Changes to road rules cyclists need to know about mobile phones and using bus lanes
Under new rules, police are now able to issue on-the-spot fines of $476 for bike riders caught using their phones. This change is part of a set of road rule changes and clarifications that have been introduced since 1 July. We outline three of the changes below.
As of July 1, (2017) a range of changes and clarifications to Victoria’s road rules have been implemented in Victoria. The changes are intended to make roads safer for all road users. They include:
- bike riders can be issued $476 on-the-spot fines for using their phones even while stationary, unless the bike is parked out of the way of traffic
- bike riders are now able to ride in bus lanes, unless signed otherwise
- drivers must give way to bike riders at intersections that have bike crossings with bike-lights.
Mobile phone use prohibited while cycling
The law prohibiting using a mobile phone while cycling is nothing new. What is new is the $476 on-the-spot fine, meaning that police now have a dedicated fine specifically for bike riders who break this rule. The fine can be issued to any bike rider caught using a mobile phone even if they are stationary (queuing at a light, or waiting for a car to reverse park), unless their bike is parked (out of the way of traffic). This change brings the law into line with the penalty handed out to motorists caught using mobile phones.
However, you can use a mobile phone to make or receive a phone call, or use its audio and music functions or navigational device and GPS but only if it:
- is secured in a commercially designed holder fixed to the vehicle; or
- can be operated by the driver without touching any part of the phone, and the phone is not resting on any part of the driver's body.
For your safety, it is better not to use your phone at all while riding.
Cycling in bus lanes allowed
Bike riders are now permitted to ride in bus lanes unless there is a sign that says otherwise. If you choose to use the bike lane, it’s important that you follow safety tips such as: give way to buses pulling away from a bus stop, wait behind buses rather than overtaking them when they are stopped (if you get into their blind spot they can’t see you when they start moving), and be aware of traffic entering the bus lane near intersections.
Motorists required to give way at intersections with bike crossing lights
Motorists are now required to give way to bike riders at any intersection that has traffic lights with bike crossing signals. This means that motorists must give way to bike riders as they do pedestrians. This applies when bike riders are crossing at the intersection or approaching the intersection. Be aware this change only applies at intersections where there are active bicycle crossing lights.
Stay tuned because there are more rules being reviewed over the coming year, including: riding in roundabouts, left hand turns and use of footpaths by bike riders. So keep an eye out for any further changes.
For more information on bicycle-specific road rules click here.
We acknowledge the assistance of VicRoads in the preparation of this blog.