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Bicycles and the Law (ACT)

In the ACT, cyclists are expected to obey all the same road rules as drivers and they can be fined for breaking the road rules. There are some additional road rules that apply only to cyclists and it is an offence to ride a bicycle under the influence of alcohol or drugs. This article deals with bicycles and the law in the ACT.

Bicycles and the law – common offences

According to the Australian Federal Police website, the most common traffic infringements and cautions issued to cyclists in the ACT are for:

  • Not wearing a helmet;
  • Having a passenger who is not wearing a helmet;
  • Riding without the proper equipment, such as lights and a warning device.

Bicycles and the law – equipment

Cyclists in the ACT must not ride bikes that do not have at least one working brake and a bell, horn or another warning device. Cyclists must wear an approved helmet securely fastened on their head and any passengers must also wear helmets.

A cyclist riding at night or in hazardous conditions must display:

  • A white light at the front that is clearly visible for 200 metres;
  • A red light at the rear that is clearly visible for 200 metres;
  • A red reflector on the read that is clearly visible for 50 metres when a headlight is projected onto it on low beam.

Religious exemption

The rules regarding the wearing of helmets do not apply to a person who is a member of a religious group and is wearing a headdress customarily worn by that group, which makes it impractical for them to wear a helmet.

Bicycles and law – crossings

Cyclists in the ACT must not start to cross at a crossing when the bicycle light is red or yellow. If the bicycle light changes to yellow or red after a cyclist has started crossing, they must not remain on the crossing longer than necessary.

Bicycles and law – clearing distance

Motorists in the ACT are expected to give cyclists a clearing distance of 1 metre when passing them at a speed of 60km per hour or less and 1.5 metres when passing at 60km per hour or faster.

Bicycles and law – special road rules

Part 15 of the ACT Road Transport (Road Rules) Regulation 2017 sets out some additional rules that riders of bicycles must obey. These include:

  • Cyclists must sit on the rider’s seat and must have one hand on the handlebars at all times;
  • Cyclists must not carry more people on the bike that it is designed to carry, and passengers must sit on the seats designed for passengers;
  • Cyclists must ride in the bike lane where one is provided unless it is impractical to do so;
  • Bicycles entering bicycle storage areas at traffic lights must enter from the bike lane and must give way to vehicles when doing so;
  • Cyclists riding across crossings must not go faster than 10km per hour, must be prepared to stop and must give way to pedestrians;
  • Cyclists must not ride on footpaths designated for pedestrians only;
  • When cyclists ride on shared footpaths they must keep left and give way to pedestrians;
  • Cyclists must not ride on roads or footpaths marked “no bicycles”;
  • Cyclists must cause a traffic hazard by moving into the path of a vehicle or pedestrian;
  • Cyclists must not be towed by another vehicle or hold onto another moving vehicle;
  • Cyclists must not ride within two metres of another vehicle for more than 200m;
  • A cyclist must not tow a trailer with a person riding in it unless the cyclist is aged over 16 and the passenger is aged under 10 and the trailer can safely carry the person and they are wearing a helmet;


Failure to comply with any of the above-listed rules can result in a fine of up to 20 penalty units ($3200).

Bicycles and law – alcohol and drugs

Section 24A of the Road Transport (Alcohol and Drugs) Act 1977 makes it an offence to be in charge of or ride a vehicle or animal on a road in the ACT while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. This provision applies to bikes, personal mobility devices, animal-drawn vehicles, horses, cattle and sheep.

A person can be fined up to 50 penalty units ($8000) for this offence, imprisonment for up to six months, or both.

If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal.

Fernanda Dahlstrom

This article was written by Fernanda Dahlstrom

Fernanda Dahlstrom has a Bachelor of Laws, a Bachelor of Arts and a Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice. She has also completed a Master’s in Writing and Literature. Fernanda practised law for eight years, working in criminal defence, child protection and domestic violence law in the Northern Territory and in family law in Queensland.

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