Bicycle Network: Bicycle Network Victoria Membership
Are there bike laws that confuse you?
Our partner law firm Maurice Blackburn explain the road rules and what it means for you.
Are there bike laws that confuse you?
Have you ever wondered if you're allowed to ride on the footpath? Maurice Blackburn's Senior Associate Carolyn Kovac explains.
Where can I ride?
Cyclists, like drivers of vehicles, are required to follow the Road Safety Road Rules 2009 and may be penalised for failing to do so. There are many rules to follow which can become confusing, particularly knowing where you can ride. Here are some answers provided by Maurice Blackburn Lawyers to some common questions asked by cyclists:
Do I have to ride in a bike lane/path?
When riding on the road where there is a marked bicycle lane, cyclists must ride in the bicycle lane unless it is impracticable to do so (s247).
A bicycle lane is a marked lane, or the part of a marked lane, beginning at a bicycle lane sign and ending at the nearest end bicycle lane sign, intersection (unless the lane is at the unbroken side of the continuing road at a T-intersection or continued across the intersection by broken lines) or the end of the road. It should also be noted that a cyclist must not ride alongside more than one other rider on a road (including a bicycle path and shared path) that is not a multi-lane road or in a marked lane, unless the cyclist is overtaking other cyclists (s151).
Can I ride on the footpath?
Generally, a cyclist who is 12 years old or above must not ride on a footpath (s250) or on a part of a separated footpath designated for the use of pedestrians (s249). There are however exceptions to this rule. A cyclist who is 18 years old or above, and is accompanying and supervising a child under 12 years of age who is riding a bicycle, may ride on the footpath (s250(1A)(a)).
Further, a cyclist who has a physical or intellectual disability which makes it 'undesirable, impracticable or inexpedient' for the cyclist to ride on the road, and they are able to present a medical certificate regarding same to a police officer or authorised person, are also permitted to ride on the footpath provided they are complying with the conditions (if any) stated on the certificate (s250(1A)(a)).
If one of the above exemptions applies, when riding on the footpath the cyclist must keep to the left of the footpath or shared path (unless it is impracticable to do so) and give way to any pedestrian on the footpath or shared path (s250(2)).
Can I cross at pedestrian crossings?
A cyclist must not ride across a road, or part of a road, on a pedestrian crossing or a children's crossing (s248(1)).
A pedestrian crossing is an area of a road with white stripes on the road surface that run lengthwise along the road and are of approximately the same length, are parallel to each other and are in a row that extends completely, or partly, across the road. They may be indicated with or without a pedestrian crossing sign and / or alternating flashing twin yellow lights.
A children's crossing is an area of a road with stop lines marked on the road, and children crossing flags or signs and twin yellow lights and is indicated by either two red and white posts erected on each side of the road, or two parallel continuous or broken lines on the road surface from one side of the road completely or partly across the road and extending across the road between the posts or lines.
Further, a cyclist must not ride across a road, or part of a road, on a marked foot crossing, unless there are bicycle crossing lights at the crossing showing a green bicycle crossing light (s248(2)).
Do cars need to be a certain distance away from me on the road?
The driver of a vehicle must not drive in a bicycle lane except where stopping or parking is permitted at a place in the bicycle lane, a driver may drive for up to 50 metres in the bicycle lane to stop or park at that place. Further, the driver of a public bus, public minibus or taxi may travel up to 50 metres in a bicycle lane if dropping off or picking up passengers.
How visible do lights need to be?
A cyclist must not ride at night, or in hazardous weather conditions causing reduced visibility, unless the bicycle, or the rider, displays the following:
- (a) a flashing or steady white light that is clearly visible for at least 200 metres from the front of the bicycle; and
- (b) a flashing or steady red light that is clearly visible for at least 200 metres from the rear of the bicycle; and
- (c) a red reflector that is clearly visible for at least 50 metres from the rear of the bicycle when light is projected onto it by a vehicle's headlight on low-beam (s259).
Although it is not a rule, it is recommended cyclists wear a brightly coloured top as it is more likely drivers will see you.