Whether you’re riding a bike or driving a car, you have the same rights and responsibilities when you’re using the road. To stay safe, bike riders need to obey the road rules, ride predictably, share the road respectfully and safely, and ensure their bicycles are properly maintained.
According to VicRoads, between 2002 and 2012 there were an average of eight bike rider fatalities and 413 serious injuries per year. While some of these incidents were unavoidable, there are precautions – and legal requirements – you can take to better ensure your safety.
In this blog, u-Law provide you information on bicycle safety tips and laws, as well as what you should do if you’re involved in a crash, particularly if you weren’t following the road rules. Keep reading to learn more.
The road rules
As a cyclist, you must follow many of the same rules as a motorist. These include:
- Safe riding: Face forwards and have at least one hand on the handlebars, and keep a safe distance between you and any traffic in front of you. Make sure you have enough space to stop safely.
- Traffic lights & signs: Just like driving a car, you must observe and obey traffic lights, signs and road markings. You must also follow the road rules on stopping and giving way.
- Turning and signalling: When you’re moving to the right (including changing lanes), you must signal by extending your right arm out to the side. Unless there’s a sign that prohibits it, you may also perform a hook turn for right turns as this is generally a safer option. You don’t have to signal if you’re turning left, although it’s a good idea to do so.
- Speed: While you must not exceed the speed limit of a road, in order to ride safely you might need to ride more slowly than the speed limit. Speed limits are a maximum, not a minimum requirement.
- Mobile phones: You must not hold a mobile phone or use it to send messages while riding a bike. You can use it hands-free for calls, listening to music or GPS navigation.
Make sure you can be seen
Perhaps the most important rule bike riders should follow is ensuring you’re visible to other road users, especially motorists. If a motorist is unable to see you, this significantly increases the likelihood of a serious accident. It’s recommended that you wear bright colours while riding a bike to help you stand out, even during the day.
At night, there are laws regarding cyclist visibility to help ensure the safety of you and other road users. All bikes must legally attach the following lights before riding at night:
- A white light on the front, visible from 200 metres
- A red light on the back, visible from 200 metres
- A red reflector on the back, visible from 50 metres
Breaking the rules
When you break a road rule, you’re committing a traffic offence. The severity of the offence will determine the consequences; they can vary from on-the-spot fines to convictions and prison sentences.
If the rule you broke is considered minor, you’ll be given an infringement notice by a police officer. This infringement notice will list the rule you broke, the fine amount, the due date for the payment, and how to pay.
If the offence is more serious, such as dangerous riding, you could receive a large fine or even a prison term. Things that are considered dangerous riding include riding too fast for the conditions and not looking out for pedestrians. In some cases, not having lights fitted to your bike may also be considered dangerous riding.
If you’re involved in a crash
Just like when you’re driving, if you’re involved in a crash with a third party, you have certain responsibilities and rights. If someone is hurt, you must do the following:
- Stop and help them
- Give your name and address to anyone involved
- Report the crash to the police
It’s a serious offence if you don’t. If you believe your accident makes you eligible for TAC compensation, you must also report the accident to the police, so it’s in your best interests to always follow these steps.
However, if you were breaking the road rules when the accident occurred, you may not be eligible for any compensation and could actually be considered at fault. This is especially the case if you did not have any lights on your bike and a motorist was unable to see you.
In these cases, it’s recommended you seek legal counsel. At u-Law, we’ll be able to provide unbiased advice unique to your individual situation, which will ensure you know exactly where you stand. You can book an appointment with us online or give our team a call today on 1300 166 022.