There is simply no greater pleasure than riding your bike. It’s awesome. End of story.
Though we must admit, that riding a bike isn’t all pictures of smiling faces, and lattes posted on instagram for the world to see. It’s hard work. But at the end of the day, or by the time we have our hands wrapped around a coffee, we see that the hard work was totally worth it and in some weird twisted way it actually was fun. Cycling DOES rule.
Though there is the odd moment in time when cycling doesn’t rule. Recently newspapers seem to be sprinkled with stories of cyclists hit by cars, hit and runs, and cyclists dying. Only last week I saw a pizza delivery guy on his pushy hit by a car. Every time I read and hear of these stories, it hurts. And it hurts every time. Sometimes its accidental, and on occasion it is purposeful. My question is… Why can’t the bike and car cohabitate? In reality the majority of bicycle riders and car drivers get along just fine. Unfortunately it’s the occasional driver, or rider that disturbs the peace.
So lets have a look at what we can do as cyclists and motorists to make sure that we are living in peace and harmony together.
As a cyclist we can…
As a cyclist, we have rules that we must follow. And like motorists, we are eligible to receive fines if we break the rules. And that’s fair. There are rules that generally don’t apply to road cyclists, because we tend to not do the activities that are stated in the rules… like “carrying more persons than the bicycle is designed for”… unless your passenger wants to sit on your tri bars, you could receive a severe wedgie AND a $121 fine…
Let’s have a look at the ones that apply to road bike cyclists… *Please note these are for QLD, Australia
Here are some bicycle rules that are common sense:
- Failing to stop before riding across a children’s or pedestrian crossing $121
- Riding on the pedestrian side of a separated footpath $121
- Riding a bicycle not on the left of a footpath or shared path $121
- Failing to five way to a pedestrian on a footpath or shared path $121
- Failing to keep left of an oncoming bicycle on a path $121
- Disobeying a no bicycle sign or marking on a road or footpath $121
Some rules that may surprise you:
- Riding a bicycle within 2m of the rear of a moving motor vehicle for more than 200m $121
- Riding a bicycle without brakes, and a bell, horn or similar warning device $121
- Leading an animal while riding a bicycle $121
It is common sense that your brakes are working on your bike, only ONE set have to be working. But unless you fancy a trip over your handlebars, it might be worth investing some time and money in getting BOTH of them working.
It is an industry standard for bicycles to come to a bike shop with reflectors on the wheels, and a bell on the handle bars. Take a moment to realise how uncool you will look riding around on your $10,00 super aero and uber-fine-tuned racing machine with a bell… Ding, Ding. So these are usually taken off the bike before you even get to see it dressed to totally un-impress us.
Somewhere on the grape vine I have heard that police are starting to crack down on bells on bikes. So it might be worth investing some time to find something that works for you. Garmin have mounts for their bike computers with a bell… and it doesn’t impose on the aesthetics of your bike…
This is the only rule I have a real issue with. Imagine a car bleating its horn at you, and all you can do is ding a bell back… It makes cyclists look tough (not) and the bell is totally ineffective. A bike rider on a footpath however, is a different kettle of fish. A bell is much needed there!
Remember that the same rules as a car apply for you when you are riding your bike on a road. We must always be proactive in making sure we do the following:
- Give way, and stop at intersections/traffic lights as you would when you are driving your car $365
- We must ALWAYS stop (even when unclipping can be a pain!) at a traffic light when it is red $365
- We must try our best to signal our direction intentions (roundabouts, left hand and right hand turns…) $73
Okay so we have to make sure that we notice SIGNS on the roads, we can’t roll through stop signs, or treat them like they are give way signs. We must unclip, or if you are super cool and have some mad skills, balance away, but our wheels MUST stop.
Sharing the road:
- You can choose whether or not to ride in a bicycle lane where one is provided. You must not ride in a bicycle lane on the wrong side of the road (travelling towards oncoming traffic).
- You can choose to ride on the road shoulder or either side of a continuous white edge line on a bicycle. You must give way to vechiles on the road when moving back into the lane from the road shoulder.
- You ARE permitted to ride your bicycle in special purpose lanes including bicycle lanes, bus lanes.
