Relations between cyclists and motorists on Canberra roads can be some of the most vexed. Frustrations emerge as both sides accuse each other of hogging the road or not paying attention to the people they are sharing the road with.
Different interpretations of the road rules spring up as cyclists and drivers seek to justify their behaviour, which they see as well within their rights.
But there are hard and fast rules for cyclists and drivers can, and can't, do on the roads.
We've compiled what's what on the roads for cyclists in the ACT.
As noted in the ACT road rules handbook: "Motorists must take care and show consideration when sharing the roads with cyclists, who have the same legal rights and obligations as other road users."
In the ACT, bicycles ridden during the day are required to have at least one effective brake and a warning device, such as a bell or a horn.
At night, cyclists need to have a either a flashing or steady white light visible for at least 200 metres from the front of the bike and a flashing or steady red light clearly visible for 200 metres from the back of the bike. The bike must also be fitted with a red rear reflector, visible for 50 metres when a low-beam headlight hits it.
Cyclists must always wear a securely fitted and fastened helmet that meets Australian standard AS2063:1996 or be certified to Snell Standard 1995.
NOT JUST SINGLE FILE?
Yes, cyclists are allowed to ride two abreast, but three or more cyclists riding next to each other is not allowed.
A third cyclist is allowed to overtake two other cyclists riding two abreast.
The ACT road rules handbook advises that "common sense" should guide cyclists' decisions on whether to ride next to each other, as it may not be safe on some roads.
The rules note it is courtesy for cyclists to move into single file to allow cars to overtake. Motorists should slow down on approach and wait until it is safe to pass.
BIKE LANES AND CYCLE PATHS
Canberra's network of off-road cycle paths set the standard for the world in the days of the city's National Capital Development Commission, but cyclists are not required to ride on them. Cyclists can ride on roads instead, but must use an on-road bike lane unless it is "impracticable". When riding in these lanes, cyclists have right of way - motorists need to give way to any cyclists in the lane.
The ACT Road Rules handbook advises cyclists to be "vigilant" when riding in on-road cycle lanes. "The fact that the bicycle lane gives a cyclist 'right of way' does not necessarily mean that it will be granted," the book says.
Cyclists on footpaths or shared paths must keep to the left unless it is impractical and give way to pedestrians.
On shared paths, bicycles do not have the sole right to use the paths. Cyclists approaching pedestrians from behind need to ring their bell, slow down as they pass and give the pedestrians right of way.
Since November 1, 2015, cyclists have been allowed to ride slowly over pedestrian crossings, signalised marked foot crossings and children's crossings at no more than 10km/h. Humans on average walk about 5km/h across road crossings.
Cyclists must slow down before reaching the crossing and check for approaching vehicles, and while on the crossing, cyclists must keep to the left and give way to pedestrians.
Cyclists can be fined for not slowing down on the approach to a crossing, failing to check for approaching traffic or speeding across the crossing.
THINGS TO REMEMBER
- Cyclists must not overtake "to the left of a vehicle that is turning left and is giving a left change of direction signal".
- Cyclists must not be the cause of a traffic hazard by moving into the paths of drivers or pedestrians.
- Drivers must provide 1 metre of lateral distance when overtaking cyclists on low speed roads, where the limit is at or below 60km/h. They must provide 1.5 metres on roads where the speed zone exceeds 60km/h.