A bicycle is
defined as a vehicle by the Road Traffic
Act. Therefore cyclists must obey all road rules just
like any drivers of motor vehicles. Cyclists have the same
rights on the road but with that come the same responsibilities as
any other road user.
As a cyclist you must obey by the Australian Road Rules.
If you do not, you can be charged with a traffic offence in the
same way as the driver of a motor vehicle. Penalties for
committing offences as a cyclist can range from $ 18 to $1,250
depending on the offence. And yes, as a cyclist you can incur
demerit points that accrue against your drivers licence. It's
particularly noteworthy that if you don't have a drivers licence,
you will still incur demerit points which may prevent you from
obtaining a drivers licence in the future.
As a cyclist you must keep as reasonably practicable to the left
hand side of the road and use bicycle lanes when available and
operational. There are of course exceptions, for example:
- you are turning right or about to turn right;
- when the road is divided into lanes; or
- to avoid debris or when overtaking.
In a bicycle lane if there is insufficient room to ride two
abreast you must ride in single file, unless overtaking.
Where a bicycle lane does not exist cyclists may ride two abreast
but no more than two abreast.
You must give hand signals to indicate to other road users you
are preparing to turn right, diverge right or when changing lanes
to the right. You do not have to give hand signals when preparing
to turn left or when stopping; you may however want to for
You must not ride on footpaths. The only exemptions
- "shared paths" which are shared pathways for cyclists and
pedestrians as indicated by a sign;
- if you are under 12 years old; or
- if you have a valid medical certificate stating you have a
medical condition or disability and therefore should be permitted
to ride on the footpath.
If you so fall within one of the exemptions you must keep as
reasonably practicable to the left, must give way to any
pedestrians and must take every precaution to avoid accidents by
ringing your bell or calling out.
As a bicycle is defined as a vehicle you must not ride your
bicycle in an intoxicated state. If you are so intoxicated
and considered to have no capable control over your bicycle you
could be charged with driving under the influence. Penalties
for a first offence are a $ 700 to $ 1,200 fine or imprisonment for
no more than 3 months and licence disqualification for no less than
12 months as well as incurring 6 demerit points. Penalties
increase substantially if the offence is a second or subsequent
So you can see, the legal obligations on bike riders using
public roads are significant. If you find yourself in trouble
with the police over the use of your bike on public roads, we
recommend you seek experienced legal advice. The Andersons blog writer today
is one of our solicitors in Criminal Law, Leesah Randall. If you'd
like more information or clarification on any aspect of this
article, feel free to get in touch with Leesah.
Please note, this Blog is posted in Adelaide, South
Australia. It relates to South Australian legislation.