The relevant regulations, under the Road Safety Act 1986 (Vic) (“RS Act”) are the:
• Road Safety Road Rules 2017 (Vic) (“Road Rules”) – these are the Victorian version of the Australian Road Rules;
• Road Safety (Vehicles) Regulations 2009 (Vic) (“Vehicles Regulations”); and
• Road Safety (General) Regulations 2009 (Vic) (“RS General Regulations”).
Each of the penalties indicated in this chapter is the maximum prescribed by legislation for a first offence, if the matter proceeds to court. Each offence applicable to cyclists, skaters or pedestrians can also be dealt with by a traffic infringement notice (an on-the-spot fine) as per part 9 of the RS General Regulations (see Driving offences, and Fines and infringements).
For the period 1 July 2018 to 30 June 2019, one penalty unit (pu) equals:
• $161.19 under Victorian state law
• $210 under Commonwealth law.
For more information, see “A note about penalty units”.
Schedule 7 of the RS General Regulations states that for many bicycle offences the fine is 1–2 pu. However, on-the-spot fines for failing to obey traffic lights or stop or give way signs are the same for cyclists as they are for motorists (that is, 2.5 pu for failing to obey traffic lights, and 2 pu for failing to obey stop or give way signs). On-the-spot fines for most pedestrian (and hence, skater) offences are 0.5 pu.
The Road Rules define various words in the dictionary at the end of the Road Rules (“RR dictionary”). The definitions below are from this dictionary.
A “cyclist” is included within the definition of “rider”, who is a “person who is riding a motorbike, bicycle, animal or animal-drawn vehicle” (Road Rule (RR) 17(1)). This does not include a passenger or a person walking beside and pushing a bicycle (RR 17(2)).
A “bicycle” is included in the definition of “vehicle” in RR 15 and is defined in the RR dictionary as:
a vehicle with two or more wheels that is built to be propelled partly or wholly by human power through a belt, chain or gears (whether or not it has an auxiliary motor), and
a includes a pedicab, penny-farthing and tricycle; and
b includes a power-assisted pedal cycle within the meaning of vehicle standards, as amended from time to time, determined under section 7 of the Motor Vehicle Standards Act 1989 of the Commonwealth; but
c does not include an electric personal transporter, scooter, wheelchair, wheeled recreational device, wheeled toy, or any vehicle with an auxiliary motor capable of generating a power output over 200 watts (whether or not the motor is operating), other than a vehicle referred to in paragraph (b)).
The definition of a “wheeled recreation device” is a:
wheeled device, built to transport a person, propelled by human power or gravity [or in the case of a scooter, propelled by a person pushing one foot against the ground, or by an electric motor or motors, or by a combination of these] and ordinarily used for recreation or play.
Wheeled recreation devices include rollerblades, rollerskates, skateboards, scooters that are not motor vehicles, and similar wheeled devices.
Wheeled recreation devices do not include golf buggies, prams, strollers, trolleys, bicycles, electric personal transporters, wheelchairs, wheeled toys, or scooters that are motor vehicles.
People riding wheeled recreation devices are considered to be pedestrians (RR 18). For some rules relating to pedestrians, see “Riding on paths and bicycle lanes”.
The riders of scooters, although considered to be riding wheeled recreation devices, have been singled out for greater protection.
RR 19 states that all references to “driver” and “driving” in the Road Rules include a reference to “rider” and “riding”, unless otherwise stated. Therefore, 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 (e.g. signs and signals). Cyclists are also subject to the same on-the-spot fines (also known as infringement penalties) as motorists for failing to:
• obey a traffic light (infringement penalty: 2.5 penalty units (pu) (see “A note about penalty units”)); or
• obey a stop sign, a stop here on red signal or arrow sign, or a give way sign (infringement penalty: 2 pu).
Several rules dealing specifically with bicycles and their riders can be found in part 15 of the Road Rules.
The Road Rules apply to vehicles and road users on roads and road-related areas (RR 11). However, these terms are quite broadly defined (RR 12, 13); the definition of a “road” being:
an area that is open to or used by the public and is developed for, or has as one of its main uses, the driving or riding of motor vehicles [or any area declared under the RS Act].
A “road-related area” includes footpaths, nature strips, areas that divide roads, and areas that, while not roads, are open to the public and designated for use by cyclists or animals or used by the public for driving, riding or parking motor vehicles.
The following summary of the law is in three parts. The first relates specifically to bicycles (how they should be ridden, roadworthiness, helmets, use of bicycle carriers); the second relates to skaters; and the third covers the general road law, in particular stopping and turning behaviour as it applies to bicycles.
MELBOURNE’S BICYCLE HIRE SCHEME
The Victorian Government provides a bicycle hire scheme, Melbourne Bike Share (www.melbournebikeshare.com.au). The scheme provides bicycles for free for short trips:
• for people who purchase a daily pass ($3) or a weekly pass ($8), the first 30 minutes is free; then it costs $2 for the next 30 minutes, then $7 for the next 61–90 minutes, then $10 for every additional 30 minutes; a refundable $10 deposit is required;
• for annual subscribers ($60), the first 45 minutes is free; for corporate subscribers, the first hour is free.
For more information about daily and weekly passes, and annual and corporate subscriptions, visit the scheme’s website. Free helmets are provided on some of the hire bicycles. There are around 600 bicycles and 50 bicycle stations in and around Melbourne’s CBD, extending north to Melbourne University in Parkville and as far south as Luna Park in St Kilda.