Equipment and On Road Behaviour, Laws and Rules. Cycling Promotion and Advocacy
17 posts • Page 1 of 1
This page is a summary of how the Australian road rules apply in each state, as well as other road legislation that may apply to bicycles. I have used much of the information from the excellent Summary of Qld Road Rules by InTheWoods, which are based on the Australian road rules and so are largely consistent with that applying in other states. WA is a special case, in that while based on the Australian Road Rules, the wording is slightly difference and the numbering is very different.
Whilst the rules are largely consistent, the penalties for breaching the rules, whether Court imposed or by a penalty notice, vary considerably in each jurisdiction. The references to rules are to the Australian Road Rules, unless there is a different provision in a particular state or territory.
Some of the published road rules for bicycles are clear and specific, others require some interpretation, and some types of cycling specific situations aren't specifically covered (example: lane filtering) and you need to make sure any other relevant rules are followed. This thread is not about if the rules are appropriate or not, but rather to set out the current rules.
This thread is intended only to provide a summary of the rules. It does not purport to be comprehensive nor to render legal advice. No reader should act on the basis of any matter contained in this thread without first obtaining specific professional advice.
The road rules for each state can be found by following the links below
Queensland Transport Operations (Road Use Management—Road Rules) Regulation 2009
NSW Road Rules 2008.
Victoria Road Safety Road Rules 2009.
Tasmania Road Rules 2009.
WA Road Traffic Act 1974 and Road Traffic Code 2000.
SA Australian Road Rules and Road Traffic (Road Rules—Ancillary and Miscellaneous Provisions) Regulations 1999
ACT Road Transport (Safety and Traffic Management) Australian Road Rules
NT Traffic Regulations, Schedule 3.
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.
- 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 Roads 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)
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)
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. For more detail see alcohol, riding & the law.
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
Last edited by Mulger bill on Sat Apr 14, 2012 7:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Made sticky
I received an interesting PM asking about bunch riding that I thought deserved a wider audience. Whether you call it a bunch, group, peloton or echelon, it is a difficult area in relation to the road rules. I suspect that the drafters of the road rules did not even consider group riding. Instead they would seem to be more addressed at motorcycle gangs.
In fact the only specific rules that I am aware of is for Centennial Park in NSW
The first issue was the suggestion that
The point about 2 groups passing appears to me to be arguable, but I suspect it would not succeed, principally because the language used in road rule 151(3) is in the singular "The rider ... is ... overtaking the other riders" This would also suggest that 2 riders abreast are not permitted to overtake a single rider. WA reg 130(1) is in essentially the same terms
The second question was
This is actually more straight forward to answer than it first appears - because the road rules do not apply to a group of riders, but rather to each individual rider within the group. It follows that the individual rider who peels off is then overtaken by each of the other riders in the group.
The other issue with group riding is that it may be in breach of road rule 126
Again WA reg 109 is in similar terms.
I have not heard of any cyclists being charged with breaching road rule 126 or 151, but the same could be said of the vast majority of road rules.
That could rapidly change however, all it takes is someone to be outraged, such as the groups running red lights or an accident, and someone starts trawling through the road rules to see what they can be charged with.
does WA's 126 have an exception for bicycles where they can follow another vehicle closely for up to 250metres? Qld does, so it negates the following too closely rule, so as long as the bunch does rolling turns that do not have a rider behind another for more than 250 metres it should be OK. but seriously who is going to be pinged for it?
Oxford the reference to 126 was to the Australian road rules which are precisely the same as in Qld. I think you are referring to road rule 255 which provides that
Because it only applies to following a motor vehicle I don't think it will help.
I agree entirely with you that it is unlikely that anyone will be booked for it & I said as much.
had to check that, I must admit to not seeing (probably choosing to ignore) the "motor" in front of vehicle in 255. also realised its 200 metres, not 250.
Here is a PDF outlining some specific SA requirements
http://www.sa.gov.au/upload/franchise/T ... __web_.pdf
Note that when riding in a bicycle lane dedicated as such then you must ride in single file if there is not enough space to ride two abreast (unless one is passing another).
Thanks for that Philmart. It seems pretty well written for a government broachure & I agree with almost all of it.
Not sure about the idea that you can lose demerit points of a driving licence for cycling offences. I don't have time at the moment but will try & remember to come back & look at the specific legislation
I have a question about riding on the footpath, rule 250 in NSW.
http://www.legislation.nsw.gov.au/maint ... 008+cd+0+N
Is a child under 12 considered a rider if he is being carried in child seat by an adult rider?
