New Rules for safer cycling start this month

Today I announced that new laws to better share the road and reduce the number of accidents between cyclists and motorists will come into effect on October 25.
An integral part of these changes, include the new 'One Metre Rule'.
Motorists will be required to keep at least 1 metre from a cyclist when the speed limit is 60km/h or under, and at least 1.5 metres when the speed limit is over 60km/h.
The penalty for motorists breaking the ‘One Metre Rule’ is an expiation fee of $287 plus $60 victims of Crime Levy, and two demerit points.
In addition, cycling will also be permitted on footpaths for all cyclists. However cyclists will still be required to ride in a bike lane where one is provided.

You can read my full press release here.

Q and A

Why do we need minimum passing distance laws?

People riding have less protection than motorists and are more likely to be injured if a crash happens, so they need adequate space to be comfortable and safe when being passed by motor vehicles.

The Citizens’ Jury noted that this law change and an accompanying promotional campaign will provide the following benefits:

  • Fewer crashes involving motorists and cyclists.

  • Increased feeling of safety for all road users.

  • Further participation in cycling throughout the community.

  • Change in motoring culture to be more aware of cyclists.

  • Modifying the behaviour of all road users and promote safety and road sharing.

What consultation occurred prior to the change to these two new rules?

DPTI undertook consultation on the legislative detail for the two proposals. The consultation process, which ran from 4 – 20 March 2015, generated 1 584 submissions from the general public and stakeholder organisations. Not all respondents commented on both proposals.

Cycling on footpaths: 71% of respondents supported and 27% did not support allowing all-age cycling on footpaths.

Minimum overtaking distance: 73% of respondents supported and 18% of respondents did not support the proposal to define a minimum overtaking space between a vehicle and a cyclist which included the ability for motorists to cross dividing lines, straddle lane lines, etc.

Will the minimum passing distance apply to all motor vehicles?

Yes, the rule applies to all types of motor vehicles, including cars, motorbikes, trucks and buses when passing a cyclist.

What if a driver can’t give the minimum distance?

Drivers will need to check their surroundings to ensure it is safe before indicating and passing the cyclist leaving at least the minimum distance. If it is not safe they will need to slow down, be patient and wait until it is safe to pass.

Will a driver be able to cross centre lines to pass a bicycle?

Yes, if a driver has a clear view of any approaching traffic and can do so safely they will be exempted from the following road rules:

  • driving to the right of the road (exemption from ARR 132) – this includes driving to the right of (double) continuous lines

  • driving on a dividing strip (exemption from ARR 137)

  • driving on a painted island (exemption from ARR 138)

  • no need to stay within a single lane or line of traffic (exemption from ARR 146)

  • crossing a continuous line separating lanes (exemption from ARR 147)

What laws will remain the same?

  • ARR 129 – cyclists are required to ride as near as practicable to the far left side of the road

  • AAR 144 – cyclists are obliged to pass a vehicle a t a sufficient distance (not 1m/1.5m)

  • ARR 247 – cyclists are required to ride in a bike lane where one is provided

  • ARR 250 – cyclists must keep to the left of the footpath or shared path unless impracticable to do so

  • ARR 250 – cyclists must give way to any pedestrians on footpath or shared path

  • ARR 251 – cyclists must keep let of another oncoming cyclist on a footpath

  • ARR 252 – cyclists must not ride where a ‘no bicycles’ sign has been erected

  • ARR 253 – cyclists must not cause a traffic hazard by moving into the path of a driver or pedestrian

  • ARR 258 - Bicycles must be fitted with a working bell, horn, or similar warning device

  • Section 99A Road Traffic Act 1961 - cyclists are required to warn pedestrians with their warning device if it is necessary to avert danger

Will a cyclist need to give a metre when passing a vehicle?

Cyclists are expected to keep a safe distance when passing other traffic. However, the minimum passing distance will apply to drivers of motor vehicles, not cyclists. This is because of the greater risk faced by cyclists when motorists pass them too closely. Cyclists do not pose the same risk to motorists.

What if a cyclist pulls up beside a vehicle within the minimum passing distance?

If a vehicle is stopped, for example at traffic lights or in a line of traffic, and a cyclist stops beside it within the minimum passing distance, the driver will not be committing an offence.

When the traffic starts moving the cyclist is likely to ride ahead, and the driver can only pass when they can safely leave the minimum passing distance.

Where can I ride by bicycle?

In South Australia from 25 October you may ride on either the road or the footpath.

When riding in a pedestrian area (the footpath, or shared path), you are required to keep left and give way to pedestrians. Some footpaths may be signed "no bikes" on a sign pole or path marking, in which case you must use the road instead.

Is it safe for people to ride on footpaths?

People are more likely to ride on the footpath where the road is considered unsafe or inconvenient (eg, one-way streets) rather than for the entire trip.

