Cycling has many benefits; from helping with fitness and mental health, to reducing your environmental impact and motor vehicle costs. As with any other mode of transport, there are inherent dangers that come with cycling. We’ve put together some helpful safety tips for cyclists of all levels of experience to make sure you and your bike are ready to hit the bitumen.
Minimum safety requirements
Each Australian state and territory has specific laws regarding the minimum safety requirements for bicycles to ensure the safety of cyclists as well as other road users. The minimum safety requirements for your bike include at least one working brake, a warning device and reflectors. Click on each part of the bike to learn more.
Bicycle helmet laws in Australia
Research shows that a bicycle helmet can reduce the risk of head injuries by up to 74% in crashes involving motor vehicles, which is why across Australia* bicycle helmet laws are enforced. The below considerations should be followed for all helmet use:
- Your helmet meets the Australian/New Zealand standard AS/NZS 2063;
- It fits firmly and comfortably on your head and doesn’t tilt or move in any direction; and
- The straps can be fastened and are firm under your chin. You should also ensure that your straps are not twisted or covering your ears.
*Since 31 March 1994, the Northern Territory made an amendment to the law to allow cyclists over the age of 17 to ride without a helmet on a public place or footpath, however it is still recommended.
To ensure your bicycle helmet continues to protect you for each journey, you should replace it if you can see any visible damage or deterioration on the foam or straps, or if your helmet has been involved in a crash, severe fall or has been dropped on a hard surface.
While there are no laws dictating cycling clothing requirements while you’re out on your bike, there are recommendations for ways to make sure you are easily visible to road users around you as well as other protective gear to consider:
- When riding during the day wear bright or light-coloured clothing
- When riding at night or in poor visibility conditions, wear reflective clothing (or a plain white top if you don’t have anything reflective)
- Choose footwear that is fully enclosed – this will also help your grip on the pedals
- Consider cycling gloves to protect your hands; these can reduce jarring and keep your fingers warm in cold temperatures. You just need to make sure you can still operate your brakes, bell and gears.
Are bike reflectors and lights required by law?
Yes: if you ride at night or in bad weather, your bike should have the following:
- A white light on the front of your bike that is visible from 200 metres. This light can be flashing or steady.
- A red light on the back of your bike that is visible from 200 metres. This light can be flashing or steady.
- A red reflector on the back of your bike that is visible from 50 metres. For optimum visibility, it is also recommended to have yellow reflectors on the side of each wheel as well as both side edges of each pedal.
Each state requires that your bike is fitted with a working warning device, such as a bell, a horn or something similar. It needs to be affixed in an easy-to-reach position so you can quickly sound a warning to other cyclists or pedestrians when required.
Across Australia your bike is required to have at least one working brake. Safety tip for braking: if your bicycle has hand brakes, your front brake controls approximately 75% of your stopping power, so apply the rear brake slightly before applying the front brake to avoid locking up your wheel and losing control.
Other useful items to make your ride safer and more enjoyable
- Sunglasses, sunscreen and water – even in cloudy weather
- Mirrors – just like side-view mirrors on cars, having mirrors fitted to your bike can assist you to see potential hazards and traffic around you; especially if you are riding on the road
- Go-Pro or similar video recorder – films what is going on around you and in the event of a crash it could capture valuable footage
- Tool kit – a good basic kit, which includes tools for fixing flat tyres or tightening the chain or wheel, etc.
Tips for bike maintenance
Whether you plan to ride your bike every day or only on occasion, there are some basic bike maintenance steps you can take to ensure your ride is as safe as possible and prolong the life of your bike.
Before you ride:
- Check that your brakes and lights are working
- Check the air pressure in your tires – your tires can lose pressure in just a few days, so make sure you have a floor pump at home that has an air pressure gauge
- Ensure there are no loose wheel spokes and that your rims are straight. Also check that your nuts and bolts are tight
- Store your bike undercover to avoid rust from rain
- Regularly clean and lubricate your bike components (especially the chain) – this can help to protect parts from wear and tear and prevent corrosion and rust
- Replace wear and tear components when you notice that your bike is not working as well as normal. If your bike is in regular use, it is recommended to get it serviced every year.
Shine Lawyers – we’re here to help
If something has happened to you or a loved one while cycling, you may be able to make a claim. Our team of cycling claim experts can guide you through the legal process to help you understand your rights and get back on your feet. Get in touch today for an obligation free consultation.
Bike laws across Australia This blog is intended to supply general advice for safety tips and laws that apply nationally. Each state and territory across Australia has slightly different laws when it comes to minimum bike standards and rules for riding, so before you next jump on your bike be sure to familiarise yourself with the relevant bike laws in Australia for where you live.
Written by Shine Lawyers. Last modified: August 25, 2020.