Safe bike-riding guidelines

No matter how old you are, there’s nothing like jumping on a bike and exploring your local area. Learning to ride a bike is a rite of passage for almost every Australian and going on long rides together can really bring the family together.

More and more people are riding bikes for a variety of reasons – for physical activity, environmental reasons and just to get a breath of fresh air during COVID-19 lockdowns. But no matter why you’re doing it, you need to understand and abide by safe bike-riding guidelines.

What are the main road rules for bike riding?

Just like driving a car, riding a bike means understanding the road rules and ensuring you abide by them – for your own safety and the safety of others. Here are some of the main road rules to understand before setting out on your next ride:

#1: Follow the same road rules as motor vehicles

In addition to the obvious – i.e. always wear a helmet and ride in the bicycle lanes wherever possible – you’ll need to obey all the same road rules that drivers in vehicles abide by.

That means stopping at stop signs and red lights, giving way at the appropriate signs as well as at roundabouts when a vehicle is leaving it. Read about your specific state’s road rules for cycling for more information.

#2: Watch for turning cars

Cars that turn across a cyclist’s path account for a large percentage of road accidents and fatalities. It’s an unfortunate fact of life that cars are much more dangerous to bikes than vice-versa, so you need to take extra precautions to always watch what other vehicles are doing, especially when they are turning in your direction.

And because you don’t have indicators to signal when you are turning, you’ll need to ensure you make the proper hand signals to advise other drivers and cyclists of your intention to make a turn.

#3: Ride as close as possible to the left side of the road

This is not just a recommendation for your safety – it’s a road rule in Australia. While you’re allowed to ride side-by-side with another cyclist, there must be at least 1.5 metres between you, and you should always stay as far to the left as is possible.

Also, if you’re riding on a shared path with other cyclists and pedestrians, you must always keep left and give way to walkers and runners. Don’t forget about that courtesy ring of your bell when approaching someone.

Important bike-riding safety tips

So, you’re across all the relevant road rules and you’re ready to strap on a helmet and get cycling! But wait – you also need to remember some critical safety tips while out and about:

Always check your bike before leaving: Failure to prepare is preparing to fail. So, if you don’t want to find yourself with a broken-down bike several kilometres from home, then always check it before heading off for a ride. It only takes a few minutes, so make sure you check and test the wheels, tyres, brakes, chain (add grease as needed) and gear shifts.

Wear appropriate clothing: You’ve got your helmet, but what else? Always wear enclosed shoes while bike riding, and consider bringing along a hi-vis vest or bright-coloured jacket in case you are riding home when it’s getting dark. It’s very easy for drivers to not see cyclists at dusk and dawn   or whenever there’s poor light.

Attach reflectors and lights: Much like wearing a hi-vis vest, reflectors and lights can help other vehicles see you while you’re riding – especially at night-time. It might be an extra expense, but when it’s the difference between a smooth ride and a potential accident, that safety equipment will pay for itself in no time.

Stay safe, have fun!

Safe bike riding is about more than getting the right helmet and knowing the road rules. Cycling can be a great way to enjoy the environment, explore the great outdoors, lessen your carbon footprint, get healthier and have fun! Knowing what you should and shouldn’t do on the roads and cycle paths can give you confidence and help to keep you safe. It’s never nice to think about, but road accidents are very common and can result in serious injury or even death. 

To protect your way of life, and the life you’ve built for your family, consider life insurance

Cycle expert Jane

Jane Toohey

Jane, a seasoned cyclist and passionate advocate for pedal-powered adventures, has explored Australia’s diverse landscapes on two wheels for decades. As the founder of Australian Cycle Tours, she curates exceptional cycling experiences that reveal the true essence of this vast continent.

Jane’s love affair with cycling began in the rugged outback, and her expertise extends beyond riding; she understands the soul of each region—the stories whispered by eucalyptus trees, the secrets hidden in coastal cliffs, and the camaraderie found in quaint country towns.

Whether it’s a self-guided journey along Victoria’s historic rail trails or a supported tour through the Southern Highlands, Jane’s commitment to authenticity shines through. She believes that every pedal stroke reveals a new facet of Australia.