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Bicycles And The Law (Vic)

In Victoria, cyclists are permitted to ride on roads, bike paths and shared footpaths but they are generally not allowed to ride on pedestrian footpaths. Cyclists are required to obey all road rules as well as being subject to some extra rules that are specifically for bicycles. Failure to obey the road rules can result in a fine for a cyclist just like for any other road user. However, for cyclists there is no demerit system. This article deals with bicycles and the law in Victoria.

What is a bicycle?

Bicycle rules apply to all wheeled vehicles powered by a person using a belt, chain or gears. This includes tricycles, unicycles and power-assisted bicycles.

What equipment must cyclists have?

Cyclists in Victoria must wear a helmet when riding on roads, bike paths or shared walkways. 

Cyclists in Victoria are also required to have a functioning brake and a horn, bell or another warning signal. At night, cyclists must have a white light of the front and a red light on the back, which must be visible from 200 metres away. They must also have a red reflector on the back. 

Bicycles and the law on footpaths and shared paths

Cyclists in Victoria are allowed to ride on pedestrian footpaths if they are aged under 12, an adult supervising a child aged under 12 or if they have a medical certificate stating that they have a disability that makes it difficult for them to ride on the road.

When cycling on footpaths, cyclists must keep left and give way to pedestrians.

Bicycles and the law on phones

Cyclists may use phones while riding only if they are making or receiving a phone call or using the phone’s audio function and the phone is secured to the bike in a commercially designed holder or held in the rider’s pocket. Use of a phone’s GPS function while riding is permitted only if the phone is secured in a commercially designed holder.

The penalty for using a phone in any other way while riding is a fine of $496.

Bicycle lanes

In areas where there is a bicycle lane provided, cyclists must use the bike lane unless it is not practical to do so. Motorists may not drive in the bike lane unless there is a sign indicating that they can do so, or unless they are using the lane only to do one of the following:

  • to turn at an intersection (using the lane for 50 metres or less);
  • to drop off a passenger;
  • overtake; or
  • enter or leave the road.

Motorists who use the bike lane must give way to cyclists in the bike lane.

Riding two abreast

A cyclist in Victoria may ride next to one other cyclist on any road. Cyclists are not allowed to ride next to more than one other cyclist (unless they are overtaking). When riding two abreast, cyclists shouldn’t be more than 1.5 metres apart.

Tram stops

When a tram stops at a tram stop, cyclists must stop at the rear of the tram until the doors have closed. They may then cycle past the tram.

Additional road rules for cyclists

Cyclists are required to face forwards and one hand on the handlebars at all times. Cyclists may only carry passengers if the passenger rides on a passenger seat.

Cyclists must obey the speed limit, traffic lights, stop signs and give way signs. They must give way to pedestrians who are crossing the road they are turning into whether there are traffic lights or not. Cyclists must signal with their right hand when turning right or moving to the right. They are not required to signal when they are turning left.

Bicycles and the law on alcohol and drugs

Victoria does not have a specific offence of riding whilst intoxicated. Furthermore, police are not empowered to breath test a person riding a bike.

However, a cyclist who is intoxicated and riding in a public place may be charged with another alcohol-related offence, such as being drunk in a public place under section 13 of the Summary Offences Act or being drunk and disorderly in a public place under section 14 of the Act.

While there have been sporadic moves to make drunk cycling an offence in Victoria, this has received mixed responses. While some people have argued that cycling drunk poses a serious risk to the cyclist as well as to other road users, others have argued that criminalising drink riding may lead to more people opting to drive after drinking. It has also been noted that cyclists in Victoria who drink and ride do not contribute significantly to the road toll.

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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