Sharing the road with bicycle riders
Bicycle riders and motorists have the same rights and responsibilities when using the road. Bicycle riders are legitimate road users and have the right to be treated with courtesy and care by other road users.
In turn, bicycle riders must obey the bicycle road rules.
Laws for motorists passing bicycle riders
Motorists must stay wider of rider by giving a minimum of:
- 1m when passing a bicycle rider in a 60km/h or less speed zone
- 1.5m where the speed limit is over 60km/h.
Passing a bicycle rider means that you (as a driver) and the bicycle rider are travelling in the same direction. This includes when you are travelling side-by-side in separate lanes on a multi-lane road. It does not apply if you are travelling in opposite directions, or when you are on the other side of the road to a bicycle rider.
The passing distance is measured from:
- The rightmost part of the bicycle, or the person on the bicycle
- The leftmost part of the vehicle, or something sticking out from the vehicle (e.g. a side mirror).
The minimum passing distance applies even if the bicycle rider is riding around an obstacle.
These road rules apply to all motor vehicles—including cars, motorcycles, heavy vehicles and public transport vehicles.
These rules were initially introduced as a trial but are now here to stay.
As a driver, you will get 3 demerit points and a $353 fine if you do not give the minimum distance when you pass a bicycle rider. If the matter goes to court, a maximum fine of $4,712 can apply.
Tips for passing bicycle riders on the road
Crossing lines to pass a bicycle rider
To pass a bicycle rider—as long as it is safe to do so—you are allowed to:
- drive over centre lines (including double unbroken centre lines) on a 2-way road
- straddle or cross a lane line (including a continuous lane line) on a multi-lane road
- drive on a painted island.
If it is not safe to pass a bicycle rider, you must wait until it is safe to pass.
Indicating when passing
Drivers must indicate when passing bicycle riders if they need to change their position on the road.
- Indicate ‘right’ long enough to warn other road users that you are about to veer right to pass a bicycle rider
- Then indicate ‘left’ when you have passed the bicycle rider and are returning to your original position on the road.
You must indicate if you need to change your position on the road, even if you do not need to cross the centre or lane lines.
Passing 2 bicycle riders riding side-by-side
If you want to pass 2 bicycle riders that are riding next to each other, the minimum passing distance applies to the bicycle rider closest to the right. It is legal for 2 bicycle riders to ride side-by-side on a road, as long as they are not more than 1.5m apart.
Other general tips for sharing the road with bicycle riders
Check your blind spots
Bicycle riders are much smaller than cars and heavy vehicles, so they are harder to see. Check your blind spots before changing lanes, turning or when you open your car door.
Make sure you treat bicycle riders like any other vehicles on the road. Give way to them when required and travel at a safe following distance.
Be patient and considerate
Watch out for bicycle riders at all times, but especially at night, dawn or dusk. Be considerate and dip your headlights when approaching a bicycle rider at night.
Be patient. If it isn’t safe to pass a bicycle rider, wait until it is safe. This should not hold you up for long and it could save the bicycle rider’s life.
Turning left behind a bicycle rider
If a bicycle rider is ahead of you and you want to turn left, turn behind the bicycle rider. Overtaking and cutting off the bicycle rider is very dangerous.
Wet weather can cause the road to become oily or slippery and reduce visibility, so be extra careful around bicycle riders at these times.