Centre for Road Safety

Obey the law

Bicycle riders in NSW must obey the road rules. They must stop at red lights or stop signs, give way as indicated by road signs and give hand signals when changing direction. Under the Road Rules on the NSW legislation website, a bicycle is considered a vehicle and has the same road rules as other vehicles. There are also special road rules that only apply to bicycle riders.

Special rules for bicycle riders

  • You may perform hook turns at intersections unless prohibited by sign posting
  • You do not need to give a left or stop signal, or signal when making a hook turn
  • You may ride two abreast but not more than 1.5 metres apart
  • You may overtake two other bicycle riders who are riding side-by-side
  • You may travel in a Bus Lane, Tram Lane, Transit Lane or Truck Lane but not in a Bus Only Lane
  • You may ride to the left of a continuous white edge line
  • You may overtake on the left of stopped and slow moving vehicles.

Bicycle riders have a number of responsibilities when riding on and off the road. These responsibilities include:

  • Bicycle riders must sit astride of the rider's seat facing forward, with at least one hand on the handlebars
  • Bicycle riders must ride a bicycle that has at least one working brake and a fully functioning bell, horn, or similar warning device
  • Bicycle riders must use the storage boxes when provided
  • Bicycle riders must not ride a bicycle at night or in hazardous weather conditions unless the bike displays a flashing or steady white light from the front, and a flashing or steady red light from the rear. The bike also requires a red reflector which is visible from the rear
  • When in the left lane of a multi-lane roundabout and wanting to turn right, bicycle riders must give way to any vehicle leaving the roundabout
  • Bicycle riders must not carry more people on a bike than it is designed for
  • Where there is a marked bicycle lane in their direction, bicycle riders must use the lane - unless it is impracticable to do so
  • Bicycle riders must not ride on a crossing unless there is a green bicycle light
  • Bicycle riders must not be towed by or hold onto another moving vehicle
  • Bicycle riders must wear an approved bicycle helmet securely fitted and fastened on the rider's head
  • Bicycle riders must not carry a passenger who is not wearing a securely fitted and fastened helmet
  • Bicycle riders must keep to the left of any oncoming bicycle rider or pedestrian on a footpath, shared path or separated path.

Helmets

The helmet laws for bicycle riders of all ages in NSW help prevent head injuries and brain damage from falls and crashes. The Road Rules state that a bicycle rider on roads and road-related areas must wear an approved bicycle helmet securely fitted and fastened. This applies to all bicycle riders, including children on bicycles with training wheels and any child being carried as a passenger on a bike or in a bicycle trailer.

Footpaths

Since 23 July 2018, children under 16 years of age are allowed to ride on a footpath (increased from children under 12 years of age). Allowing children under the age of 16 on the footpath will help keep them safe until they have the skills, decision making and knowledge of the rules to ride safely on the road.

An adult rider who is supervising a bicycle rider under 16 may also ride with the young rider on the footpath. Children aged 16 or 17 can ride on the footpath, when accompanied by a child under 16 and a supervising adult.

When riding on a footpath, riders must keep left and give way to pedestrians.

For more information on how to stay safe when riding on the footpath, see our Safe Riding Tips.

Shared paths

Across NSW, shared paths can be used by both pedestrians and bicycle riders of all ages. Bicycle riders must keep left and give way to pedestrians on shared paths.

 

Bicycle lane signs have a picture of a bike with the word LANE underneath.

Bicycle lanes

When a bicycle lane is marked on the road and has bicycle lane signs, bicycle riders must use it unless it is impracticable to do so. Although these lanes are for bicycle riders, cars may use them for not more than 50 metres to enter or leave the road at a driveway or intersection.

Special purpose lanes

Bicycle riders may ride in transit lanes, tram lanes, truck lanes and bus lanes, but not bus only lanes.

Riding side by side

Bicycle riders are allowed to ride two abreast, but not more than 1.5 metres apart.

Roundabouts

Bicycle riders are allowed to turn right from the left-hand lane. When passing each exit, bicycle riders must give way to any vehicle leaving the roundabout.

Riding in traffic

Bicycle riders must use a bicycle lane where one is available. If there is no bicycle lane, ride to the left of the road but avoid grates, debris and parked cars.

When riding in traffic you must stop:

  • At red lights
  • At stop signs
  • At give way signs if there is traffic travelling on the crossroad
  • At a railway crossing when:
    • There is a stop sign
    • The crossing lights are flashing
    • The boom gate is down
    • A railway employee signals traffic to stop
    • A train is coming
  • When entering a roadway, it is advisable especially from driveways.

Hand signals

Hand signals help to tell other road users what you are doing and where you are going. You are required by law to give a hand signal when turning right or merging to the right lane. When signalling, do so about 30 metres before you turn or change lanes or lane position. Giving a hand signal does not guarantee your safety. Assess the actions of other road users around you to make sure it is safe before turning or changing lanes.

Riding on a pedestrian crossing

You can only ride your bicycle across a pedestrian crossing where bicycle crossing lights are installed.

At a red bicycle crossing light, you must stop before the crossing and only proceed if the bicycle crossing light changes to green or is not showing red.

At a green bicycle crossing light, you may proceed through the crossing area exercising caution if there are also pedestrians. In addition to bicycle crossing signals, you must obey any traffic signals or signs, as would other road users.

If there is no bicycle crossing light, you must dismount and walk across the crossing.

Bus lanes

Bicycle riders can use bus lanes, however, you should be cautious of other vehicles using the lane, particularly when approaching intersections as all vehicles can travel in a bus lane if they intend to turn left.

Bus only lanes

Bicycle riders are not permitted to use a lane when the words 'Buses Only' appear on a bus lane sign or lane markings.

'B' lantern

There are traffic lights with 'B' lanterns installed on bus only lanes to provide priority for buses. When you come to a set of traffic lights with a 'B' lantern you are not allowed to go on a green bus traffic signal. Instead, follow the main traffic signals displaying a red, amber or green light.

Speed

You should always adjust your speed to your environment. For example, when sharing a path, you should try to ride at a speed that doesn't endanger yourself or those around you by travelling in excess of what is appropriate to the path environment, your experience and skill level. There are some shared paths with enforceable speed limits.

School zones and school buses

School zones are signposted and operate outside schools in the morning (8am through to 9.30am) and in the afternoon (2.30pm through to 4pm) during school term time. There are also a small number of school zones that have different operating hours to suit the individual school.

As a road user, you are required to give way to children crossing the road at a pedestrian crossing. You should also follow the direction of a pedestrian crossing supervisor using the handheld stop/slow sign. Be wary of car doors opening and other potential hazards like children running across the road.

Buses can pose a hazard to bicycle riders. Buses may pull out at any time in front of you so allow yourself plenty of clearance and move quickly.

You must give way to a bus that is attempting to merge into traffic in accordance with the law.