A NATIONAL SUMMARY OF ROAD RULES FOR CYCLISTS

YOUR CHANCE TO BRUSH UP AND GET YOUR HEAD AROUND THE RULES THAT AFFECT YOU AS A CYCLIST.

Win arguments on the internet. Help educate new riders or those who need a reminder. Win the Saturday night pub quiz. Best of all, annoy the hell out of the haters, because road opinions are not a substitute for the road rules and they know it.

  • Can I ride on the road?
    – Yes, a bicycle is a “vehicle”, and a cyclist is a “rider”. Unless the rules expressly say otherwise, driver includes a rider and driving includes riding. If you are walking beside and pushing a bicycle you are not a rider or driver, but rather a pedestrian. See rules 15, 16, 17 and 19, WA Act section 5 and rule 3.

    But:
    – You cannot cycle on a road where there is a sign saying no bicycles (rule 252, WA reg 218).

  • – You must use the cycleway on the Sydney Harbour Bridge (regulation 51 Road Regulation 2008)

    – You must not ride on a freeway in Victoria without a “reasonable excuse” (s68(1A) Road Safety Act 1986
    – You must use a bicycle lane rather than the road where it is practicable to do so (rule 247). WA reg 213 requires you to use the lane if it “is in a reasonable condition for use

    Some things that might make it impracticable to ride in a bicycle lane include glass or other debris, cars are parked in or next to the lane so that you would be unable to avoid an open car door without leaving the lane or you are overtaking another cyclist. If you are stopped by a police officer, you should be prepared to point out the particular hazards as to why it was not practicable to ride in the bicycle lane.

    However, to be specific, a “bicycle lane” is a marked lane which starts with a bicycle lane sign post and ends with an end bicycle lane sign or an intersection where the marked lane doesn’t continue (rule 153, WA reg 3 and 132).
     

    NONE of the following are a bicycle lane, so you do not have to use them (rule 153, WA reg 3):
    a) a shared footpath
    b) pretty much any kind of path that’s not on the road
    c) council style bike routes on road shoulders which involve painting a white bicycle on the road shoulder every x meters, usually with cars parking in the same space. Unless it has a proper sign, it is *not* a bike lane.
    d) because bicycle path is separately defined from a bicycle lane, there is a good argument that you are not required to use a bicycle path, even if it runs alongside a road. (rule 153, 239(4) WA reg 3)

    If you are stopped by a police officer, you should politely ask the officer to identify the required bicycle lane sign.

    But won’t I be obstructing other drivers when cycling on the road?
    You are not allowed to unreasonably obstruct another driver or pedestrian (rule 125(1) WA reg 108(2)).
    However, you are *not* unreasonably obstructing if you are 
    a) stopped in traffic (rule 125(2)(a) WA reg 108(3)(a)) ; or
    b) you are driving slower than other vehicles (unless you are driving abnormally slowly in the circumstances). (rule 125(2)(b) WA reg 108(3)(b)).
    A cyclist isn’t being abnormal in their circumstances if they are going slower than other vehicles, because it is normal for a cyclist to be slower than cars on the open road, therefore you are not breaking this rule.

    Do I have to give way to cars?
    Sometimes – only where you are required to by the same road rules that apply to all vehicles.
    Except for a specific rule regarding roundabouts and a few other very rare cases, essentially the same giving way rules apply equally to cars and bicycles.

    Can I ride in a Bus Lane?
    Queensland you can ride in a “bus lane or a “bus only lane” (rule 154)
    NSW you can ride in a “bus lane”, but not a “bus only lane” (rule 154 & 158(2))
    Victoria, Tasmania, SA, WA, ACT & NT you are not allowed to ride in a “bus lane” or a “bus only lane” (rule 154 & 158, WA regs 132 & 136)

    Can I do a hook turns? 
    Yes you are allowed to do hook turns even when there is no sign saying hook turns allowed (rule 35 WA reg 28).
    You cannot do a hook turn if there is a sign saying no hook turns by bicycles (rule 36 WA reg 29).

