Sharing the Road – Common Rules for Cyclists and Motorists

Cyclists and motorists have the same rights and responsibilities when using our roads. Sadly, sometimes motorists and cyclists engage in risky behaviour that puts themselves and other road users at risk. Not following the rules might result in an accident causing injury – and there could be grounds for a claim for negligence.

Although motorists and bicycle riders must obey the same general road rules, cyclists must also adhere to specific bicycle road rules

Need a refresh? We’re dishing one up.

The 1m rule

Remember the outpour of confusion by motorists and the cries of joy and ‘about time!’ from cyclists when this law was introduced? Basically, motorists approaching or passing a cyclist on the road must allow at least a 1m space in a 60km/h or less speed zone. When the speed limit is over 60km/h, then motorists have to stay wider than 1.5m to pass the cyclist. 

Riding two in a lane

It’s a myth that cyclists must only ride in single file while on roads. It is perfectly legal for two cyclists to ride side by side provided there’s no more than 1.5m between them. So, no more getting cranky at cyclists and calling them ‘lane hogs’ – they are within their right.

Cyclists must:

  • not ride with more than 2 riders side by side unless overtaking another rider
  • ride no more than 1.5m apart, if travelling beside another rider.

Riding too close to a vehicle

Cyclists must keep at least 2m between them and the back of a vehicle when following that vehicle for over 200m. This seems sensible; you don’t want to go head over handlebars because you were sniffing someone’s exhaust and were unable to stop in time!

Roundabouts

This one has the potential to cause confusion (and trouble!).

In a single-lane roundabout, cyclists can choose to take up the whole lane like other road users. At multi-lane roundabouts, motor vehicle drivers who want to turn right must enter the roundabout and turn from the right lane (unless signs or road markings indicate otherwise). However, Queensland’s road rules state that when you are riding a bicycle, you may enter the roundabout and turn right from the left or right lane. Bet you didn’t realise that! So, it’s important that motorists and cyclists are always alert, using roundabouts sensibly and safely to avoid collisions.

What are the penalties for breaking the law?

The same fines apply for both motorists and cyclists caught disobeying the law. Just as motor vehicle drivers can’t drink and drive, use their mobile, speed, and run red traffic lights, cyclists can’t either. 

As a motorist, if you don’t give the minimum distance when you pass a cyclist, you will get 3 demerit points and a $400 fine. If the matter goes to court, a maximum fine of more than $5,300 can apply. The consequences could be far worse (for you and the cyclist) if you hit the cyclist.

We’re all equal users of our roads with equal rights to be on them – so, let’s stop hating on each other and drive and ride safely and respectfully of one another. 

What happens if you’re in an accident?

If you’re in a motor vehicle / cyclist accident and suffered injuries as a result of the other party’s negligence, than you may be able to start a claim for compensation. 

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