The Queensland Cyclists Guide to Road Laws
By Meghan Rothery, Senior Associate at Maurice Blackburn
Every time you get on your bike you want to be safe and get where you’re going in one piece. You want to believe that your fellow road users will do the right thing and protect you from harm. Sadly, 2016 has already seen 9 bicycle rider fatalities on Queensland roads –over three times more than at the same time last year. If we are to see a reduction in cycling deaths and injuries, motorists and bicycle riders must both take responsibility by being aware of other cyclists on the roads and knowing which road laws exist to protect this vulnerable road user.
Know the rules – know your rights
As a keen bicycle rider, what can you do to ensure your safety on our roads? Knowing the Queensland Government’s ‘stay wider of the rider’ laws and educating those around you is a great place to start.
For motorists this includes, but is not limited to the following:
• Vehicles must stay wider of the rider by giving at least 1 metre when passing bicycle riders in a 60km/h or less speed zone; and 1.5 metres where the speed limit is over 60km/h.
• Where cyclists are riding two abreast, the minimum passing distance must be kept from the cyclist furthest to the right.
• Drivers can cross the centre lines, including double unbroken centre lines, straddle lane-lines or drive on painted islands to pass bicycle riders, provided the motorist has a clear view of any approaching traffic and it is safe to do so.
• If the minimum distance cannot be abided in passing a cyclist, then the vehicle needs to slow down and wait until it is safe to pass, at the minimum distance.
But did you know the law only applies to vehicles passing cyclists, not cyclists passing vehicles? The penalty for a driver passing too close is 3 demerit points and a $353 fine. If the matter goes to court, a maximum fine of $4,712 can apply.
It’s a two way street – top 5 road rules for cyclists
We’ve all heard motorists negatively stereotyping cyclists as a result of the unsafe or unlawful action of one or two individuals. Whilst you can’t control the undesirable attitudes of motorists, you can make sure you’re not the cyclist whose behaviour justifies this by following these simple rules:
1. Signal when turning right
- You must signal your intention to do so with your right arm out horizontally; your hand open, with your palm facing forward.
2. Keep your distance
- Allow at least 2m distance between you and back of the car in front of you (when following for over 200m)
3. Keep to the left
- Stay as close to the left as possible on a road that is not a multi-lane road (on a multi-lane road, you can take up any position within the lane). Don’t overtake another vehicle on the left if it is not safe to do so or that vehicle is turning left and indicating they will turn left
4. Maintain an appropriate distance between riders
- Avoid riding with more than 2 riders side by side unless you are overtaking. Otherwise ride within 1.5m of the other rider if you are travelling side by side with someone.
5. Use bicycle lights when riding at night or in conditions with reduced visibility.
- White (front) and red (rear) bike lights need to be mounted so they can be clearly seen at least 200m away. Cyclists also need a red reflector that can be clearly seen at least 50m from behind the bicycle.
Did you know?
- Sometimes it’s the lesser known road rules that we may not be aware of that can cause the biggest confusion and angst amongst road users, such as:
- Bicycle lanes are not compulsory. Where one is available, you are not required by law to use it.
- You can ride on the road shoulder, across a continuous white edge line on a bicycle. However, you must give way to vehicles on the road when moving back onto the road across the continuous white edge line.
- You’re allowed to ride your bicycle in special purpose lanes, including:
- bicycle lanes
- bus lanes
- tram lanes (you cannot ride on a tramway, i.e as exists on the Gold Coast)
- transit lanes.
- You can ride across a zebra crossing or children's crossing as long as you come to a complete stop first, and then;
1.proceed slowly and safely
2.give way to any pedestrian on the crossing
3.keep to the left of any oncoming bicycle riders.
The path ahead
Thanks to significant campaigning in Queensland we’re seeing improved road safety rules in favour of cyclists. But the laws themselves are not enough. Increased awareness and respects for the rights of cyclists on the roads is needed to promote increased respect for their appearance on our roads.
Check out Queensland’s bicycle road rules and safety tips at: https://www.qld.gov.au/transport/safety/rules/nonpowered/bicycle/
Maurice Blackburn are the preferred legal supplier for Triathlon Queensland. For more information on how Maurice Blackburn can get you back on track, call 1800 810 812 or visit mauriceblackburn.com.au