LawTalk Blog

The law regarding cyclists and left-turning drivers

bike riders on road with cars

By law, cyclists are required to keep as far left as possible on our roadways, and the construction of bike lanes on the left-hand side of the road aids in allowing cyclists to abide by this rule. Flowing from a cyclist’s position on the far left-hand side of the road is the entitlement that bikes are the only vehicles on our roadways permitted to overtake other vehicles on the left.

This entitlement does, however, cause significant confusion about who has right of way particularly in circumstances where a motorist signals to turn left at an intersection and a cyclist is travelling straight.

What does the law say about who should give way to whom when turning left?

The Australian Road Rules state a bike must not pass or overtake on the left of any vehicle that is:

  1. Giving a left change of direction signal; and
  2. Has started turning left.

A bicycle rider may, however, pass or overtake a vehicle on the left when the vehicle is:

  1. Giving a left change of direction signal; and
  2. Is stationary or moving forward before starting to turn left.

Are there any penalties for bike riders?

The current penalty for a bicycle rider overtaking to the left of a vehicle that has started turning left is a $60.00 expiation fee, plus a $60.00 victims of crime levy, adding to a total penalty of $120.00.
Ultimately, cyclists and motorists will be required to negotiate who will give way to whom in any given circumstance. Both parties should proceed with caution and be prepared to give way even where they believe they many have the right of way.

How to avoid left-turn side swipe collisions 

Advice for Motorists

  • Pay attention and be sure to look out for cyclists.
  • Check your speed and approach intersections with caution.
  • Remember that a cyclist is permitted to overtake you where you are in a stationary position or moving forward to begin turning left.

Advice for Cyclists

  • Cycle cautiously – don’t assume a motorist has seen you.
  • Check your speed.
  • Wear brightly coloured clothing to ensure visibility.
  • Remember that you are not permitted to overtake a vehicle on the left that has already started turning left.

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Get in touch with today's blog writer:
Julia Arena

Associate in Personal Injury

Please note, this Blog is posted in Adelaide, South Australia by Andersons Solicitors. It relates to South Australian legislation. Andersons Solicitors is a medium sized law firm servicing metropolitan Adelaide and regional South Australia across all areas of law for individuals and businesses.

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