works

SA motorists will have to leave a 1m gap when overtaking cyclists under a proposal from the state government.

South Australian motorists will have to leave at least a 1m gap when overtaking cyclists and riding on footpaths will be permitted under proposed laws backed by Premier Jay Weatherill.

Legislation for the 1m overtaking law, which is being trialled in Queensland, will be introduced after Parliament resumes early next month.

Responding yesterday to a Citizens' Jury report aimed at ensuring cyclists and motorists share roads safely, Mr Weatherill said the measures stemmed from increasing concerns about how they interacted.

He said laws allowing the common practice of riding on footpaths would be introduced after a consultation period, to be finished by June.

South Australia's present law about overtaking cyclists says vehicles should allow "sufficient room".

To keep a safe distance you really do need a metre to be safe

The RAA has warned that enforcing the 1m would be difficult, but Amy Gillett Foundation research into the two-year Queensland trial, which started last April, has found it is generally accepted by road users.

The 1m law has previously drawn support across the political divide, including from the Greens, federal Liberal Jamie Briggs and the conservative Queensland government.

Mr Weatherill yesterday agreed with Queensland's transport minister, who has said the overtaking law is designed to change road safety attitudes, not fine people.

"Obviously the current law is a safe distance, which is equally difficult to police. It's really sending a message to motorists and cyclists to respect one another," he told The Advertiser.

"To keep a safe distance you really do need a metre to be safe. It's a powerful cultural message that we're sending about staying safe on our roads." RAA mobility and automotive policy senior manager Mark Borlace said the overtaking law would require pragmatic policing and a comprehensive education campaign.

"We were worried that it may still be a cause of antagonism between bike riders and car drivers," he said.

Mr Borlace said the RAA had supported almost all of the Citizens' Jury recommendations and hoped Queensland's experience with the overtaking law would be repeated in SA.

Amy Gillett's mother, Mary Safe, said requiring motorists to leave a 1m gap would be worthwhile if it saved even one cyclist's life.

Her daughter, a South Australian, was killed by an out-of-control car in Germany in 2005 when she was cycling with her national track teammates.

Mrs Safe stressed the new overtaking laws would help both cyclists and motorists.

The Government would develop laws to allow cyclists of all ages to ride on footpaths

"There's no motorist on Earth who wants to live with the knowledge that with their vehicle they maimed a person...or, at the worst, killed them," she said.

The foundation's research into the Queensland trial found 67 per cent of all road users agreed with the law and 61 per cent of cyclists had experienced motorists leaving a greater overtaking distance.

Mr Weatherill said the Government would develop laws to allow cyclists of all ages to ride on footpaths, removing a $45 fine that now applies to all but children under 12.

He also said Adelaide City Council would be approached about trialling changes to speed limits and traffic flows.

The Citizens' Jury report, released in November, recommended a 40km/h speed limit trial in the CBD, excluding West Terrace, and testing some one-way streets.

Initial funds of $250,000 will be allocated to a "Greenways and Bicycle Boulevard program", which will include a focus on bike lanes that end suddenly and black spots.

Mr Weatherill said this program would be funded in this year's State Budget. "We support the vast majority of the jury's recommendations and will further investigate the remaining ones," Mr Weatherill said.

Brisbane cyclist Irene Maka, visiting for the Tour Down Under, said the Queensland overtaking rule had improved road safety. "I've found vehicles have been much more courteous, either pulling back or giving us that distance."