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Chapter name. ROAD LAW FOR CYCLISTS

Road Laws for Cyclists

Cyclists are subject to the general road rules that govern all traffic on the road and, in particular, to the rules governing speed limits, pedestrians and traffic control devices (signs and signals).

From 2001 cyclists were also made subject to the same level of on-the-spot fines as motorists for failing to:

  • obey a traffic light; or
  • obey a stop sign, a stop here on red signal/ arrow sign or a give way sign.

The Road Legislation Amendment Act 2009 (Vic) was passed in June 2009. This is relevant to cyclists in that they can be charged with serious traffic offences such as dangerous driving, careless driving and failing to stop, render assistance or exchange details or report to the police.

There are also a number of Road Rules dealing specifically with bicycles and their riders. The Law Handbook has details of these rules and general road rules as they apply to cyclists. The Bicycle Victoria and VicRoads web sites also have information on these issues.

The regulations relevant to cyclists under the Road Safety Act 1986 ("RSA") are now:

Maximum penalties for most offences have been increased, with many going from 1 penalty unit (pu) to 3 or even 5 pu, and some from 3 to 10 pu (e.g. RR.300 – using a hand-held mobile phone while riding).

 The Road Legislation Amendment Bill 2009 amends the RSA. The amendments provide that cyclists can be charged with serious traffic offences similar to those that apply to drivers of motor vehicles. The offences apply to all drivers of non-motorised vehicles, not just cyclists. The serious traffic offences are: dangerous driving (new section 64(2A) RSA; max. penalty: 120 pu or 12 months imprisonment);careless driving (new section 65(2) RSA; max. penalty: 6 pu (first offence) and 12 pu (subsequent offence); and failing to stop, render assistance, exchange details or report to police following an accident (new section 61A RSA; various penalties depending on whether anyone was killed or seriously injured).

 Road Rules 163 (Driving past the rear of a stopped tram at a tram stop) and Road Rules 164 (Stopping beside a stopped tram at a tram stop) state it is permissible to proceed past a stopped tram at no more than 10 km/h, once the doors are closed and there are no pedestrians crossing.  Failing to comply with these rules carries a maximum penalty of 10 pu. Schedule 7 of the RS General Regulations imposes a 2.5 pu infringement penalty on these offences.

Note: : One penalty unit (pu) equals $144.36 as of 1 July 2013.

The Road Rules now refer to the "bicycle storage areas" and "bicycle hook turn storage areas".  These are rectangular boxes painted on the road that, usually, open out from a bike lane just before an intersection with traffic lights and can extend across several lanes. Many have been painted on roads in the Melbourne CBD. New offences have been created which refer to these areas, such as prohibiting cars from entering the areas before the lights change, etc. See sections 27(1A), 31(4A), 32(2A), 56(3), 57(4), 60A, 247A and 247B of the Road Rules (some of which are discussed in detail below).

Melbourne's bike hire scheme

The Victorian Department of Transport’s bike hire scheme, Melbourne Bike Share, (www.melbournebikeshare.com.au) is supported by the City of Melbourne and operated by the RACV. Formally, Bike Share cyclists had to provide their own helmets or buy one for $5 from a nearby store or vending machine. However, the scheme is now trialling providing free helmets, which can be found on the bikes themselves. There are two ways the scheme operates:

  1. annual subscribers ($54 for an individual subscription and $100 for a corporate subscription) insert their bike share keys into the bike docking station;
  2. daily ($2.70) or weekly ($8) pass cyclists swipe their credit card at the bike station kiosk and receive a code, which is then plugged into the docking station to release the bike.

The scheme provides the bikes for free for short trips:

  • for annual subscribers, the first 45 minutes is free;
  • for corporate subscribers, the first hour is free, then it costs $2 for the next 30 minutes, then $7 for the next 61–90 minutes, $17 for up to two hours, then $10 for every additional 30 minutes;
  • for daily or weekly users, the first 30 minutes is free.

The pricing is designed so that only short trips are taken. For longer bike trips, the Melbourne Bike Share website recommends using other bike hire companies. Daily and weekly hire also requires a $50 deposit, and you can only hire a maximum of two bikes for each credit card.

There are currently 51 bike stations and 600 bikes in and around the CBD, extending north to Melbourne University and as far south as Albert Park Lake. The website now has a handy map (and app) showing the location of bike stations.

Note: : One penalty unit (pu) equals $144.36 as of 1 July 2013.

From 9 November 2009 changes to the Road Rules for cyclists come into force. Both cyclists and passengers must wear approved bicycle helmets and sit on a proper seat.

Bicycle Victoria has a number of information sheets relating to the law and bicycles including:

Fines for Bicycle offences

See www.bv.com.au

Or request a copy by email from bicyclevic@bv.com.au

Road rules for cyclists

See www.bv.com.au and click on the 'Bikes and Riding' tab in the top panel and then the 'Behaviour' tab.

At the VicRoads website you can read the Road Rules of Victoria – Part 15—Additional Rules for Bicycle Riders

See www.vicroads.vic.gov.au

Both sites have other information on bicycles and the law and safe riding. For more information check out the Bicycle Victoria website at www.bv.com.au and the VicRoads website at www.vicroads.vic.gov.au.

For more information on this subject refer to The Law Handbook chapter 10.3 Road law for cyclists and skaters

Last updated: Tue Apr 1st 2014