    Can I pass cars on their left?
    Yes, as long as you do not do so when a vehicle is turning left and indicating left. (rule 141(2) WA reg 122(4)).
    You can also overtake on the left when cars are allowed to overtake on the left eg
    – its a multi lane road and its safe to do so in a marked lane to the left of the vehicle (rule 141(1)(a) WA reg 122(2))
    – the vehicle is turning right/u turning, indicating right, and its safe to overtake to the left (rule 141(1)(b) WA reg 122(3))
    – the vehicle is stationary and it is safe to overtake to the left (rule 141(1)(c) no direct equivalent in WA, but WA reg 122(3) probably covers it)

    Can I lane filter? (ie. cycle down the space between 2 lanes of traffic)
    There is no rule against it. However there are some rules that still may apply:
    – On a multi-lane road, you must drive within a single marked lane (no part of you or your bike should straddle a lane marking) (rule 146 WA reg 126).
    – You must leave sufficient distance to avoid a collision or obstructing the path of a vehicle (rule 144(a) WA reg 124(a))
    – You must not return to the lane/line of traffic where the overtaken vehicle is until there is sufficient distance to avoid a collision, or causing an obstruction to the path of the vehicle. (rule 144(b) WA reg 124(b))
    – When entering a bicycle storage area, you must enter it via a bicycle lane so you can’t filter into it. (rule 247A WA reg 215A)

    Do I have to stop at a red light?
    Yes. (rules 56 & 260 WA reg 40 & 225). This includes an ordinary stop light, plus a red bicycle crossing light

    Can I ride on the road’s shoulder?
    Yes you can.
    But at intersections, or when re-entering the road (eg needing to go back onto the road itself to go around a parked car), you will need to give way to all other traffic. (rule 87 WA reg 68).
    The same thing applies when you are riding in a council style bike route (the ones on the shoulder with white bicycles painted on the road, often used for car parking). You will need to give way whenever re-entering traffic or at intersections. 

    Can I drive in the middle of a road lane?
    On a single lane road, you must drive as near as practicable to the far left side of the road. (rule 129 WA reg 112)
    This does not require you to ride on the shoulder, as the shoulder is only a road related area, not a road. (rules 11 & 13) In WA the requirement is phrased differently, WA reg 112 refers to the left boundary of the carriageway, which presumably refers to either a continuous white edge line referred to in WA reg 129 or else the edge of the road surface.
    On a multilane road, yes you can ride in the middle of any road lane and you are not required to keep to the left lane as long as the speed limit is less than 80 km/h (90 km/h in WA) and there is no keep left unless overtaking sign. (rule 130 WA reg 113)

    Can I ride 2 abreast?
    Yes (rule 151, WA reg 130).
    But you must not ride over 1.5m away from the other rider.
    You can effectively ride 3 abreast as long as the 3rd rider is overtaking the other two.
    In WA there is the additional restriction that you cannot ride on a path alongside another rider, unless one rider is overtaking the other (WA reg 130(3))

    Can I ride on the footpath?
    Queensland Tasmania, ACT & NT Yes you can (rule 250)
    NSW, Victoria & SA No you can’t, unless you are under 12 or supervising a child under 12 (rule 250, SA reg 25 Road Traffic (Road Rules—Ancillary and Miscellaneous Provisions) Regulations 1999 WA reg 216)
    WA No you can’t, unless you are under 12 (WA reg 216)

    If you can ride on the footpath, you must keep to the left of the path where it is practicable, and must give way to pedestrians. (rule 250)
    You must keep to the left of oncoming cyclists on the path. (rule 251)
    You can’t ride on a path where it is signed that bicycles aren’t allowed. (rule 252)

    Roundabouts
    If you are on a multi-lane roundabout, and you are turning right, you may choose to use the left lane around the whole roundabout (whereas cars cannot, they must use the right lane if they are leaving a roundabout more than halfway around it unless otherwise marked). (rule 111 WA reg 92(6))
    However a cyclist in the left lane must give way to any vehicle leaving the roundabout at each exit from the roundabout. (rule 119 WA reg 100)