Experience elsewhere suggests that riding on the footpath does not increase crash risk and that cyclists are more careful of pedestrians and travel more slowly on footpaths than on shared paths.

How do I ride near pedestrians on a footpath?

People riding on paths are required to give warning by using their bell or horn or other means, if necessary, to avert danger. This could be just a friendly “hello” to make sure the walker is aware that you are nearby. Remember if you’re riding you are required to give way to any pedestrians. In conditions of low light cyclists are required to display a white light to the front and a red light and reflector to the rear, so you can be seen by other road and path users.

Will footpaths be marked with lanes separating bicycles from pedestrians?

No, because pedestrians would be restricted to using half the footpath and commit an offence under rule 239 if they strayed into the part designated for the use of bicycles.

What is the rule for motorists backing out or turning into driveways?

A driver entering a road from private land or a car park etc must give way to anyone using the footpath – pedestrians and cyclists. A driver must also give way to footpath users when turning into private land.

Which paths are you not allowed to ride?

You are not allowed to ride your bike on a path signed ‘no bicycles’. The sign could be marked on the pavement or on a sign post.

What was the old footpath law and how does it differ from the new?

Previously, only people aged 18+ riding with a child under 12yo were allowed to ride on the footpath, or if the person held a medical exemption which permitted them to ride on the footpath. From October 25th, everyone can ride on the footpath.

Can I ride across pedestrian signalised crossing?

No, you must dismount when crossing, unless a bicycle lantern is displayed.

What are the penalties for drivers not leaving the minimum passing distance?

Penalties for drivers are $287 fine + $60 victims of crime levy, and 2 demerit points for breach of ARR 144 (the current offence of not leaving sufficient room when overtaking).

What are the penalties for cyclists?

Penalties for all cycling offences are $54 fine + $60 victims of crime levy. Exceptions are 1) failure to wear a helmet and 2) for holding on to a moving vehicle, which are $98 fine + $60 victims of crime levy.

How are people riding a bicycle identified and penalised by police when they commit an offence?

There are a number of offences to police the behaviour of bike riders using footpaths. They must keep to the left and to give way to any pedestrian on the footpath (ARR 250). Bicycles must be fitted with a working bell, horn, or similar warning device (ARR 258). Bike riders are required to use these to warn pedestrians if it is necessary to avert danger (Road Traffic Act 1961 section 99A).

For cycling offences, anyone 16 years or older can be issued with a traffic infringement notice. If the person is under 16 a formal or informal caution may be issued under the Young Offenders Act 1993, and escalated to the Youth Court if necessary.

How do people riding a bicycle collect demerit points?

South Australia is the only Australian jurisdiction where cyclists can incur demerit points the same as motor vehicle drivers.

Why are the fines lower for cyclists than motorists?

Given the demerit point system in place and the capacity for a cyclist to cause less harm than a motor vehicle, the fines are lower for cyclists committing a traffic offence to the same level as applies to motorists.

Why don’t cyclists ‘pay rego’?

Revenue for roads is collected through a range of fees, taxes and charges. Approximately 87% of adults that cycle also own cars and therefore pay registration fees. Even people that do not own a car contribute to roads by other means, for example income tax.

Registration fees are collected on the basis of the wear and tear caused by the type of vehicle on the road network. As the impact of bicycles on the road network is very low, a registration charge for bicycles is unnecessary.

Why aren’t cyclists licensed?

Licensing for bicycle riders does not occur elsewhere in Australia and it is not common practice in other countries. The administration costs of introducing and operating a registration and licensing scheme for cyclists would far outweigh the benefits.

Why are cyclists allowed to ride two abreast?

Allowing cyclists to ride no more than two abreast has been permitted in Australia for many years. Riding two abreast makes cyclists easier to see and provides greater safety when sharing road space. Drivers approaching from behind are required to consciously change lanes to overtake cyclists riding two abreast rather than try to squeeze past within the same lane, getting very close or even possibly sideswiping them.

Why are cyclists allowed on narrow rural roads, such as those in the Adelaide Hills?

The mere presence of cyclists on any road, including cyclists riding two abreast, in itself does not constitute a hazard in a similar way to other legitimate slower moving vehicles, for example a car with a caravan or a tractor travelling between worksites. There is no doubt that considerable concentration and patience from drivers is required on rural roads, such as those in the Adelaide Hills, when they need to legally overtake cyclists; including leavingplenty of room between their vehicle and the cyclist

How do these rules compare to other Australian States?

All-age cycling on footpaths is currently allowed in Queensland, Tasmania, the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory. The minimum overtaking distance is required in Queensland, and it is being considered for introduction in the ACT, Victoria and Western Australia. There is no evidence of increased road safety risk from these other jurisdictions.

Further information

Visit the website to find out more about amendments to road rules

View the Cycling and the Law handbook