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”).
Both the Vehicles Regulations and the RS General Regulations are due to be automatically revoked (also known as “to sunset”) in late 2019, in accordance with section 5 of the Subordinate Legislation Act 1994 (Vic). At the time of writing, it is unclear whether these regulations will be completely remade, or if the Victorian Government Department of Transport will ask for a 12-month extension, which would mean that the current regulations would continue until late 2020.
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 2019 to 30 June 2020, one penalty unit (pu) equals $165.22 under Victorian state law. For more information, see “A note about penalty units” at the start of this book.
Schedule 7 of the RS General Regulations states that for many bicycle offences the fine is 1–2 pu. However, on-the-spot fines (also known as infringement penalties) 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 (RR) define various words in the dictionary at the end of the Road Rules (“RR dictionary”). The definitions below are from this dictionary.
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 (Cth); 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)).
A “power-assisted pedal cycle” is defined in the Vehicle Standard (Australian Design Rule – Definitions and Vehicle Categories) 2005 (Cth) (“Vehicle Standard”). Clause 4.2.2 of the Vehicle Standard sets out the vehicle category of “Power-assisted pedal cycle AB”.
The Vehicle Standard lists two types of legal motorised bicycle (i.e. e-bikes):
1 A bicycle with one or more auxiliary electric motors that has a combined maximum power output not exceeding 200 watts.
2 A bicycle certified as a “Pedalec”. This means that the bicycle is compliant with the European Committee for Standardization (EN 15194:2009 or EN 15194:2009+A1:2001 Cycles – Electrically power-assisted cycles – EPAC Bicycles). To be compliant, a bicycle’s auxiliary motor must produce no more than 250 watts of continuous power that can only be accessed by pedalling. The bicycle’s maximum power-assisted pedalling speed must not exceed 25 kilometres per hour, and the power cuts out above this speed.
Any bicycle that does not require pedalling to operate, or does not meet the requirements of one of the two types of legal e-bike outlined above, is considered to be a motor cycle.
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 in bicycle lanes”.
The riders of scooters, although considered to be riding wheeled recreation devices, have been singled out for greater protection.
A “cyclist” is included within the definition of “rider”, who is a “person who is riding a motorbike, bicycle, animal or animal-drawn vehicle” (RR 17(1)). This does not include a passenger or a person walking beside and pushing a bicycle (RR 17(2)).
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).
Several rules dealing specifically with bicycles and their riders are 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.