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Group seeks 1.5 metres minimum passing distance for motorists overtaking bicycles

1point5 launch
Phil Skelton of Stayin’ Alive at 1.5 with Sean Kelly

A petition to make 1.5 metres the minimum passing distance for motorists overtaking people cycling was launched last Friday.

The Stayin’ Alive at 1.5 petition was launched by the Irish cycling champion Sean Kelly.

At the time of writing the petition had nearly 700 names to it already.

Stayin’ Alive at 1.5 describes itself as a non-profit campaign to pursue the adoption of a law that requires motorists to give cyclists 1.5 metres clearance when passing from the rear.

A number of European countries have a passing distance spelled out in law. France for example has a passing distance of 1.5 metres, reduced to 1 metres in urban areas where speeds are expected to be lower.

In September, when California became one of the latest jurisdictions to have a safe distance passing law, the LA Times reported: “Statewide regulations will require drivers to stay at least three feet away from cyclists while passing. If traffic is too heavy to change lanes, or if other conditions make a three-foot buffer impossible, drivers must slow to a “reasonable and prudent” speed and wait to pass until the cyclist is safe. Until now, California drivers were required to pass bicycles at ‘a safe distance,’ but the law did not specify what that meant.”

You can find the Irish petition here. is reader-funded journalism. That means it's funded by readers like you.

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Cian Ginty


  1. We have a defacto passing distance of 1.5 already according to the RSA when they show that Video on TV in a Safety film involving Cyclists except that it is not quite passed in law. However in the Urban setting in Dublin City for instance even in tightly packed Traffic situations when the distance is only a few inches the Traffic does not slow down. It just thunders past you and there is the fear it will knock you off your Bicycle.

    Even if this Law is eventually set in stone there is no enforcement to make sure Motorists abide by it. Any hour of the day even outside the peak hours when there is very little Traffic , Motorists just speed past Cyclists very close to them. Very few if any actually slow down. The Motorists need to be Educated on how to drive safely to protect Cyclists. None of them seem to know what an ASL stop line is either , they just encroach on them at Traffic lights Cars Buses Taxis.

  2. Light touch RSA recommendations will never have the desired effect unless backed up with clear law. It didn’t work with drink driving, texting drivers, etc. The full effect is experienced when clear (not light touch) awareness campaigns are backed up by law.

  3. @ John: My understanding is that if it was in law, it would be easier to prosecute and/or claim damages if the passing law was in place and a motorist hit you.

    And without getting hit, the reporting of dangerously close overtaking would at least have the possibility of being taken seriously.

  4. Sorry Phil and Cian , I did not mean it should not be brought in just that most of the Laws are just ignored anyway until someone is knocked down.

    If only they just slowed right down while passing very close . They do not allow for a Bike to wobble a bit or for the backdraft of a high sided vehicle like a Bus sucking you into it.


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