The Australian Road Rules dictionary defines wheeled vehicles, both powered and unpowered. People riding wheeled recreation vehicles (skateboards, roller skates, roller blades and scooters) are considered pedestrians. Cyclists are subject to the road rules and are liable to penalties for failure to obey traffic lights and stop and give way signs. Minimum equipment for bicycles are a brake, warning device or bell and lights for night riding. Helmets are compulsory. Scooter riders must wear helmets if travelling on the road. Cyclists must not ride more than two abreast on the road. Scooter riders must wear helmets if travelling on the road. Skateboarding is forbidden in some areas of the City of Melbourne but encouraged in others. Car occupants commit an offence if they open a door and a cyclist rides into it, known as dooring. Bicycle storage boxes at intersections are explained, along with the new rules relating to them.

Contributors

Glenn Osboldstone

Principal Legislation Officer, Environment Protection Authority Victoria

Dru Marsh

Manager of Internal Review, Environment Protection Authority Victoria

General road laws

Last updated

1 July 2020

The road laws apply to all vehicles, including bicycles.

Traffic signals

Cyclists, like other road users, must stop:

  • where indicated to do so by a red traffic light arrow (RR 56; maximum penalty: 10 pu);
  • at a stop sign or other traffic control signal (RR 67; maximum penalty: 10 pu; RR 68; maximum penalty: 5 pu for cyclists); or
  • where the lights are yellow, if it is possible to safely stop before reaching the lights or intersection (RR 57; maximum penalty: 5 pu; RR 261; maximum penalty: 10 pu).

The above also applies to shared footpaths, separated footpaths and bicycle paths, and where there are bicycle crossing lights (RR 260; maximum penalty: 10 pu; RR 262; maximum penalty: 5 pu).

Stopping near trams

RR 163 (driving past the rear of a stopped tram at a tram stop) and RR 164 (stopping beside a stopped tram at a tram stop) make it clear it is permissible to proceed past a stopped tram, at no more than 10 kilometres per hour, once the doors are closed and there are no pedestrians crossing. Failing to comply with these rules carries a maximum penalty of 10 pu. Schedule 7 of the RS General Regulations imposes a 2.5 pu infringement penalty on these offences.

Giving way

All road users, including cyclists, must give way:

  • when changing lanes (RR 148; maximum penalty: 5 pu);
  • at intersections in accordance with RR 72, 73 (maximum penalty: 5 pu);
  • at give way signs or give way lines (RR 69–71; maximum penalty for cyclists: 5 pu; maximum penalty for any other vehicle: 10 pu);
  • to any vehicle leaving a roundabout, where the driver or cyclist is in the far left marked lane of a roundabout with two or more lanes (RR 119; maximum penalty: 3 pu);
  • when making U-turns (RR 38; maximum penalty: 5 pu);
  • to buses merging into traffic after having recently stopped (RR 77; maximum penalty: 5 pu);
  • to trams (RR 76; maximum penalty: 3 pu);
  • to any vehicle already in a roundabout and to any tram that is entering or approaching the roundabout (RR 114; maximum penalty: 5 pu);
  • to emergency vehicles with their flashing lights or sirens on (RR 78, 79; maximum penalty: 5 pu);
  • at marked foot crossings with flashing yellow traffic lights (RR 65; maximum penalty: 10 pu);
  • at any pedestrian crossing with a pedestrian on or entering the crossing (RR 81(2); maximum penalty: 5 pu). At ‘children’s crossings’ (which are defined in RR 80(6) and always have ‘stop lines’, i.e. a continuous line marked on the road) with pedestrians on them) the driver or cyclist must come to a full stop and not proceed until the crossing is clear (RR 80; penalty: 10 pu);
  • to any pedestrian crossing the road to board, or alight from, a tram (RR 164; maximum penalty: 10 pu); once a tram’s doors have closed – and there are no pedestrians getting on the tram or crossing the road between the tram and the footpath – cyclists and drivers can proceed past the tram at 10 kilometres per hour or slower. 

Also, drivers must give way to cyclists who are at or near an intersection that has bicycle crossing lights  and who are crossing the road the driver is entering (RR 62(1)(b)).

What is dooring?

‘Dooring’ is when someone causes a hazard to a cyclist by opening a car door. Many bicycle crashes occur when car occupants carelessly fail to check before opening their doors; cyclists can be hit by the door and even go into the path of oncoming traffic. Several cyclists have died from car-dooring incidents. Dooring is an offence (RR 269(3); maximum penalty: 10 pu). RR 269(3) states, ‘A person must not cause a hazard to any person or vehicle by opening a door of a vehicle, leaving a door of a vehicle open, or getting off, or out of, a vehicle.’

Accidents

If you are involved in a crash with another cyclist, pedestrian or driver, in which someone is hurt or property is damaged, you must:

  • stop and help the injured person;
  • give your name and address to anyone involved, and to any police officers present;
  • report the crash to the police.

Failing to stop and help is a serious offence (see above – s 61A RS Act). For more information, see ‘What to do after an accident’ in Chapter 10.5: Motor vehicle accidents and insurance.

Taking action against dangerous drivers and aggression towards cyclists

Aggression towards cyclists is sadly a common experience for many cyclists in Victoria. Even in the absence of aggression, on average nine cyclists a year are killed on Victorian roads and over 400 require hospitalisation from road-related injuries annually (see www.tac.vic.gov.au/road-safety/statistics/online-crash-database).

One way of holding motorists to account is to report their driving behaviour to Victoria Police. If you are injured or impacted by a motorist, and you can remember their registration details, then you should consider making a statement at your nearest police station.

If the police officer is satisfied that your account of the reported incident provides reasonable grounds, then the officer may serve a notice on the registered owner of the vehicle involved in the incident (s 60 RS Act). Under this section of the RS Act, the registered owner must provide details of who was driving the vehicle at the time of the alleged incident. If the officer is not satisfied with the driver’s account of the allegations, then they may choose to take further action.

If you have property damage or are injured, you might also want to consider bringing a civil action against the offender or, if you are eligible, lodging a claim with the TAC.

Of course, often this means it is your word against the driver’s (unless you can secure witness statements). However, taking these few steps may help to encourage drivers to consider their actions more carefully in the future, which may in turn help to make the roads safer for all cyclists in Victoria.

For more information, contact Victoria Police or make a report online via www.police.vic.gov.au/palolr.

Back to
Houses, communities and the road

Buy the chapter ‘Road law for cyclists and skaters’