Places to ride

Bicycles are classified as vehicles. As such, bike riders are permitted to travel on arterial roads and local roads. There are some locations that bike riders can use which other road users can’t, like bike lanes and designated bike paths.

They are also able to use shared paths, alongside pedestrians. As such, bike riders are permitted to travel on arterial roads and local roads, and some regional freeways (see below).

Bicycle lanes

A bicycle lane is an on-road marked bike lane designated for bike riders. It will be signed as a bicycle lane at the start of the lane and it will end either where the end bicycle lane sign is posted, or at an intersection.

A bike rider must use a bicycle lane if there is a bike lane on the length of road in the same direction as the bike rider is travelling, unless it is impracticable to do so.

Woman riding bike in a bicycle lane

Paths & footpaths

Bicycle paths

A bicycle path is a separate (usually off road) path designated specifically for bike riders. The length of path will be signed both at the start and end of the bicycle path or where it meets the road or footpath.

Only bike riders and pedestrians who are pushing a wheelchair, on rollerblades, rollerskates or a similar wheeled recreational device can use a designated bicycle path.

Man riding bike on a shared path

Shared paths

Shared paths are areas open to the public that are for both pedestrians and bike riders.

A shared path is identified by the image of a pedestrian and a bike on the pavement or on a post.

Shared footpath sign

On shared paths a bike rider must give way to all pedestrians. Pedestrians include people using wheelchairs, mobility scooters and wheeled recreational devices. Wheeled recreational devices include rollerblades, skates, skateboards and scooters.

A bike rider using a shared path must keep to the left of the path unless it is impractical to do so.

A bike 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.

If riding when dark a bike rider should wear bright, visible clothing, (as well as use front and rear lights), as some parks and paths may not be well lit.

A person using a wheelchair, rollerblades or skates can also use a designated bike path.

Footpaths

People who are able to ride their bike on a footpath include:

  • children under the age of 12
  • adults accompanying children under 12 years
  • Australia Post workers
  • those with a relevant medical certificate.

When riding on a footpath a bike rider must keep to the left, give way to pedestrians and slow down if overtaking.

If riding on a footpath, watch out for drivers entering and exiting driveways who may not be able to see you approaching.

An overview of bicycle infrastructure

Here is an animation that illustrates the variety of infrastructure that is provided for bike riders.  Bike riders can also ride on roads without bike lanes, and can ride on a variety of different types of road (eg local roads, arterial roads, multi-lane roads).  But they cannot ride on urban freeways (see freeway advice below).

 

 

Freeways

Cycling is not allowed on urban freeways. However, cycling is allowed on the shoulders of some parts of rural freeways.

Where bicycles are not permitted, there are signs on the entrance ramps of those sections of freeway indicating 'No Bicycles beyond this point on this freeway except with authority.'

Rural freeways

Cycling is permitted on the shoulders of some parts of the following rural sections of freeways: Western Freeway, Goulburn Valley Freeway, Calder Freeway, Hume Freeway, Princes Highway West (west of Werribee) and Princes Freeway East.

Urban freeways

Cycling is not permitted on the following urban freeways:

  • Western Ring Road
  • Metropolitan Ring Road
  • Eastern Freeway
  • Tullamarine Freeway
  • Monash Freeway
  • West Gate Freeway
  • Mornington Peninsula Freeway
  • Frankston Freeway
  • South Gippsland Freeway
  • Princes Freeway West (east of Werribee)
  • Princes Freeway East (urban section)
  • Calder Freeway (urban section)
  • Western Freeway (urban section)
  • Hume Freeway (urban section)
  • Peninsula Link
  • East Link 
  • City Link.

There are signs indicating ‘No Bicycles beyond this point on this freeway’ on the entry ramps along the urban freeways listed above.

Why is cycling permitted on some freeways and not others?

Cycling is permitted on the shoulders of rural freeways because:

  • these areas provide the most practical route for bike riders
  • these areas have relatively low volumes of traffic on main roads and entry and exit ramps that bike riders need to cross.

Cycling is not permitted on urban freeways because:

  • there are other safer routes that bike riders can take
  • these areas carry relatively high volumes of traffic, including entry and exit ramps. There are many more ramps on urban freeways and these ramps often have more than one lane.

Tips for cycling on rural freeways

  • Ride as near as practical to the left side of the sealed road shoulder.
  • Travel in single file, except where there are wide sealed shoulders.
  • Travel in the same direction as traffic.
  • When crossing freeway entry or exit ramps, follow signs as directed.
  • Cross freeway ramps at right angles. Don't cross diagonally.
  • Use bicycle paths and alternative non-freeway routes where directed by signs.

Children are discouraged from riding on freeways, as they have not developed the necessary road skills.

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