The 1.5m rule applies to cyclists too! It’s been a challenging year, but New Zealanders have learned some key lessons around physical distancing and it is hoped this new knowledge will help reduce road cyclist fatalities.

A year ago, we hadn’t even heard of physical or social distancing, but that quickly changed as the coronavirus pandemic became a global concern. In New Zealand we were asked to maintain a physical distance of two metres when in public places, and one metre when in confined spaces, where contact tracing was possible.

Kiwis led the world with our adherence to social distancing rules, and quickly managed to stamp out the opportunity for coronavirus to take hold in our communities. We were an exemplar for working together and making small changes for the greater good of the vulnerable and elderly. 

Now we have an opportunity to transfer those lessons and make a great difference in the safety of our road cyclists. The distance required between a motorist and cyclist is 1.5 metres and if we had any doubt about estimating that distance in the past, we certainly have no excuses now, as our period of successful physical distancing during the Covid-19 pandemic has shown.

In 2019 there were 13 deaths of cyclists on our roads, which was more than double the year before. This year we have seen nine deaths of cyclists on our roads so far, which is an improvement on last year, but each death is still one too many. It is hoped that motorists will be far more vigilant in observing the 1.5 metre rule going forward, as they have absorbed the distancing message and gained a stronger ability to estimate that distance through the coronavirus pandemic.

As a result, we hope to see far fewer incidents on our roads this summer. So, for those motorists taking to the roads this summer remember: if in doubt, keep your 1.5m distance!

Credit: Graeme Murray