Sharing the road seems to be the biggest issue. Make sure that you know how you are meant to conduct yourself on the road. The rules state that we are able to CHOOSE whether we use a bike lane or not, and that we are able to CHOOSE to ride outside the white line on the shoulder. We can also CHOOSE to ride inside the white line on the shoulder. I always opt for what I deem the safest option for the stretch of road I am on. If there is not much of a shoulder, obviously you ride inside the white line. If there are pot holes and debris ride inside the white line. Make sure that you ride as far left as you can do, and make sure that it is safe for you to do so! If there is a bike lane there, lap up that luxury!
You must use a hand signal when you turn right. TO do this, extend your right arm out horizontally – at a right angle from the right side of the bicycle. Your hand should be open with your palm facing forward…
Check out The Language of Bike for more signalling info.
Bicycles are a type of vehicle – when you ride a bicycle on a Queensland road, you have rights and responsibilities like all other road users.
As a motorist we can…
Sometimes when you are engaged in conversation with people on cycling and motorists, its always important for everyone to remember that most cyclists also drive a car, and understand the frustrations that some motorists experience. Regardless of what any one thinks, these are the rules…
Passing cyclists safely:
Motorists must stay wider of the bicycle riders by giving a MINIMUM of:
- 1m when passing a bicycle rider in a 60km/h or less speed zone or
- 1.5m where the speed limit is over 60km/h.
Note: The passing distances is measured from the rightmost part of the bicycle/person on the bicycle to the left most part of the vehicle/something protruding from the vehicle (like the side mirror).
Crossing lines to pass a bicycle rider:
As long as it is safe to do so – you are allowed to:
- Drive over the centre lines (including double unbroken centre lines) on a 2-way road
- Drive on a painted island
- Straddle or cross a lane line on a multi-lane road.
If it’s not safe to pass a bicycle rider, you MUST wait until it is safe to pass.
Passing 2 bicycle riders riding side-by-side:
If you want to pass 2 bicycle riders that are riding next to each other, the minimum passing distances applies to the bicycle rider closest to the right. It is legal for 2 bicycle riders to ride side-by-side on a road, as long as they are not more than 1.5m apart.
It is legal for 2 bicycle riders to ride side-by-side on a road, as long as they are not more than 1.5m apart.
Make sure you treat bicycle riders like any other vehicles on the road. Give way to them when required and travel at a safe following distance.
As a motorist, you will get 3 demerit points and a $365 fine if you do not give the minimum distance when you pass a bicycle rider. If the matter goes to court, a maximum fine of $4,876 can apply.
Be Patient and considerate:
Watch out for bicyle riders at all times, but especially at night, dawn or dusk. Be considerate and dip your headlights when approaching a bicycle rider at night.
Be patient. If it isn’t safe to pass a bicycle rider, wait until it is safe. This should not hold you up for long and it could save the bicycle rider’s life.
Key things to remember as a driver:
Always use your common sense, obey the road rules and remember:
- Check your surroundings and the vehicles around you.
- If it is safe, indicate and pass the bicycle rider at the minimum distance.
- If it is not safe, slow down and wait until it is safe for you to pass.
PLEASE NOTE: All information provided can be found here.
I think the main thing we can do as cyclists and motorists is abide by the laws, and make sure that we are keeping ourselves and each other as safe as we possibly can on the road.
At the end of the day, I am a daughter, a sister, a girlfriend, a friend, and a mother to my fur child. And so are you, you are also a daughter or a son, a girlfriend or a boyfriend, a sister or a brother, a friend, a mother or a father. We are all people. And we have people who love us. People who will hurt if you don’t give the next cyclist that meter that they deserve, or if we don’t ride being mindful of a car needing to pass us safely.
No pointing fingers, and more understanding and respect from every road user will see our roads a safer place for ALL.
Cycling is a great lifestyle. Its healthy, its active, you meet heaps of new and great people. It is very rare that you should have any issues with cars. Just be mindful to follow the rules, and you should have very little issues! And remember, don’t let one bad experience hinder you from your next ride! Cycling is too awesome to let that stop you getting out there and enjoying an amazing ride and coffee with friends!
Happy and safe riding girls xxx