In a movement to address climate change and reduce the amount of pollution entering the atmosphere, it’s not uncommon to see major cities around the country become more bicycle friendly.
But as the number of cyclists in Australia increases so does the risk of mishaps on the road. Bike riders can often make simple mistakes because they may not be aware of the actual road rules that apply to them as cyclists. So, if you enjoy pushing your two-wheeler around, here’s what you need to know about bike riding laws to help you stay safe on your bike.
Always wear a helmet
Almost everyone knows you’ll cop a fine for not wearing a helmet while riding a bike. And even though the penalties are slightly different in each state, you can expect to pay anywhere between $25 to $300 for not doing the right thing. So, buckle up and protect your noggin the next time you hop on your bike.
Laws that remain the same, no matter which state you live in
- Cyclists riding on the road must follow the same road rules as drivers.
- Cyclists must have at least one hand on the handlebar at all times.
- Cyclists must not ride more than two people side-by-side.
- Cyclists must ride no more than 1.5 metres apart.
- All bicycles must have the correct reflector lights installed so that riders are visible while riding at night.
- Cyclists must not lead an animal while riding – so no slacking off and using your dog to pull you around.
- Cyclists must not hold on to a driving vehicle.
- Cyclists must always ride the right direction along bike paths.
- Bicycles must have working brakes and a working bell, horn, or similar warning device.
Bike riding rules and regulations by state
New South Wales
When it comes to whether or not bike riders can share footpaths with pedestrians, generally bicycle riders must not ride on a footpath. The only exception to the rule is if the rider is under the age of 16 or an adult is supervising a rider under the age of 16. But if there’s a ‘NO BICYCLES’ sign then it must be respected.
If you’re caught riding on the footpath in NSW, the penalty is a $114 fine. Cyclists in NSW must also wear a helmet and carry ID at all times. It’s a $344 fine if you’re caught not wearing a helmet.
Australian Capital Territory
In Canberra, the rules for bike riders are a relaxed mix of all other states’ laws. Cyclists must follow the same road rules as motorists and must use cycles lanes where available. Although bike riders are allowed to ride on footpaths in the ACT, they must keep to the left of a footpath or shared path unless it is impracticable to do so; and must give way to any pedestrian on the footpath or shared path.
Cycling fines in the ACT all come in at $146, whether you’re not wearing a helmet, you’re carrying someone else on your bike, or you’re riding with no hands on your handlebars.
Queensland takes a tough stance on riders and has equally tough fines to match. Cyclists are only allowed to ride on a footpath where indicated and if you ride on the pedestrian side of a separated footpath or don’t keep left of a footpath or shared path, you’re looking at a $133 fine.
Melbourne is a bike-friendly city with a large network of bike paths and laws in place to protect cyclists. Because there are dedicated paths for bike riders, cyclists must not ride on footpaths. Failure to use a bike lane or shared footpath could result in a $165 fine and not wearing a helmet could cost you $207.
Cyclists in South Australia are allowed to ride on footpaths unless stated otherwise but must give a warning to pedestrians prior to overtaking by ringing their bell. The fines are a little more lenient than other states. Failure to give warning to pedestrians on footpath is $53 and riding without a helmet is $93.
Perth is a bike-friendly city, so cyclists of all ages are permitted to ride on the footpaths. Cyclists of all ages are also permitted to ride on the roads however, the WA police recommend that children under nine do not ride on the roads unsupervised. WA cycling rules and penalties include a fine of $50 for not wearing a helmet and $100 for not having the correct lighting and a proper working warning device such as a bike bell.
Northern Territorian riders are allowed to cycle on the footpath. All cycle paths are shared paths with pedestrians unless a sign indicates otherwise. The Northern Territory bike laws are the most relaxed regulations across the country. No matter what the offence is, all penalties come in at a flat rate of $25.
Bicycle riders of any age may ride on a footpath in Tasmania unless it’s indicated otherwise by signs. Much like in every Australian state, bike laws are aimed at keeping cyclists safe in Tassie, but Tasmania’s cycling finesare very high, ranging from $260 to $650. A rider caught without wearing a helmet will be slapped with a $129 fine – so you always want to make sure you’re riding safely in Tasmania.
Need insurance for your pushbike?
Whether you leisurely ride at the park on weekends or are part of a cycling club and take riding more seriously, your bicycle is precious – and just like a car – it’s a personal asset. So perhaps just like you’d get insurance for your car, you may have thought about getting cover for your bicycle.
The good news is you can insure your set of wheels with NRMA Insurance in a couple of ways. Either cover your pushbike with Single Item Insurance to protect it against fire, storms and floods and theft from your home. Or if you already have Home Contents Insurance with us, you can insure your bicycle as an optional extra under your policy.
Keep in mind that although we offer to safeguard your two-wheeler, unfortunately we don’t cover bicycles while they’re being used in a competitive race or time trial.