Safety for Road Users

New Cycling Laws - FAQs

Does RAA agree with the new cycling laws?

RAA believes that everyone should have the opportunity to choose cycling as a mode of transport and we encourage the development of safe accessible routes. However we advocate on behalf of motorists to ensure that any measures by government to reduce cars on roads is considerate of motorists needs and provides a true choice for motorists that is fair and equitable.

The need to leave sufficient distance when passing a cyclist is obvious from a road safety perspective, but we felt that legislating this distance should be at least one metre would be too difficult to do and would only lead to further animosity between motorists and cyclists. This is why RAA did not support this particular rule change.

Motorists are now allowed to cross solid single and double white lines and drive over painted islands in order to pass cyclists, but only when it is safe to do so. Queensland introduced similar laws in 2014, and it’s interesting to note that there have been three times as many cyclists fined for failing to keep left, than motorists being fined for passing within the minimum distance.

As for cycling on footpaths, RAA supports this, in principle, with certain exceptions. RAA feels that cyclists using the footpath should be restricted to a 10km/h speed limit, as is currently the case with mobility scooter users.

Prior to the new laws being implemented we notified the State Government that the issues of liability and responsibility needed to be addressed with regards to cycling on footpaths. We have since been disappointed that some of these issues have not been actioned and have contacted the government to highlight our position again. We also let the government know that we were disappointed they chose not to review the penalties for cyclists if they break the road rules, as was the case in Queensland where similar changes to cycling laws were introduced in 2014 and in New South Wales on 1 March 2016.

What are the new cycling laws?

From 25 October 2015 the following changes to South Australian cycling laws were introduced:

  • When passing cyclists on the road, drivers must allow at least 1 metre (when the posted speed limit is 60km/h and under) and at least 1.5m (when the posted speed limit is over 60km/h)
  • People of all ages are now allowed to ride on footpaths. However, they’re still required to keep left, always give way to pedestrians and ring a bell or provide a verbal warning to alert pedestrians of their presence as necessary.
  • Motorists can cross solid single and double white lines and drive over painted islands in order to pass cyclists, when it is safe to do so.

What are the penalties for drivers who don’t leave the minimum passing distance?

Drivers can expect a $287 fine, plus a $60 victim of crime levy and 2 demerit points.

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 passing 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 Australian Road Rule 132). This includes driving to the right of (double) continuous lines
  • Driving on a dividing strip (exempt from ARR 137)
  • Driving on a painted island (exempt from ARR 138)
  • No need to stay within a single lane or line of traffic (exempt from ARR 146)
  • Crossing a continuous line separating lanes (exempt form ARR 147)

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 applies 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 my bicycle?

In South Australia, you can ride your bicycle on either the road or the footpath, unless a sign prohibits you from doing so. 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”, in which case you must use the road instead or dismount from your bicycle and walk.

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.

When using a footpath or a shared path, cyclists need to be mindful of pedestrian with varying abilities such as those with babies, children or those with disabilities. Give pedestrians a wide berth when overtaking and be prepared for any unexpected movements.

What is the rule for motorists backing out of turning into driveways, including entry/exits for shopping centre car parks?

A driver entering a road from private land or a car park 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.

Can I ride across a pedestrian signalised crossing?

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

What are the penalties for cyclists?

Penalties for all cycling offences are $54 fine + $60 victims of crime levy. There are two exemptions, which are for failing to wear a helmet and for holding on to a moving vehicle, where the penalty is a $98 fine + $60 victims of crime levy.

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