Road Safety Information
Road Safety Information
Road Rules – common to both the ACT and NSW
Below are some of the key road rules which apply to riding in both the ACT and NSW:
- Cyclists must obey all road rules, including stopping at red lights and stop signs and giving way to oncoming traffic from the right.
- Australian law requires that any person on a bike must wear an Australian approved helmet at all times, whether riding on roads, off roads, on trails, or on shared paths and footpaths. You’ll find an Australian Standard sticker attached to the inside of your helmet. The helmet must be properly fitted and securely fastened. All bikes must have at least one effective brake and a warning device such as a bell or horn in working order.
- If riding in the dark or in poor light conditions, a bike must have a front white light and red rear light, both visible for at least 200m.
- All bikes must also have a red rear reflector visible for 50m.
- When riding on a road:
- Cyclists must ride in a bike lane where such provision exists, unless it is impracticable to do so;
- Cyclists may ride two abreast. When riding two abreast, riders must not be more than 1.5 metres apart. Cyclists may only be three abreast where the third cyclist is overtaking.
- Cyclists must give way to pedestrians.
- Minimum passing distances require that any vehicles must give at least 1m when overtaking a cyclist/s in speed zones of 60kph or less, and 1.5m in speed zones above 60kph.
Both the ACT and NSW have programs in place to encourage a culture and attitude for all road users to share the road. All road users should show common sense, courtesy, respect and consideration for others. As a cyclist, you should ensure that your movements are as predictable as possible for other road users, and be aware of other road users around you. When approaching intersections, make eye contact with other road users so you know they’ve seen you.
Road Rules ACT
In addition to the rules above, affecting riding in both the ACT and NSW, the following rules apply in the ACT:
- Cyclists of any age may ride on footpaths and shared paths. When doing so, cyclists must keep to the left and give way to pedestrians.
- Cyclists may ride across pedestrian crossings without needing to dismount, at a speed of 10kph or less.
Further information about road rules for cyclists in the ACT is available at: https://www.transport.act.gov.au/getting-around/active-travel/active-travel-for-the-community/cycling/road-rules
Road Rules NSW
In addition to the rules above, affecting riding in both the ACT and NSW, the following rules apply in NSW:
- Children under 12 years of age may ride a bike on the footpath, and an adult when accompanying them. All other adult cyclists are not allowed to ride on the footpath.
- Cyclists must not ride across a road crossing.
The Australian, ACT and NSW Road Rules can be found at:
The ACT Parks and Conservation has also developed some tips and advice on mountain-biking in the ACTs nature reserves and National Parks: https://www.environment.act.gov.au/parks-conservation/parks-and-reserves/recreational_activities/mountain-bike-riding
While it’s unlikely that you will have an incident whilst cycling, many local cycling groups offer specific cyclists insurance, which you might wish to consider taking out. Some suggestions include:
Words of caution
As with any destination, some cycling routes and trails will provide a more pleasant experience than others. We also recognize that different cyclists have different levels of tolerance for different road conditions – surface quality, level of vehicular traffic and other.
While we aim to provide information throughout this Guide that will offer a range of different cyclists the best possible experiences for cycling in Canberra and the region, it remains the responsibility of each individual to determine the rides that are most suitable for you and any accompanying cyclists.
Many local roads, such as the popular Cotter-Uriarra loop, while popular with local and visitor cyclists, particularly on weekend mornings, are also popular with local drivers and often have narrow – if any – shoulders.
The Tuggeranong Parkway near the National Arboretum has poor shoulders, narrowing over a relatively lengthy bridge crossing and is heavily trafficked. We recommend choosing to take the off-road Canberra Cycleway path to ride through this area, including to access the National Arboretum and Yarramundi Reach.
Other routes, such as the Federal Highway to Lake George, while seemingly a poor choice due to heavy traffic, are quite popular with local cyclists due to wide shoulders and a relatively good quality, smooth surface. Despite this, some local cyclists choose to take the Old Federal Highway, by turning off the Federal Highway at the Tulip Farm, Sutton and following the much quieter Old Federal Highway in parallel to the Federal Highway before it rejoins the Federal Highway at Lake George.
If planning a road ride of a few hours, we recommend going early in the morning when the roads are quieter.
Some areas of Namadgi National Park are off-limits to cyclists, either as designated walking tracks only, or as water catchment areas. Bike riders are not permitted in the Bimberi Wilderness Area. Full details are available at https://www.environment.act.gov.au/parks-conservation/parks-and-reserves/recreational_activities/mountain-bike-riding
If cycling in Canberra in the winter, please be mindful of black ice, particularly on southern slopes of surrounding hills and in shaded areas.
In springtime swooping magpies can unnerve some cyclists. If concerned, please visit the Magpie Alert page for up to date information on swooping sites: https://www.magpiealert.com/
We recommend that you always tell someone where you’re riding, especially if venturing further afield.
What to take on your cycling adventure
The items you might wish to take on your cycling adventure will vary considerably, depending on the type of riding you’re likely to do.
Local Canberra-based bicycle tourism company, CycleLifeHQ, has developed a handy ‘101 Guide’ to being a bicycle tourist, with useful suggestions across all types of riding.
At a base minimum you will need:
- A bike – again, the type of bike you choose will be dependent on the type of riding you wish to do
- Water bottle
- Money and/or a credit card; just in case
- Sun screen
Beyond this, you might consider taking any or all of the following:
- Warm clothing
- Rain jacket
- Food (which may also be purchased at any number of bicycle friendly businesses across Canberra and the region)
- Bike lock
- Lights – front and rear
- Spare tube/tyre
- Bike pump
- Basic repair kit
- Basic first aid kit
Image credits to: Damian Breach for VisitCanberra, VisitCanberra, Delly Carr, Nick Payne Canberra Cycling Club, (C) aurora images, and jinkyart.com.au