Draft Safety of Cyclists Regulations Open for Public Comment
Statement by Robin Carlisle, Minister of Transport and Public Works
The Western Cape Provincial Road Traffic Administration Act (6 of 2012) was passed in December 2012 and will come into effect on 1 June 2013.
The Act, in terms of section 8, gives the Minister the power to make regulations governing road safety matters, a critical weapon in the on-going battle against the carnage on the roads.
Section 8 (1) reads, “the Minister may make regulations, not inconsistent with this Act or the National Road Traffic Act, in respect of –
(b) any restrictions in respect of the use of lamps emitting a blue light or of sirens on vehicles operated by any person;
(c) the rights and duties of persons using pedal cycles on public roads and the duties of drivers of vehicles to ensure the safety of persons using pedal cycles…”
As per this Act, I have now published the Draft Safety of Cyclists Regulations that are aimed at ensuring the safety of cyclists (a vulnerable class of road user) and to create an environment in which non-motorised modes of transport are encouraged and made safer.
The draft regulations focus on a reciprocal duty and relationship that must exist between cyclists (who are most vulnerable on our roads when overtaken by faster moving cars, trucks and buses) and motorists alike.
The regulations require a driver of a motor vehicle to:
- Exercise due care while passing the cyclist.
- Leave a distance between the motor vehicle and the cyclist of at least one meter.
- Maintain that distance from the cyclist until safely clear of the cyclist.
Motorists may also only pass the cyclist, in the envisaged way, only if the roadway allows.
The regulations require a cyclist to:
- Keep as close as possible to the left edge of the roadway.
- Obey road traffic signs and rules.
- Fit and use effective front and rear lights when riding in hours of darkness and when visibility is limited.
- Not ride on the right-hand side of a motor-vehicle proceeding in the same direction, except when passing that motor vehicle or turning right at the intersection.
- Not ride abreast of another cyclist proceeding in the same direction, except when passing that cyclist.
- Not ride while wearing a headset, headphones or any listening device other than a hearing aid or while carrying another person on the pedal cycle, unless the pedal cycle is specifically equipped to carry more than one person.
Following the example of several States in the USA, where they have adopted a 3 foot passing gap in their legislation (equivalent to just less than a meter), the Draft Regulations will require the driver of a motor vehicle to keep a passing gap of at least one meter. A larger dimension of 1.5 meters was initially considered. However it was clear from global practice that 1 meter was more appropriate.
This was confirmed by very experienced traffic law officials.
The Safety for Cyclists Regulation will be a deeming regulation that would encourage the appropriate spatial relationship between motorists and cyclists.
The onus will be placed on any violator of this regulation, particularly when resulting in an injury or death, to show why they failed to adhere to the requirement. Failing which, the perpetrator would then be liable to a penalty for such non-compliance.
Failure of a driver or a cyclist to adhere to any provision of the regulations will be an offence and will be liable to a fine if found guilty.
The Draft Safety of Cyclists Regulations is open for public comment until 24 May 2013. Once the regulation is promulgated, it should mark the beginning of a more lawful and harmonious relationship between motorists and cyclists in the Western Cape.
Any person is invited to submit comment by 24 May 2013 to the following address, e-mail address or fax number:
Address: The Head of Department, Western Cape Department of Transport and Public Works, PO Box 2603, Cape Town, 8000
Fax: 021 483 2166