    Other things you can’t do… 
    You must sit astride the seat facing forwards (rule 245 WA reg 211)
    You can’t ride with no hands (rule 245 WA reg 211)
    You can’t dink – note you can have multiple people on a bike where it is designed to do so (rule 246 WA reg 212)
    You can’t ride across a children’s crossing, or pedestrian crossing (rule 248 WA reg 214).
    You can’t ride across a marked foot crossing unless there is a green bicycle crossing light for you. (rule 248 WA reg 214)
    You can’t create a hazard by moving into the path of a driver or pedestrian – so don’t swerve out in front basically (rule 253 WA reg 219)
    You can’t be towed by another vehicle, or hold onto another vehicle while the vehicle is moving. (rule 254 WA reg 220)
    You can’t ride within 2m of the rear of a moving car continuously for more than 200m (rule 255 WA reg 221)
    You can only tow a child under 10 in a bicycle trailer (rule 257 WA reg 223).
    You can’t use a mobile phone in your hand while riding (rule 300 WA reg 265).
    You can’t lead an animal eg a dog, including by tethering it to your bike (rule 301 WA reg 267).
    You can’t use your super bright bike lights to dazzle other road users (rule 219). In WA the prohibition is limited to a spot light or search light fitted to the vehicle (WA reg 186)

    Queensland you must not ride a bicycle dangerously, without due care and attention or without reasonable consideration for other persons using the road (subsections 84(1) & (2) Transport Operations (Road Use Management) Act 1995)
    NSW you must not ride a bicycle negligently, furiously or recklessly (NSW road rule 245-1).
    Victoria you must not ride a bicycle dangerously or if you are on a highway, carelessly (subsections 64(2A) and 65(2) Road Safety Act 1986
    WA you must not ride a bicycle recklessly or without due care and attention. (WA reg 229)
    NTYou must not ride a bicycle in a public place negligently or recklessly or at a speed or in a manner dangerous to the public (section 30 Traffic Act)

    Safety gear
    You must wear an approved bicycle helmet, securely fitted. (rule 256).
    You must have at least 1 effective brake (rule 258)
    You must have a bell or similar warning device in working order (rule 258).
    At night or in hazardous weather conditions that cause reduced visibility (heavy rain?!), you must display:
    a) a flashing or steady white light that is clearly visible for 200m from the front
    b) a flashing or steady red light that is clearly visible for 200m from the rear
    c) a red reflector that is clearly visible for at least 50m from the rear when hit by headlights on low beam (rule 259)

    Riding under the influence of alcohol
    In most states and territories it is an offence to ride under the influence of alcohol. But there is no prescribed concentration of alcohol and you cannot be stopped for a random breath test. 

    Can I be booked for speeding on a bicycle?
    Yes – the reference to a driver includes a cyclist and you are required to comply with applicable speed limits. (rule 20) In relation to bike paths or shared paths, there may be scope to argue that they are not part of a road related area. There may also be issues about whether the particular speed limit sign was put up with the correct authority.
    NSW the usual way of dealing with speeding offences though is to issue a penalty notice in accordance with the [url]Road Transport (General) Regulation 2005 (NSW)[/url].. In relation to speeding (road rule 20) they are set out by reference to the class of motor vehicle. Because a bicycle is not a motor vehicle of any class, a police officer cannot issue a penalty notice for speeding on a bicycle. Accordingly the only way to enforce speed limits in relation to a cyclist is to issue a court attendance notice. If the offence is proven, a cyclist who exceeds the speed limit by 30 km per hour or less will be liable to a fine, which may be as high as $2,200, but probably much less.

    If I get booked on my bike, do I lose points off my licence?
    NSW No – you only lose points for offences relating to the driving or use of motor vehicles (section 15 Road Transport (Driver Licensing) Act 1998)

  • Other states no, reasons coming soon