Bike riders and sharing the road
Tips about how bike riders and other road users can share the road and paths safely.
Bicycles are vehicles and are permitted to use the road, just like drivers. Bike riders are therefore required to obey the same road rules as drivers.
Drivers should look out for bike riders, who in turn should ride safely and responsibly.
How bike riders should share the road
- Obey the road rules and stop at all red traffic lights and stop signs.
- Wear bright coloured clothing and use lights when cycling at night.
- Ride predictably and indicate to drivers when you intend to turn or change direction.
- Bike riders should look out for drivers and passengers getting in and out of parked cars and be aware of the risk of car doors opening.
- Bike riders are allowed to ride side by side (two abreast) but no more than 1.5 metres apart. If the road is narrow be courteous to other road users and ride single file to allow vehicles to overtake safely.
How drivers should share the road with bike riders
- Be patient and give bike riders a clearance of at least one metre when passing them, more if travelling over 60km/h. If this clearance isn’t possible don’t overtake until it is safe to do so. After overtaking, make sure you are well clear of the bicycle before moving back.
- Watch out for bike riders at intersections and roundabouts.
- Drive slowly and watch out for bike riders in residential streets.
- Check behind before opening your car door, use your mirrors as well as checking over your shoulder.
- Do not drive in bicycle lanes.
- Give way to bike riders in bicycle lanes if you are turning across the lane.
- Indicate when pulling out, changing lanes or turning, so bike riders know your intentions.
- View our video Checking for cyclists and motorcyclists for more information about how to be aware of cyclists when opening your car door.
How bike riders should cycle on shared paths
There are also some specific rules for bicycle riders when using shared paths:
- On footpaths or shared paths a bicycle rider must give way to all pedestrians. Pedestrians include people using vision aids, wheelchairs, mobility scooters and wheeled recreational devices. Wheeled recreational devices include rollerblades, skates, skateboards and scooters.
- A bicycle rider using a footpath or shared path must keep to the left of the path unless it is impractical to do so.
- A bicycle rider is required to have a bell or similar warning device on his or her bicycle. When overtaking other path users a bike rider should use this warning device or his or her voice to warn others.
For more information about the road rules, see Road rules A- Z Bicycles
How bike riders should share the road with people with vision impairment
Unlike a motor vehicle, a bicycle does not emit adequate sound to alert the pedestrian to their approach. Bicycle riders should ride with extra caution around people with vision impairment. Ringing the bicycle bell or using your voice lets the pedestrian know the bicycle is nearby. Please slow down and give plenty of space if you are overtaking.
Are the road rules for bike riders the same as those for drivers?
Yes, except for a few differences and some additional rules for bike riders.
Are bike riders required to signal when turning?
Bike riders must signal when turning right, and can help share the road more safely by riding predictably, using eye contact and indicating all changes of direction.
Are bike riders allowed to pass other vehicles on the left?
Yes, except when those vehicles are indicating and turning left.
Are adults allowed to ride on the footpath?
Only if accompanying a bike rider under the age of 12, or if suffering a disability and carrying a relevant medical certificate or otherwise exempted. Bike riders must always give way to pedestrians on footpaths and shared paths.
How much clearance should a driver allow when overtaking a bike rider?
Allow at least a metre clearance, and more if travelling at over 60 km/h.
Is it against the law to ride in low light conditions without bike lights?
A bike rider must use a front light, rear light (flashing or steady), and a rear red reflector when riding at night or in conditions where visibility is poor.
Are bike riders allowed to occupy a whole traffic lane?
Yes, this may be necessary in narrow traffic lanes where there is not enough space for another vehicle to overtake a bicycle safely within the lane.
Are drivers allowed to use bike lanes?
Yes, but for no more than 50 metres, and only where necessary to pass a vehicle to pass a vehicle turning right, to enter or leave a side street, another traffic lane or parking space, or when stopping or parking if allowed.
Is it against the law to open a car door into the path of a person or vehicle?
Yes, this is a particular danger for bike riders, and a driver or passenger who does so can be fined, so please use your mirrors and do a head check before opening a car door.
Are bike riders required to use on-road bike lanes where they are provided?
Yes, unless impracticable to do so.
Is it the law to wear a helmet?
Yes, bike riders cycling on roads or paths are required to wear a properly fastened Australian standards approved bicycle helmet.
Are bike riders allowed to ride two abreast?
Yes, but they must not ride more than 1.5 metres apart.
Cycling Codes of Conduct
On 17 July 2013, the Amy Gillett Foundation launched a consolidated cycling code of conduct titled ‘Sharing Roads and Paths’. The code brings key cycling related road rules and responsibilities together into one easy to use guide aimed at informing all road users on how to share spaces safely with bicycle riders.
Download a copy of Sharing Roads and Paths [PDF 856 Kb]
Cycling Victoria have also developed the ‘Code of Conduct for Training Cyclists’. It is designed to encourage safe riding by bike riders, particularly when riding in groups.
Download a copy of the Code of Conduct for Training Cyclists [PDF 1.2Mb]
The purpose of both Codes of Conduct are to encourage bike riders to ride in a safer manner, to increase their compliance with the road rules and to show more respect for other road users.