Road Rules for Cyclists

Road rules for cyclists

Under NSW law, a bicycle is considered a vehicle and subject to the same road rules as other vehicles. As such, cyclists are required to obey the road rules, including stopping at red lights or Stop signs, Giving Way as indicated by signage and giving hand signals when changing direction.

Just as cyclists have responsibilities when using the road, they also have the right, like other vehicles, to use the road and be shown courtesy and care by other road users.

Please read below some of the few basic rules for cyclists. For more information and updates please visit the website of the NSW Government - RTA (mentioned below).

Please note: While every attempt has been made to ensure the accuracy of the contents of this guide, it should not be relied upon as legal advice. For the full and current legislation, please refer to the Road Rules, Part 15 (Additional rules for bicycle riders) at:

Wearing bicycle helmets (s256)
You, and any passenger you are carrying, must:

  • wear an approved, correctly fitted and fastened bike helmet at all times.

The only time you are exempt from wearing a helmet is if you:

  • are carrying a doctor's certificate stating that you cannot wear a helmet for a stated medical reason over a specified period.

Equipment on a bicycle (s258)
Your bicycle must:

  • have at least one effective brake
  • have a bell in working order.

Riding at night (s 259)
When riding at night, or in weather conditions with reduced visibility, you must display on your bike or yourself:

  • a flashing or steady white light on the front of the bicycle that can be seen for at least 200 m
  • a flashing or steady red light on the rear of the bicycle that can be seen for at least 200 m
  • a red reflector on the rear of the bicycle that can be seen for at least 50 m when a vehicle's headlights shine on it.

Carrying people on a bicycle (s246)
You can only double another person if:

  • the bicycle is designed to carry more than one person and has a passenger seat, and
  • each person wears a helmet.

Roundabouts (s111, s119)
At roundabouts:

  • drivers who want to turn right at two-lane roundabouts are required to enter the roundabout and complete the turn, from the right hand lane
  • cyclists are exempt from this requirement and may enter the roundabout and complete a right hand turn from either the left lane or the right lane 
  • cyclists, if they choose to make a right turn from the left lane, are effectively changing lanes each time they ride past an exit - as such, they must give way to any vehicle that is crossing their path to leave the roundabout.

Cyclists may turn right from the right lane of two

Cyclists may turn right from the right lane of two-lane roundabouts.

Cyclists may also turn right from the left lane

Cyclists may also turn right from the left lane of two-lane roundabouts, but must give way to vehicles that cross their path.

Keeping left and overtaking (s129, s131, s151, s141)
You must:

  • ride as near as is safely possible to the far left side of the road - on a multi-lane road or a road with two or more lines of traffic travelling in the same direction as you, you can occupy a lane and travel in the right hand lane when necessary (for example, to make a right turn) 
  • ride to the left of any oncoming vehicle
  • not overtake another vehicle on the left if that vehicle is turning left and giving a left change of direction signal
  • not ride more than two abreast unless overtaking
  • ride within 1.5 m of the other rider if riding two abreast.

Riding in a bicycle lane on a road (s247)
You should:

  • always use a bike lane where provided, unless it is impracticable to do so
  • never ride in a bike lane on the wrong side of the road (travelling towards oncoming traffic).

Riding in special purpose lanes (s153, s154, s155, s156)
You can:

  • ride in bicycle, tram, bus and transit lanes.

Riding on a separated path (s249)
On a separated path:

  • you can only ride on the side that is designated for cyclists.

Riding across a road on a crossing (s248)
You must:

  • never ride your bike across a pedestrian crossing, children's crossing or marked foot crossing (crossing with lights) unless there is also a bike light at the crossing.
  • dismount from your bike and walk across.

Riding on a footpath or shared path (s250)
You must:

  • keep left and give way to pedestrians on footpaths and shared-use paths.

Riding to the left of oncoming bicycle riders on a path (s251)
You must:

  • always ride your bike to the left of other riders coming towards you on a bike path, footpath, separated path or shared path.

Obeying no bicycle signs and markings (s252)
You cannot:

  • ride on a road or footpath where bicycle signs or road markings specifically ban bikes.

Avoid being a traffic hazard (s253)
You must:

  • avoid becoming a hazard by riding into the path of a driver or pedestrian - this rule applies to all road users.

Stopping for bicycle crossing lights (s260, s261, s262)
At bicycle crossing lights:

  • if the light is red, you must stop before reaching the light.
  • You must only cross at bicycle crossing lights when the light is green.
  • If bicycle crossing lights at an intersection change from green to yellow or red while you are in the intersection, you must cross the intersection by the safest most direct route.

Signalling (s46, s48)

  • Hand signals must be given when turning right.

Optional hook turn by a bicycle rider (s35, s36)
You are able to turn right at an intersection on your bicycle using a hook turn (unless prohibited by a 'NO HOOK TURN BY BICYCLES' sign).

Hook Turn

To do this:

  • Approach and enter the intersection on the far left side of the road you are leaving.
  • Move forward until you are as near the far side of the road you are entering. Keep as near as possible to the far left side of the intersection. Keep clear of any marked foot crossings. Keep clear of any driver turning left from the intersection.
  • If there are traffic lights at the intersection, wait until you are facing a green light before moving forward.
  • If there are no traffic lights on the intersection, give way to approaching drivers on the road you have just left, as required, then move forward.

Riding on or across a continuous white edge line (riding on the road shoulder) (s150)

  • are allowed to cross a continuous white-edge line in order to ride along the road shoulder
  • must give way to vehicles on the roadway when moving back onto the road across the continuous white edge line.

Insecure or overhanging load (s292)
You must:

  • secure any loads to your bike in a way that does not cause the bike to be unstable 
  • make sure the load does not stick out from the bicycle in a way that is likely to injure a person, obstruct the path of other drivers or pedestrians, or damage a vehicle or anything else
  • avoid hanging things off the handlebars.

Under NSW law, children less than 12 years of age and an accompanying adult if supervising a child are allowed to legally ride on the footpath. This law was introduced because, whilst young children quickly develop skills required to ride, steer and stop a bicycle, their development limitations preclude the child's capacity to ride on a road shared with moving vehicles. The child rider's limitations may result in unpredictable and unsafe behaviour, though the child may have mastered a range of physical riding skills.