This section has information and advice for cyclists about how to ride safely and responsibly. For specific cycling road rules see the bicycles road rules page.
Bike rider safety
Bicycles are vehicles, and under the law bike riders have the same rights and responsibilities as car drivers.
To stay safe bike, riders need to obey the road rules, ride predictably, share the road respectfully and safely with other road users, and maintain their bicycles properly.
In the ten years to 2012, there were an average of eight bike rider fatalities and 413 serious injuries per year.
Facts about bicycle crashes
- Bike riders most likely to be involved in crashes were:
- Male – 76%
- Aged 26-45 years – 46%
- Bicycle crashes are most common (61%) at intersections.
- 12% of bike rider casualties occur when a driver or rider who is turning right fails to give way to an oncoming vehicle travelling straight through.
- 10% of bike rider casualties occur when a driver or rider fails to give way at a cross section.
- 10% of bike rider casualties occur when a driver opens their door into the path of a bike rider. This is much higher in inner Melbourne.
- 9% of fatal and serious injury to bike riders occurs when it is mainly the rider coming off the footpath.
- 8% of fatal and serious injury to bike riders occurs when it is mainly the car driver emerging from a driveway.
Take extra care when cycling at night. It is harder for drivers to see you and for you to see hazards. Try to ride on well-lit roads and wear bright or light coloured clothing or a reflective vest.
When riding at night or in conditions of low light, your bike must have a white front light, a rear red light, both visible from at least 200 metres, and a red rear reflector visible from at least 50 metres.
- Ride defensively. This means being alert to other vehicles and acting predictably yourself.
Read the newly released – Bike Law – a bike rider’s guide to road rules in Victoria (Victorian Law Foundation).
Crashes between cars and bicycles are more likely to occur when light is poor.
Bike riders are most difficult to see when they are approaching a vehicle and the driver is viewing them from the front.
Tips for being seen both day & night
Wear a bright top day & night
It is more likely that you will be seen by drivers if you wear a brightly coloured top that makes you stand out. There are also reflective vests or similar accessories that you may want to consider wearing to improve your chances of being seen.
Use lights at night
This is the law. If you do not use lights at night or in conditions of low light, penalties may apply. The front and rear lights must be visible from 200m and the bicycle must also have a red rear reflector visible from 50 metres. Bike riders who do not have bicycle lights fitted to the front and rear of their bicycles are very difficult to see at night.
Use lights during the day
Using flashing front and back lights in daylight too helps you be seen on the road. Drivers can have poor peripheral (side) vision. Helping them to see who is in the bike lane or bike riding beside them makes it more likely that they will adjust their driving to give bike riders the space they need. So using bike lights in flashing mode day and night helps you be seen, and helps you stay safe.
Ride so that you can be seen
Drivers and other road users should look out for bike riders. However, some may not, so to help drivers see you, you should ride in a prominent position on the road at a distance of approximately one metre from parked cars. You should also obey traffic signals and stop signs
Advice for riders
- Look out for drivers and passengers getting in and out of parked cars.
- Be vigilant when riding alongside parked cars and ride out of the car door zone (if possible and safe to do so).
- If you are riding on a length of road with a marked bicycle lane, you must ride in the bicycle lane unless it is impracticable to do so.
- In places where there are a lot of parked cars, slow down.
- Wear bright coloured clothing and use lights at night or in conditions of low light.
- Share the road safely.
Cycling road rules review
As part of the Victorian State Government’s Road Safety Action Plan 2013-2016, we’re currently reviewing Victoria’s Cycling Road Rules.
This review is exploring ways to:
- increase awareness of road rules relating to cycling
- encourage safe and respectful behaviors from all road users
- better protect bike riders’ and other road users’ safety.
To view the full report, please order a copy at firstname.lastname@example.org through Vicroads.
Current project status – November 2015
We’ve reviewed the recommendations in this report, and discussed, tested and debated them with key stakeholders. An update of where we have got to with our deliberations is provided here:
What happens next?
