Overview of the Road Rules and Regulations
The relevant regulations, under the Road Safety Act 1986 (Vic) (‘Road Safety Act’) are the:
- Road Safety Road Rules 2017 (Vic) (‘Road Rules’ or ‘RR’) – these are the Victorian version of the Australian Road Rules;
- Road Safety (Vehicles) Interim Regulations 2020 (Vic) (‘Vehicles Regulations’); and
- Road Safety (General) Regulations 2019 (Vic) (‘RS General Regulations’).
The Vehicles Regulations will expire on 3 October 2021. Use of this chapter after that date should be supplemented with a check against any new vehicle regulations that come into effect.
From 1 January 2020, the functions and powers held by VicRoads under the Road Safety Act 1986 (Vic) were transferred to the Secretary of the Victorian Government Department of Transport (‘Department of Transport’) and the Head of Transport Victoria under the Transport Legislation Amendment Act 2019 (Vic).
A note on penalties
Each of the penalties indicated in this chapter is the maximum prescribed by legislation for a first offence, if the matter proceeds to court. Each offence applicable to cyclists, skaters or pedestrians can also be dealt with by a traffic infringement notice (an on-the-spot fine) as per Part 7 of the RS General Regulations.
For the period 1 July 2021 to 30 June 2022, one penalty unit (pu) equals $181.74 under Victorian state law. For more information, see the Department of Justice’s website.
Schedule 7 of the RS General Regulations states that for many bicycle offences, the fine is between 1–3 pu.
However, on-the-spot fines (also known as infringement penalties) for failing to obey traffic lights or stop or give way signs are the same for cyclists as they are for motorists (that is, 2.5 pu for failing to obey traffic lights, and 2 pu for failing to obey stop or give way signs).
On-the-spot fines for most pedestrian (and hence, skater) offences are 0.5 pu.
Who and what do the Road Rules cover?
The Road Rules (RR) define various words in the dictionary at the end of the Road Rules (‘RR dictionary’). The definitions below are from this dictionary.
A ‘bicycle’ is included in the definition of ‘vehicle’ in Road Rule 15 and is defined in the RR dictionary as:
a vehicle with two or more wheels that is built to be propelled partly or wholly by human power through a belt, chain or gears (whether or not it has an auxiliary motor), and:
a. includes a pedicab, penny-farthing and tricycle; and
b. includes a power-assisted pedal cycle within the meaning of vehicle standards, as amended from time to time, determined under section 7 of the Motor Vehicle Standards Act 1989 (Cth); but
c. does not include an electric personal transporter, scooter, wheelchair, wheeled recreational device, wheeled toy, or any vehicle with an auxiliary motor capable of generating a power output over 200 watts (whether or not the motor is operating), other than a vehicle referred to in paragraph (b)).
A ‘power-assisted pedal cycle’ is defined in the Vehicle Standard (Australian Design Rule – Definitions and Vehicle Categories) 2005 (Cth) (‘Vehicle Standard’). Clause 4.2.2 of the Vehicle Standard sets out the vehicle category of ‘Power-assisted pedal cycle AB’.
The Vehicle Standard lists two types of legal motorised bicycle (i.e. e-bikes):
- A bicycle with one or more auxiliary electric motors that has a combined maximum power output not exceeding 200 watts.
- A bicycle certified as a ‘Pedalec’. This means that the bicycle is compliant with the European Committee for Standardization (EN 15194:2009 or EN 15194:2009+A1:2011 Cycles – Electrically power-assisted cycles – EPAC Bicycles). To be compliant, a bicycle’s auxiliary motor must produce no more than 250 watts of continuous power that can only be accessed by pedalling. The bicycle’s maximum power-assisted pedalling speed must not exceed 25 kilometres per hour, and the power cuts out above this speed.
Any bicycle that does not require pedalling to operate, or does not meet the requirements of one of the two types of legal e-bike outlined above, is considered to be a motor cycle.
Wheeled recreation devices
The definition of a ‘wheeled recreation device’ is:
[a] wheeled device, built to transport a person, propelled by human power or gravity (or in the case of a scooter, propelled by a person pushing one foot against the ground, or by an electric motor or motors, or by a combination of these) and ordinarily used for recreation or play.
Wheeled recreation devices include rollerblades, rollerskates, skateboards, scooters that are not motor vehicles, and similar wheeled devices.
Wheeled recreation devices do not include golf buggies, prams, strollers, trolleys, bicycles, electric personal transporters, wheelchairs, wheeled toys, or scooters that are motor vehicles.
People riding wheeled recreation devices are considered to be pedestrians (RR 18). For some rules relating to pedestrians, see ‘Riding on paths and in bicycle lanes’, below.
The riders of scooters, although considered to be riding wheeled recreation devices, have been singled out for greater regulation.
A ‘cyclist’ is not defined in the Road Rules but is included within the definition of ‘rider’: a ‘person who is riding a motorbike, bicycle, animal or animal-drawn vehicle’ (RR 17(1)).
This does not include a passenger or a person walking beside and pushing a bicycle (RR 17(2)).
Riders and riding
Road Rule 19 states that all references to ‘driver’ and ‘driving’ in the Road Rules include a reference to ‘rider’ and ‘riding’, unless otherwise stated.
Therefore, cyclists are subject to the general Road Rules that govern all traffic on the road and, in particular, to the rules governing speed limits, pedestrians and traffic control devices (e.g. signs and signals).
Several rules dealing specifically with bicycles and their riders are set out in Part 15 of the Road Rules.
Roads and road-related areas: Definitions
The Road Rules apply to vehicles and road users on roads and road-related areas (RR 11). However, these terms are quite broadly defined.
‘Road user’ is defined to include a rider (RR 14).
The definition of a ‘road’ (RR 12) is:
an area that is open to or used by the public and is developed for, or has as one of its main uses, the driving or riding of motor vehicles [or any area declared under the Road Safety Act].
The ‘road’ does not include the ‘shoulder’ (RR 12(3)), which is:
an area (not being part of the road) adjoining the road that is open to or used by the public for driving, riding or parking motor vehicles and to which a parking control sign does not apply.
A ‘road-related area’ includes footpaths, nature strips, and areas that divide roads. Road-related areas also include areas that, while not roads, are open to the public and are designated for use by cyclists or animals, or are used by the public for driving, riding or parking motor vehicles (RR 13).