There is a tricky section of my route to my child's daycare that is void of a cycle path, shared path or road to safely cycle on, at least with a child on the back. I use a footpath alongside a golf course that is rarely used by pedestrians but commonly used by cyclists, but not designated as a shared path as far as I can tell. It was pointed out to me in a discussion I had with a policeman about another issue that I may have been breaking this rule 250. Or is my child on the back considered a rider under my supervision? Or do I have to get off and walk the bike?
Short answer - no. The child is not riding the bicycle, he/she is a passenger.
However your particular problem may depend on the nature of this "footpath". Is it a footpath alongside a road, or just a path through a park? Or a shortcut path joining two roads.... a 'cut-through'?
Footpaths alongside roads have a general exclusion, but paths through reserves and vacant land are just paths. If the park is signed 'no bikes' or the path has signs then you are prohibited from riding, otherwise you may go ahead. For a short distance to join two access routes I would not worry too much. In the very unlikely event you were to be fined, a suitable appeal to the magistrate on the grounds of access would stand a strong chance.
BTW I am not a lawyer.
Riding bikes in traffic - what seems dangerous is usually safe; what seems safe is often more dangerous.
Sorry to be the 3rd person to give you bad news, but I agree with the police officer & il padrone. What it turns on is the definition of rider in s 17
Logically it makes little sense - a little one in a child seat is a passenger & therefore neither of you are permitted on the footpath, but if your child was slightly older and on a weehoo, trail back or similar, then there is a good argument your child is not just a passenger & you both are permitted on the footpath.
It seems to me you have a few options
I reckon you'd be lucky to get this through. A child in a tagalong would still be regarded as simply a passenger. The key reason for allowing the exemption for children on footpaths is that they are in control of a bicycle but lack the expertise/skills/road knowledge to interact on the road with traffic. As an adult you ride there to supervise them, but cannot control them. On a tagalong they are still in your control like on a kiddie-seat, so their lack of experience is immaterial.
It would be the same if I rode with a 9 yo on my tandem - this would not give me carte-blanche to ride on footpaths.
Riding bikes in traffic - what seems dangerous is usually safe; what seems safe is often more dangerous.
thanks for the replies everyone.
It does make sense that the child in a seat is a passenger, not a rider.
But considering how conservative and cautious parents are when transporting their children on bicycles, it seems to me that the 12 and under exception should be extended to kids in child seats. For example, there is no way my wife will ride with my son on a road that is even slightly busy, and I don't fault her for it. Given that parents and guardians are, or should be, riding conservatively with kids on board, there shouldn't be much increase in risk to pedestrians IMHO.
Sigh. In the meantime I'm going to do as find_bruce suggests and write a letter to the council.
The greatest irony of riding bikes in traffic - what seems dangerous is usually safe; what seems safe is often more dangerous.
If you are safe, experienced and confident enough to ride in traffic on your own bike, why on earth is it any different or more dangerous with a child in a kiddy-seat, trailer, tagalong or tandem back seat??? It is very much the same principle as that behind 'claiming the lane' in traffic - make yourself very visible, confident and show clear intentions and the traffic around you will deal with that. Certainly the prospect of a collision with your child is untenable.... horrific!! But if I thought there was such a real likelihood then I would not even ride my bike solo on roads at all.
Personally we used a trailer for our kids. It was great. I was not prepared to face the real chance that the bike may fall, even stationary, with them in the seat, with distressing results. The trailer has a very obvious profile especially for traffic approaching from behind. We were always given metres of space, even on busy main roads.
Riding bikes in traffic - what seems dangerous is usually safe; what seems safe is often more dangerous.
I'm still puzzled by what is meant by 'abreast'. If I am riding directly beside another rider, knuckle to knuckle our wheels will be 50cm apart. If we are taking up the full 1.5m apart as allowed, our wheels will be 2m apart at the point where they contact the road.
In contrast with a strong diagonal (apparent) wind our wheels could be as close as 20cm in the context of riders riding cooperatively in a group. Does a half-wheel overlap count as abreast? In this context half a dozen riders could easily ride in the same space as 'two abreast' but could they be booked for it?
Well you need to first of all check the defintions in your state's road code to determine if the term is defined and if not use a dictionary where the reasonable man (person) principal would I assume, applies ...
The Macquarie Dictionary defines abreast as:
Common sense would suggest  and  apply in this context.
Actually the second definition is also relevant - "keeping up with, staying alongside" applies to riding or walking as equally as it does with keping up to date.
Please be aware that the term Bike Lane in QLD simply means that other vehicles cannot TRAVEL in that lane.
However they can legally park in them.
As a result in QLD there is in actuality no such thing as road based specific bicycle infrastructure.
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