Keeping up to date with changes in legislation and understanding how they can impact you is critical to ensuring your safety whilst cycling. Even the most experienced cyclists can be vulnerable on the roads.
It’s important to note that laws differ from state to state; what you can do in one state, you may not be able to do in another. We’ve outlined the key rules and regulations that you should be aware of in your state before hitting the road.
- Cyclists are now able to make a claim for compensation when there has been a direct collision with a stationary motor vehicle. This amendment means that cyclists are not limited to only making a claim with the Transport Accident Commission (TAC) if the cyclist was riding to and from their place of employment and hit a moving vehicle, a car door or stationary vehicle
- When riding a bike, holding or touching a mobile phone is prohibited. Mobile phones usage includes video calls, texting and emailing. Mobile phones may only be used as navigational devices/GPS if they are fixed to a bike and in ‘hands free’ mode. If a cyclist is caught using a mobile phone the penalty is a fine of $476.
- Cyclists who are engaged in an organised professional race and subsequently injured by an unauthorised vehicle are now potentially entitled to make a claim for compensation
- Victoria is now the only Australian state without minimum passing distance laws or a trial in progress.
New South Wales
- Drivers must ensure there is at least a one metre distance when passing a bicycle rider and at least 1.5 metres on higher speed roads. If a driver cannot safely pass a cyclist, the driver is to slow down and wait for the next safe opportunity to do so
- Cyclists may ride two abreast, but no more than 1.5 metres apart on roadways
- On 23 July 2018, the NSW Government allowed children under 16 years to ride on a footpath. This number has increased from the previous age of 12 years and under.
- Cyclists must ensure there is at least 2 metres between their bike and the back of the vehicle in front when following a motor vehicle for over 200 metres
- Cyclists must ride within 1.5 metres of each other when riding two abreast
- Cyclists are permitted to ride on the road shoulder or either side of a continuous white edge line. However, cyclists must give way to vehicles on the road when moving back into the lane from the road shoulder.
- As of 30 November 2017, a driver of a motor vehicle is legally required to pass a cyclist travelling in the same direction at a safe distance. In particular, if the speed limit is 60km/h or less, the driver must maintain a 1 metre distance, and a 1.5-metre distance where the speed limit exceeds 60km/h
- Cyclists are not permitted to ride more than two bicycles abreast on a road. When riding abreast, the two bicycles must be no more than 1.5 metres apart
- Cycling on footpaths is now permitted across all ages.
- Cyclists are permitted to ride on footpaths (unless prohibited by a ‘No Bicycle’ sign). Riders must keep left and give way to pedestrians
- Cyclists must ensure there is at least 2 metres between their bike and the back of the motor vehicle in front when following a vehicle for over 200 metres
- Cyclists are prohibited from riding across roads that are marked children’s crossing, foot crossing or pedestrian crossing.
- As of 25 October 2015, cyclists of all ages were permitted to ride on footpaths
- Cyclists are permitted to ride two abreast on a carriageway; any more than two is not permitted
- Cyclists are not permitted to ride for more than 200 metres within two metres of a motor vehicle.
Australian Capital Territory
- Cyclists are permitted to ride across pedestrian crossings at speeds of 10km/h or less. Riders must approach a crossing at 10km/h and be ready to give way to pedestrians
- Riders must keep to the left of a shared path or footpath unless impractical to do so and give way to pedestrians
- When approaching an intersection that has a bicycle crossing light symbol and traffic lights, cyclists must adhere to the bicycle crossing lights.
- Cyclists of any age may ride on a footpath in Tasmania unless such use is prohibited
- Cyclists are not permitted to ride within 2 metres of the rear of a moving motor vehicle for more than 200 metres
- Cyclists cannot ride more than two abreast unless one cyclist is attempting to overtake the other two cyclists. Two cyclists may ride side by side, but the distance between them must be no greater than 1.5 metres.
If you have been in a cycling-related incident, you are entitled to a free legal consultation. Visit shine.com.au/cyclingaustralia for further information.
As trusted legal partner of Cycling Australia, Shine Lawyers is committed to providing the highest standard of support to Cycling Australia members. If you have been in a cycling-related incident, you are entitled to a free legal consultation. Visit shine.com.au/cyclingaustralia for further information.
Written by Shine Lawyers. Last modified: January 16, 2019.