5 things cyclists want car drivers to know

1. Bicycles are vehicles too

As a motorist, you may think that cyclists are too small or too slow to worry about. But, bicycles are legally recognised as a vehicle on the road, meaning cyclists enjoy the same rights to use public roads as other road users.

Bicycle riders also bear the same responsibilities that come with using a public road and must obey all general road rules in addition to some road rules that apply solely to them. And yes, if they break these rules, they pay fines for breaking the rules too.

Yet despite their vehicle status cyclists will always remain a vulnerable road user group. A bicycle is not surrounded by metal, and it doesn’t have a seat belt or airbags. Please apply the road rules when you see cyclists, particularly giving way at intersections and following at a safe distance behind them.

2. Don’t get too close

Cyclists need space! Getting too close to someone on a bike can quickly turn into a nasty accident, with the rider often coming off second best. Each state varies in the minimum passing distance motorists must give when passing a cyclist.

For example in Queensland, New South Wales, Tasmania and South Australia the law requires motorists to give a cyclist at least 1m distance when overtaking them at a speed under 60km/hr.  The rest of Australia is either trialling the 'metre rule' or provides guidelines around giving cyclists more space, but a general rule thumb is to travel within a safe distance from bicycles so as not to cause an accident. 

Before venturing out on the road next time, be sure to check out your State’s road rules regarding minimum passing distances. For more information, visit:

3. Don’t get 'two' upset

Now we know this is a sore point, but two cyclists are allowed to ride next to each other on Australia’s public roads. However, if cyclists do this, they must ensure they’re not further than 1.5m apart.

If you want to overtake a pair of cyclists, you’ll have to ensure you are keeping the minimum safe distance from the rider on the right.

4. Turn left with care

If you’re travelling behind a cyclist and intending to turn left at an approaching intersection, don’t attempt to quickly overtake before you make the turn. Such a manoeuvre can cause the cyclist to be 'cut off' and is a major cause of accidents. Please be patient, wait for the intersection, and turn left behind the rider.

If you’re intending to turn left but see no cyclist ahead, you must still be careful – there could be a cyclist behind the vehicle. Cyclists’ position on the left hand side of the road sometimes means they’re in a driver’s blind spot. So before turning left, make sure you take the time to check your blind spots.

5. Overtake with care

If you ever feel like you’re stuck behind a cyclist, there’s no need to be frustrated or act like you’ve been trapped. In Queensland, South Australia, New South Wales, Tasmania, and the ACT, road rules state that provided there’s no oncoming traffic or other safety concerns, motorists can cross the centre lines on a public road in order to overtake a cyclist.

Drivers are even allowed to cross double unbroken centre lines or drive across a painted island if it’s safe to do so.  For Victorian and Northern Territory drivers, these exceptions do not apply and the same road rules apply to overtaking cyclists as they do to other vehicles.

Even if you’re not crossing the lines, when overtaking a cyclist it’s always important you indicate in any circumstance where you’re changing the direction of the vehicle on the road. You must make an initial indication to the right which should be long enough to notify other vehicles you’re going to turn. Once you’ve overtaken the cyclist, you must then indicate left to show that you’re returning to your original position on the road.

TOPIC: Road rights
RELATED LEGAL SERVICES: Road accident injuries

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Connor O'Driscoll

Maurice Blackburn Rockhampton
Connor O’Driscoll is an Associate in Maurice Blackburn’s Rockhampton office, with more than five years’ experience providing expert personal injury legal advice to people in the local area. In particular, he helps people with workers' compensation, road accident injury and public liability claims. Connor is a local to Central Queensland – he was educated at Cathedral College in Rockhampton before heading to Brisbane to complete his Bachelor of Laws at the University of Queensland. Connor completed his Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice at the Australian National University and was admitted in practice in the High Court of Australia in 2012. Connor has strong links to the legal community in the region and began his legal career in 2011 as an Associate to Justice McMeekin in the Supreme Court of Rockhampton. This was where his interest in personal injury law began, as he witnessed many civil trials and could see the impact that injury had on the lives of local people and their families. After his Supreme Court experience, Connor spent several years with another local law firm and then joined Maurice Blackburn in November 2016. Connor keeps updated with legislative changes that impact his area of practice and is always researching amendments and developments to laws, in particular, the effects of sweeping changes to the Workers Compensation and Rehabilitation Act. “What I find most rewarding about this area of law is that I can apply knowledge and successfully hold my ground during negotiations with insurers and achieve results for clients that allow them to progress to their next stage in life with confidence,” says Connor. He has a down-to-earth and approachable way with clients, putting them at ease so they understand each step of the legal process. “It gives me much satisfaction to run into former clients around town and hear how their life has improved after their claim has concluded. That’s when I get to see the way people can turn their lives around when they get the right legal help.” Connor volunteers at the Rockhampton Community Legal Centre and is a regular blood (plasma) donor. When Connor isn’t working or volunteering, he likes to spend time outdoors, listening to podcasts and travelling. Memberships Queensland Law Society member Central Queensland Law Association member ...

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