Cyclists

Cyclists share the same rights and responsibilities as drivers and must obey the road rules.

Cyclists are vulnerable road users, so for their safety extra precautions and awareness are required from both cyclists and drivers.

FAQs – Keeping a safe distance when passing

The State Government has announced new minimum passing distance laws to protect one group of our most vulnerable road users – cyclists.

Might be a Mate, Must be a Meter campaign poster

From 30 November 2017, a driver of a motor vehicle must pass a bicycle travelling in the same direction at a safe distance, being: 
 
  • 1 metre on roads where the posted speed limit is 60 kmh or less; 
  • 1.5 metres on roads where the posted speed limit is more than 60kmh.

The penalty for contravening this law is $400 and 4 demerit points.

Legislation for passing safely has always existed in Western Australia, however these amendments to the Road Traffic Code 2000 clarify the minimum distance a driver of a motor vehicle is required to keep between their vehicle and a bicycle.

How is the distance measured?

The 1 metre or 1.5 metre safe passing distance is measured from the furthest point to the left on the driver’s vehicle to the furthest point on the right on the bicycle.

The rider, bicycle trailers, any passengers on the bike or bicycle trailer, baskets and pannier bags are to be considered as part of the bicycle. A flag or stick attached the bike sideways from the bicycle or bicycle trailer is not considered part of the bike.

When cyclists are riding two abreast, the distance is measured from the furthest point on the right of the bicycle on the right-hand side of the pair of riders.

Can I overtake a cyclist on double white lines?

Yes, a driver can cross over double white lines, or a lane dividing line on two and four lanes roads, but only if it is safe to do so, and only if you have a clear view of any approaching traffic.

A driver is also permitted to drive on or over a painted island to overtake a cyclist, but again only if it is safe to do so and the driver has a clear view of oncoming traffic.

Do the minimum passing distance laws apply to cyclists passing vehicles?

No. Legislation already exists within the Part 15 of the Road Traffic Code 2000, outlining the rules for cyclists interacting with vehicles on the roads, including:
 
  • The rider of a bicycle shall not attach himself or herself to, or permit himself or herself to be drawn by, any other vehicle. $100 infringement
  • The driver of a vehicle shall not permit the rider of a bicycle to attach himself or herself to, or be drawn by, the vehicle. $100 infringement.
  • A person shall not ride a bicycle within 2 metres of the rear of a motor vehicle, over a distance of more than 200 metres. $100 infringement.
  • Wherever a bicycle lane is provided as part of a carriageway, and is in a reasonable condition for use, a rider of a bicycle shall use that portion of a carriageway and no other. $50 infringement.
  • The rider of a bicycle shall not unreasonably obstruct or prevent the free passage of a vehicle or pedestrian by moving into the path of the vehicle or a pedestrian.
  • A person shall not leave a bicycle in or upon a road so as to become an obstruction. $50 infringement.
  • The rider of a bicycle shall not ride across a carriageway, or part of a carriageway, on a children’s crossing, marked foot crossing or pedestrian crossing, unless that crossing displays a bicycle crossing lights and those lights are green. $50 infringement.

Do the minimum passing distance laws apply when driving through a roundabout or where there a raised median strip or island that does not allow a minimum passing distance?

Yes. This is also where common sense and etiquette from the driver plays a role.

At a roundabout, treat the cyclist as you would any other vehicle in the roundabout. Don’t crowd the cyclist and give way accordingly.

When a physical barrier such as an island or median strip prevents the driver from leaving a safe passing distance, wait until you have both passed the barrier before overtaking, when it is safe to do so, and you have a clear view of any oncoming traffic.

Information for cyclists

Cyclists:

  • Must wear a secure helmet;
  • Must have at least one brake and a warning device (bell/horn) working;
  • Must use a front white light and rear red light which can be seen for 200m during the night and in conditions of poor visibility.
  • A red rear reflector visible for 50m is also required.
  • Can ride two side-by-side on the road, with up to 1.5m between riders;
  • Can’t ride less than 2m behind a vehicle;
  • Not allowed to pass on left of a vehicle that is turning left;
  • Can’t ride on freeways or in pedestrian malls;
  • Can use the left lane of a roundabout when turning right, but must give way to vehicles exiting a roundabout;
  • Should ensure visibility by wearing reflective or fluorescent clothing.
 
