Know the road rules

Whether you are riding to work or riding for pleasure you must know and follow the ACT Road Rules

If you are riding regularly, you’ll need to be familiar with the road rules that apply to people cycling on ACT roads and paths.

The ACT regulations include the Australian Road Rules as well as ACT-specific laws, such as those that allow cyclists to ride across crossings and the minimum passing distance law.  Of course, at present, we also need to follow the rules around social isolation.


  1. Helmets, lights, and bells 

The bike rider and any passenger on a bicycle must wear an Australian standards approved bicycle helmet that is securely fastened on the rider’s head.

When riding at night or in low light conditions you must have a flashing or steady red or white light that is clearly visible for at least 200 metres. You must also display a red reflector that is clearly visible for at least 50 meters from the rear of the bicycle and clearly visible.

A bike must have at least one effective brake and a warning device such as a bell.


  1. Cycling on paths

Canberra’s path network is a fantastic resource for people wanting to get around the city on foot and on bike. On our shared paths and footpaths people on bikes must give way to people walking, and must keep to the left unless it is impracticable to do so.

This means that a pedestrian is not obliged to move out of the way of a bike approaching from behind.

Almost all of Canberra’s paths are shared, the exception being separated cycle paths like civic cycle loop, the cycle way in Matilda St Phillip, and the planned Belconnen bike way, where bike riders have right of way.


  1. Cycling on roads

When you are riding on an on-road bike lane you have right of way. You must ride in an on-road bike lane if there is one, unless it’s impractical to do so.

When riding in a group you can ride can ride up to two abreast, as long as the two riders are no more than 1.5 metres apart. Riders can also overtake two people riding next to each other.


  1. Crossings

Rider can ride across pedestrian crossings at speeds of 10 km/h or less. You must approach the crossing at a speed of 10 km/h or less; look for approaching traffic and be prepared to stop. You must give way to pedestrians and keep to the left of an oncoming bicycle or pedestrian.

If you approach an intersection that has bicycle crossing light symbol and traffic lights, you may cycle across the intersection if the bicycle crossing lights are green even if the traffic lights are red or yellow.


  1. Passing laws

Side-swipe collisions between cyclists and drivers account for 14 per cent of all fatal bike crashes in Australia. Since November 2015, the ACT has minimum distance passing laws in place which state that drivers must give at least a metre distance between their vehicle and any cyclist if the driver is travelling at 60km/h or less. The minimum overtaking distance is 1.5 metres where speed limit is over 60 km/hr. To endure a safe passing distance, the driver may cross the median strip if it is safe to do so, including when there are double lines.


  1. Other laws

It’s worth pointing out that while riding a bike you must follow the same laws as other road users, such as stopping at red lights and stop signs, and not using your phone while riding!

While we expect all road users to be alert, aware and complying with the law, don’t take this for granted. Know your rights but don’t make assumptions about the behaviour of other road users. Ride predictably and signal your movements. When on paths, use your bell or your voice to let people know you are coming, and when on the road, make eye contact with drivers where possible.


Always ride carefully and safely and be respectful of other users of paths and roads.

Snedden Hall & Gallop are Pedal Power’s legal partners and principal sponsor of the Cycle Works challenge.

As legal cycling experts, they offer Pedal Power members a free first consultation; a “no win, no fee” arrangement; and up to 50% reduction of “gap fees” where unrecoverable from the at-fault party. To find out more contact 02 6285 8000 or

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