Safe bicycle riding
Riding on the road
Before riding in traffic, it’s important you feel confident and have experience to help keep yourself and others safe. Plan your route so you ride on quieter streets, bicycle lanes and shared paths while you're building your confidence.
Think about your skill level before taking routes with a multi-lane roundabout. Avoid these if you aren't confident.
You can make a right turn in a multi-lane roundabout in two different ways:
Use the outer left lane and give way at each exit to all traffic exiting the roundabout.
Use the inner right lane, just as a car would.
Before entering an intersection, try to make eye contact with the drivers who are giving way. This helps to check if they've seen you.
Bicycle storage areas
Some signalised intersections have bicycle storage areas painted on the road in front of the stop line. These allow you to wait at traffic lights safely. You must wait for the green signal before going and follow the arrows on the road.
A hook turn uses the left lane to turn right and may be useful in heavy traffic. Some intersections have a hook turn storage box painted on the road and you must use it when waiting to turn. However, you can’t make a hook turn at an intersection with a ‘No Hook Turn by Bicycles’ sign. A hook turn is made in three stages:
- Use the far-left side of the road and proceed into the intersection, staying clear of any marked crossings.
- Wait near the far-left side of the intersection and give way to vehicles travelling straight through the intersection. If there are traffic lights, wait until the lights on the road you're entering turn green.
- Make the turn when it’s safe and legal.
Traffic light loops
Most traffic lights are controlled by loops in the road surface near the stop line. Sometimes bikes don’t trigger the loop to change the lights. Try to position your bike in the centre of the square loop.
When turning right, look at the traffic around you first. Indicate for at least 30 seconds, then turn when the traffic is clear. Look over your shoulder to check for hazards beside or behind you before you turn.
Freeways and motorways
On freeways and motorways, you can only ride on the shoulder. When riding on the shoulder:
- Take extra care coming up to and crossing access ramps, as they’re also used by vehicles.
- Where possible, use signposted bicycle crossing areas. Vehicles are generally travelling at high speeds, so allow more space before crossing.
- Avoid riding next to heavy vehicles. Slow down/stop, let them pass and then continue your journey.
You may not be allowed to ride on some sections of the freeway or motorway. Check your route before you start your journey and ensure your map is set to bicycle mode.
Sharing roads and paths
A blind spot is an area drivers can’t see in the back or side mirrors of their vehicle. For trucks, this includes the area in front of their vehicle. Avoid riding in a vehicle’s blind spot for longer than you need to. Ride where they can see you.
Travelling behind a vehicle
When riding behind a moving motor vehicle, you must not ride within 2 metres of the back of the vehicle for more than 200 metres.
Anticipate vehicle movements
Be aware of other road users. Look at:
- the movement of vehicle wheels.
- vehicles speeding up or slowing down.
- brake lights.
- indicators and signals to change direction.
Where you can, make eye contact with other road users and avoid riding next to a motor vehicle for longer than you need to.
Buses and trucks have bigger blind spots, need more room to turn and take longer to stop. If you can’t see the driver, they can’t see you. To help keep you safe around these vehicles:
- avoid riding in their blind spots, which may be in the front, back and sides of the vehicle
- be aware they may take up more than one lane when turning, and don’t overtake them when they’re turning
- avoid stopping suddenly in front of them
- be aware that the wind from them passing you at speed may affect your stability and control.
Rail and tram tracks
Check both ways twice and listen for oncoming trains or trams before you cross a track. Obey the flashing lights or boom gates warning you of an oncoming train. Ride over tracks at a right angle to avoid your wheels getting trapped.
Shared paths can be used by bicycle riders and pedestrians, as well as wheeled toys and recreational devices such as push scooters.
When riding on a shared path, you must:
- Keep to the left (unless it's impractical to do so).
- Give way to pedestrians including wheeled recreational devices and toys. You should always slow down and stop if necessary.
- Keep to the left of any oncoming bicycle rider.
Help make paths safer for everyone by:
- giving pedestrians a metre of space when passing
- using your bell to warn others when you're approaching
- moving off the path to the left if you wish to stop riding and if there's room
- being careful around young children and dogs, as they’re often unpredictable, and older pedestrians who may be more vulnerable to injury
- travelling at a safe speed so you can stop within a safe distance of pedestrians on the path.
Planning a safe journey
Before your ride, plan a route with the safest road conditions for your ability. Try to use bike lanes, quieter roads, and roads with lower speeds.
Riding in the rain
- Make sure your front and rear lights are on and wear reflective clothing (such as a vest) to make yourself more visible in dark, wet and slippery conditions.
- Try to stay upright and steer with your arms instead of leaning into corners with your hips.
- Slow down around corners and on wet roads. Wet riding surfaces reduce traction between the tyres and the surface.
- Use your back brake smoothly and start slowing down well before entering a corner. Using only your front brake in a sudden stop can send you over the handlebars.
- Avoid hazards such as potholes and stormwater grates.
- Don’t ride near drains or through moving water in wet weather. Move towards the centre of your lane when approaching, looking over your shoulder and hand signalling before you do. Move back to the left of the lane once you've passed the hazard or when it's safe.
- Wear brightly coloured waterproof clothing, a high-visibility slap band and a brightly coloured helmet.
Drugs and alcohol
It’s illegal to ride under the influence of drugs or alcohol. It can lower your ability to respond quickly and safely to hazards and is dangerous for you and others around you.
The safest blood alcohol concentration for any road user is zero, so it’s best to not ride if you've been drinking. If you're going out drinking, leave your bike at home. Organise a way home such as a lift with a designated driver, taxi, or public transport.
Some prescription drugs can cause you to feel drowsy and may slow your reaction time. Some medicines that may affect your ability to ride safely include painkillers, sedatives, diet pills, and cold and flu medicines.
Read the label on your medicine or ask your healthcare professional before riding. Don’t ride after taking any medication that warns of an effect.
Riding when you’re sleepy, tired, or exhausted reduces your concentration and judgement and slows down your reaction time. Avoid riding when you're fatigued. If you start to feel fatigued while riding, stop in a safe area and have a break. If you can, take another form of transport for the rest of your journey, such as public transport.
When you need to stop, apply your back brake first, then your front so that your bike comes to a gentle halt. A sudden stop could send you over the handlebars and cause injury.
Check for hazards
Always look for hazards that may cause a crash. Scan the road for holes, gaps, uneven surfaces and debris. Regularly look over your shoulder to check what's beside and behind you.
Avoid wearing headphones while you ride so you can hear noises around you and react to any hazards quickly.
Most bicycle riders already carry identification when riding. You should carry some form of identification to help emergency responders in case you're in a crash.
For more information
Bicycle riders must wear an approved helmet and follow the rules on using mobile phones, riding on footpaths, shared paths and other lanes.