Bicycle Network: Behaviour
Cyclists' rights to use the road
What do you say when someone challenges you with: "Cyclists should get off the road because they don't pay for them"?
Do cyclists pay for the roads?
What do you say when someone challenges you with: "Cyclists should get off the road because they don't pay for them".
It's a selfish argument that ignores a few facts about the society we live in.
1. We all pay taxes
This includes taxes and fees on motor vehicle use. These taxes are consolidated by government and, hopefully, used to make society a better place for everyone, not just those who pay the most tax. This does not necessarily mean more and more roads.
2. Motor vehicle taxes don't cover the full cost of motor vehicle use anyway
People arguing for a full user-pay system should be careful what they ask for. Under this system motorists could end up paying twice the amount of tax to cover the health, pollution and congestion costs associated with motor vehicle use.
3. We can't afford not to provide more places to ride
Australia is in the midst of a physical inactivity and obesity epidemic that is already costing hundreds of millions of dollars each year. We have to do more to give people access to healthy places to live where they can walk and ride more. This does not mean more places for more motor vehicles.
Bicycles are the perfect healthy substitute for the average 3 km motor vehicle trip. And bicycle facilities are much more cost effective than facilities for motor vehicles or public transport.
4. It's the law: Bicycles are legal road users
Check out the road rules. On public roads, bicycles are legal road vehicles with the same rights and responsibilities as other vehicles.
Check out the info sheet and links (right) for a full dissertation. You'll have your facts at hand for your riposte!
Should cyclists only use off-road bike tracks?
What do you say to someone tells you to get on the bike track when you're riding on the road?
Some people think that cyclists should not be on the road, particularly if there is a shared path nearby.
There are a number of reasons why a cyclist chooses to ride on the road rather than a shared path and cyclists are not obligated to use a shared path if they prefer not to. We have outlined the reasons below:
1. The road rules
Bicycles are recognised as vehicles under the road rules and have a legal right to use the road and are covered by the same road rules. Faster moving vehicles can overtake when safe to do so. Freeways, which have high traffic speeds and volumes, are the only roads bicycles (and other slow moving vehicles) can’t use but new freeways usually provide a shared path alongside, such as the Western Ring Path and the Mitcham-Frankston Fwy shared path.
2. The advantages of riding on the road
Reasons why using the road is more appropriate and appealing for some cyclists are:
- They maintain right of way at intersections with minor roads
- They do not have to give way at entries to carparks (as trail users do)
- They can travel at higher speeds that are not appropriate on paths when sharing a relatively narrow path with other users
- There are often less obstacles on the road such as overhanging trees, bollards, rough surface and blind corners.
Training cyclists can travel at speeds in excess of 40km p/h. On Beach Rd the volume of cyclists using the road on weekend mornings exceeds the number of motor vehicles.
3. The disadvantages of riding on shared paths
In Melbourne we also have a network of shared paths through parkland and along waterways which are fantastic for people walking the dog, bike riding families, kids riding to school and recreational cyclists. Shared paths are wider than a footpath and bicycles can legally use them. Cyclists behaviour on shared paths is also covered in the road rules.
However shared paths are less useful for utility cyclists who are trying to get to work, other destinations or training. On shared paths cycle speeds are slower, the route is often less direct, and the space is shared with walkers, dogs, rollerbladers, skateboarders, prams and scooters.
An integrated cycling network
There are not enough paths or on-road bike lanes and we continue to campaign for four integrated networks: bike lanes on main roads, local roads, shared paths and rail trails. See our Campaigns Strategy for more information.
Bicycles are just another form of traffic using our public roads and Bicycle Network Victoria is working towards making them safer by getting more dedicated on-road bike lanes for cyclists to complement the off-road path network for recreational cyclists.