- December 2015: Draft rules that require amendment and present to Government.
- February 2016: Deliver a community consultation workshop on road rule recommendations related to left hand turns and some specific circumstances for cycling on footpaths.
- March 2016: Develop a new communication and public education strategy to better communicate road rules that are lesser known or that need further reinforcement.
- October 2015 – June 2016: Undertake special projects on left hand turn and roundabout road rules, bus lane use, riding on footpaths in specific circumstances, and consideration of cycling when undertaking road works.
Road rules for bike riders
This is an extract from the Victorian Law Foundation. Please link the ‘more info’ tab for further information.
When you are riding your bike you must:
- face forwards and have at least one hand on the handlebars
- keep a safe distance between you and any traffic in front of you.
Make sure you have enough space to stop safely.
‘Dinking’ is against the law. Your passengers can only sit on your bike if they are in a seat for a passenger.
Traffic lights, signals and signs
You must obey traffic lights, signals, signs and road markings, and follow the road rules on stopping and giving way.
If there are no traffic lights, signs or lines at an intersection, you must give way to any vehicle on your right that would cross your path.
You must obey any traffic lights, including bike traffic lights that use bike symbols. You must also obey traffic arrows if you are about to make a turn.
You must always:
- give way to pedestrians who are crossing on the road you are turning into, even if there are no pedestrian lights or the pedestrian lights are not green
- stop at yellow lights and arrows when it is safe to do so.
‘Stop’ signs and lines
You must obey ‘Stop’ signs and lines.
At a stop line, you must come to a complete stop and usually give way to any vehicles already in, entering or approaching an intersection.
A stop line is an unbroken white line across a road lane.
‘Give Way’ signs and lines
You must obey ‘Give Way’ signs and lines. A give way line is a broken white line across a road lane.
- At a give way line, you must slow down and stop if necessary to avoid a collision.
- If you are stationary, you must remain stationary until it is safe to go.
- You must give way to any vehicles already in, entering or approaching an intersection.
Turning and signalling
You must give way to pedestrians crossing the road you are turning into whether there are pedestrian lights or not.
Whenever you are moving over to the right or turning right, including when changing lanes or turning right, you must signal with your right hand.
You do not have to signal if you’re turning left, but it’s a good idea to.
What speed am I allowed to ride at?
You must obey the speed limit. It is also a serious offence to ride at a dangerous speed.
Speed limits are the maximum speed you are allowed to ride. You need to ride to the conditions. To ride safely you might need to ride more slowly than the speed limit.
Speed limits are often shown by speed limit signs – but even without signs speed limits still apply:
- In built-up areas where there are no signs, the speed limit is 50 km/h.
- In country areas where there are no signs, the speed limit is 100 km/h.
- Near schools and in shopping strips, the speed limit, marked by a sign, is often 40 km/h.
- In an area shared with pedestrians, and marked by a ‘Shared Zone’ sign, the speed limit is 10 km/h.
Causing a traffic hazard
You must not cause a traffic hazard by putting others at risk. This includes riding into the path of a driver or a pedestrian, riding too fast for the conditions or not looking before pulling out into traffic.
Can I use a mobile phone and ride?
When riding a bike, you must not hold a mobile phone, use it to send text messages or touch it in any way.
You can use a mobile phone as long as it’s fixed to your bike, ‘hands-free’ and only used for calls, listening to music or GPS navigation.
For your safety, it is better not to use your phone at all while riding.
What do I have to do if I’m in a crash?
If you are involved in a crash with another rider, pedestrian or driver, you have certain responsibilities and rights.
If you are in a crash in which someone is hurt, you must:
- stop and help them
- give your name and address to anyone involved, and to any police present
- report the crash to the police.
It is a serious offence if you do not. There are different penalties depending on whether anyone was killed or seriously injured. They may include a large fine or a prison term.