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CTC rejects calls to back minimum passing distance - but what do

Road.cc: CTC rejects calls to back minimum passing distance - but what do you think?

By Simon_MacMichael - Posted on 16 November 2009

The cyclists’ organisation CTC has rejected calls to throw its weight behind a campaign to introduce a five-foot-to-pass rule in the UK, and says that its priority is to improve the levels of enforcement of existing traffic laws.

Last week on road.cc, we reported how cycling safety campaigner Joe Mizereck, whose website www.3feetplease.com has helped have a three-foot minimum passing distance introduced in a number of states in the US, had backed moves to seek a five-foot minimum in the UK, and had thrown the gauntlet down for CTC to do likewise.

Such a rule would bring the country into line with several other EU member states where a 1.5-metre minimum passing distance has been adopted, such as Germany, Spain and, other than in urban areas where it is 1 metre, France.

Mizereck, who dreamt up his campaign’s ‘3 feet please’ cycling jersey, had initially suggested on road.cc that CTC back Tom Amos’s petition to have a similar rule implemented in the UK. But on learning that 1.5 metres was the law elsewhere in Europe, and that a separate petition had been launched seeking five-foot clearance, he agreed that it made sense for cyclists here to push for a minimum of five feet.

CTC doesn’t share his opinion, however. Its campaigns director, Debra Rolfe, told road.cc: “If we thought it was a good idea to support this, we’d be supporting it because we work for the cycling community and that’s what we’ve been doing for 130 years.”

According to Rolfe, “There’s very many ways that Britain differs from the rest of Europe in how it protects cyclists and this [the minimum passing distance] is only one of them. We feel like it’s a bit of a red herring and that legislating a minimum passing distance is not even going to begin to address the problems that we’re facing in the UK.”

She continued, “We feel that the major problem is the lack of traffic law enforcement and that’s why we’re running the Stop SMIDSY campaign, and one of the things we’re calling for in the Stop SMIDSY campaign is increased resources towards road traffic policing.”

As for Mizereck and his 3-foot-please campaign, Rolfe maintains that “sometimes with policy changes, they can’t be summarised on a T-shirt.”

But given the number and nature of comments road.cc has received on this subject during in recent weeks during our coverage of the three-foot petition and subsequent moves to seek a five-foot minimum instead, it’s clear that there are a lot of British cyclists out there who would like to see some kind of minimum safe passing distance enshrined in law.

It’s clear that irrespective of Mizereck’s involvement, it’s an issue is now a hot topic of debate in the UK cycling community, so tell us what you think – is CTC right in its current stance, or would you like to see them press for a minimum safe passing distance when overtaking on British roads?

We’ve put a poll up on road.cc, which you’ll find here, and we’re very interested in finding out what you think.