Offence Fine Demerits
Not wearing a helmet $50 NA
Failure to have at least one effective brake and working warning device $100 NA
Failure to have correct lighting $100 NA
Bicycles can ride 2 abreast with up to 1.5m between riders. Failure to do so. $50 NA
Riding less than 2m behind a vehicle $100 NA
Passing on the left of a vehicle that is turning left $100 NA

 

Information for Drivers

Drivers:

  • When overtaking cyclists, it is recommended to do so at a distance of at least one metre;
  • Must give way to cyclists if crossing an on-road bicycle lane;
  • Before opening a car door, should make sure there isn’t a cyclist is in the way;
  • When turning left - if a cyclist is in front, allow them to pass before making a turn;
  • Must not park or stop in an on-road bicycle lane;
  • Must not drive in an on-road bicycle lane for more than 50m;
  • Must not enter the bicycle storage area at intersections.
 
Offence Penalty Demerits
Failing to overtake a bicycle at a safe distance $400 4
Entering a bicycle storage area $200 2

Cycling on Footpaths

All-age cycling on footpaths is now legal in WA. Please see the frequently asked questions below for more information.

On April 27th 2016, WA’s laws changed to allow cyclists of all ages to use footpaths, unless otherwise signed. The amendment to the Road Traffic Code 2000 brought WA’s bicycle laws into line with the rest of Australia, making it legal for parents to ride alongside their children on footpaths, improving safety. Under the previous rules, only children under the age of 12 were able to ride on footpaths without breaking the law.
 

Frequently asked questions by cyclists

What was the law before?

Previously, the law prohibited anyone over 12 from cycling on a footpath, that was not a shared path or a separated footpath. (Regulation 216 (1) of the Road Traffic Code 2000.) Local Governments can still prohibit bicycles from being ridden on certain sections of path eg. past an alfresco dining area.

Will I now be able to ride two or more abreast on the footpath?

No. Cyclists are still not permitted to ride abreast on any paths and need to be in single file.

Does this apply on the roads?

No. On the road two cyclists are allowed to ride side-by-side, as long as the gap between them is no more than 1.5 metres.

Who has right of way on footpaths – pedestrians or cyclists?

Pedestrians.

How many people can ride as a group on the footpath?

There is no legal restriction on the number of people who can ride in single file on any path infrastructure. Slow down at driveways and give way to pedestrians.

Can I ride an electric bike on the footpath?

Yes, as long as the electric bike is compliant with the legislation for such bikes.

Is there a speed limit on footpaths?

There’s no official speed limit for bikes but ride in a manner appropriate to the conditions. While there’s no official speed limit, cyclists should ride safely and in a manner appropriate to the conditions.

Do I still have to wear a helmet on the footpath?

Yes – on any bike on any public property.

Do I have to stop at driveways or do I have right of way?

Drivers need to give way to you, but slow as you approach a driveway, in case they haven’t seen you.

Do I have to ring my bell for those in my way on a footpath?

It’s not law but is advisable if you feel someone doesn’t know you’re approaching. However, be polite and don’t over-work the bell.

Can I overtake gophers?

Yes. Gophers/motorised wheelchairs/scooters are limited to a maximum speed of 10km/h and are considered pedestrians. Consequently, you should ring your bell to warn them of your approach, give way where necessary and overtake safely.

Do other Australian States and Territories allow people of all ages to cycle on footpaths?

The ACT allows cyclists of all ages on footpaths. The NT, Queensland and Tasmania allow cyclists of all ages, unless there is a "no bicycles" sign. SA, NSW and Victoria have their own variations of the law but all three allow persons aged 18 and over to cycle on footpaths, if supervising a child younger than 12.

Will all footpaths be overrun with sports cyclists?

This change just makes the footpath a legal option.  However, it would be disadvantageous – and difficult – for large groups of sports cyclists to enjoy their ride on a footpath, due to the uneven surfaces and the narrow carriageway. So we do not expect to see sporting groups using footpaths. The people who most commonly ride on footpaths are children and novice riders who don’t feel safe on the roads.

The information available on our website provides a simple interpretation of the law and is not intended to constitute legal advice. Full details of traffic offences and penalties are contained in the Road Traffic Code 2000.