Sharing Yarra's roads and paths
How do you get around Yarra?
Chances are you use a car for some trips, ride a bike for others, catch public transport in some cases, or walk if it’s close enough.
Council produced the Sharing Yarra’s roads and paths brochure in November 2012 to provide information to pedestrians, motorists and cyclists about sharing local roads and paths. It includes answers to a number of frequently asked questions and tips for sharing roads and paths in a safe and respectful manner.
A copy of the brochure can be downloaded by clicking on the link below:
Sharing Yarra's roads and paths (1.13 MB)
If you would like a copy of the brochure sent to you, please contact Council’s Sustainable Transport Team on 9205 5734.
Text from the brochure appears below. You can also refer to Victoria Law Foundation’s Bike Law website.
FAQs and tips
On the road
Is a bicycle a legal road vehicle?
Yes, bicycles are classified as vehicles under the Victorian road rules. This means that you have the same rights and responsibilities when you’re on a bike as when you are driving a car.
Are the road rules the same when you’re on a bike or driving a car?
Yes, except for a few differences and exceptions. Most of these are covered below, but for more details, visit www.vicroads.vic.gov.au
What is a bicycle lane?
A bicycle lane is a marked on-road lane designated for bike riders. It is signed as a bicycle lane at the start of the lane and ends either where an ‘end bicycle lane’ sign appears, or at an intersection.
Why do we have bicycle lanes?
To improve safety for bike riders by defining road space.
Top tip - Give space
Be patient and give bike riders a clearance of at least one metre when passing them on local roads. Provide more space when travelling on main roads with a speed limit of 60km/h or more.
Is it OK to drive my car in a bicycle lane?
Only for 50 metres or less and only in the following circumstances:
• When passing a vehicle turning right
• When entering or leaving a side street, another traffic lane or parking space
• When stopping or parking is allowed in the bike lane
Usual lane-merging road rules apply, which means you need to give way to any bicycles using the lane.
Am I required to ride within a bicycle lane if it is provided?
Yes, unless is it impracticable to do so.
Who is at fault when a car door is opened into the path of someone on a bike?
The car driver or passenger who opens the door is at fault and can be fined. ‘Car dooring’ can cause serious and potentially life-threatening injuries to cyclists.
Top tip - Head check
Drivers and car passengers should always look carefully before opening a car door. Looking in the mirror is a start, but it’s also important to turn your head and look over your shoulder. One way to do this without thinking is to get into the habitof leading with your left hand as you open the driver’s door (and leading with your right hand when opening doors on the other side of the car).
Top tip - Ride outside the door zone
If all cars parked with their doors open, where would you place yourself on the road to be safe? That is where you should aim to be all the time - far enough out so that your handlebar would not clip an open car door. Don’t be afraid to ride towards the right side of the bike lane.
Why are some sections of bike lane painted green?
To encourage cyclists and motorists to take extra care at these locations.
Is it OK to occupy a whole traffic lane when I’m riding my bike?
Yes, this may be necessary in narrow traffic lanes where there is not enough space for another vehicle to overtake a bicycle safely within the lane. Some narrow streets in Yarra have bike logos marked on the road to encourage riders to use the whole lane.
Is it legal to ride two abreast?
Yes, but you must not ride more than 1.5 metres apart.
What are the rules about waiting for stopped trams?
When the tram doors on your side of the road are open and there is no safety zone, you must wait at the rear of the tram until the doors close and the road is free of crossing pedestrians. This rule is the same whether you are on a bike or in a car.
Focus on intersections
Are all road users required to stop at red lights?
Yes, this road rule applies whether you’re driving a car or riding a bike. There are no exceptions.
Do I need to signal all turns when I’m riding my bike?
You are required to give a hand signal when turning right or moving to the right. Hand signals are not required when turning to the left or stopping, but you may choose to signal at these times to let other traffic know what you’re doing.
Why do some signalised intersections have special waiting boxes for bikes?
These line markings are designed to increase the visibility and safety of bike riders by placing them at the front of a traffic queue. Drivers of motor vehicles may be fined for allowing any part of their vehicle to enter the designated bike area whilst waiting at the lights.
What are the rules for motorists who need to turn left across a bicycle lane?
A bicycle lane is classified as a ‘marked lane’ in the road rules. Motorists need to give way to bike riders in bicycle lanes if they are turning across the lane.
How should I ride around a single-lane roundabout?
When using a single-lane roundabout, ride in the middle of the lane. This is so you are more visible to other road users and less
likely to be cut off when other road users exit the roundabout. Make sure you signal your intentions and where possible, make eye contact to make sure other people have seen you.
Top tip – Take a hook turn
If a normal right-hand turn leaves you feeling exposed in an intersection, try a hook turn. Bike riders are entitled to use a hook turn at any intersection unless signage specifically prohibits it.
Ready to ride?
What are the requirements for cycling at night?
If you’re riding at night or in other low-light conditions you must have a white light on the front of your bike and a red light on the rear. These lights may be flashing or static and must be visible from at least 200 metres. Your bike should also have a red rear reflector visible from 50 metres.
Is it necessary to wear high-visibility clothing for night time riding?
This is not a legal requirement, but it is advisable to make yourself more visible on the road. Research has shown that it is particularly effective to wear reflective gear on moving parts of your body (such as your ankles).
Do I need to wear a helmet when I’m riding a bike?
Whether you’re on a road or path, you are required to wear a bicycle helmet that is fastened properly and meets Australian Safety Standards.
Am I required to have a bell fitted to my bike?
Yes, it is mandatory to have a bell, horn or similar warning device in working order.
Being mindful on shared paths
Using shared paths is more about courtesy and common sense than rules. Here are some tips to keep in mind when you’re riding or walking along Yarra’s 35km of shared paths.
- Pass other riders and walkers on the right and provide plenty of warning. It’s a good idea to ring your bell about 30 metres before passing. You can also use your voice to provide a friendly warning – for example, “passing on your right”
- Travel at a safe speed so that you can stop quickly if necessary. Take particular care when passing in case your warning bell or call was not heard
- Keep an eye out for all pedestrians, especially children and dogs as their movements can be unpredictable
- Encourage children to keep to the left and join you in warning other path-users of your approach.
- Keep to the left of the path and walk in a predictable manner
- Keep your dog on a lead when walking along Yarra’s shared trails
- Help children to keep to the left, explaining that bike riders can come from both directions.
Know the path rules
You might be surprised to learn that use of shared paths and footpaths is covered in the Victorian road rules. Some of the key rules appear below:
What is a shared path?
A shared path is designed to be used by both pedestrians and bike riders. Signage indicates that the path is a shared path.
Up to what age can children legally ride on the footpath?
Children under 12 years are allowed to ride on the footpath. Adults who accompany children can also legally ride on the footpath.
Who has right of way on shared paths and footpaths?
If you are riding a bike on a shared path or footpath you are required to give way to all pedestrians.
Do I need to keep to the left when riding on a shared path or footpath?
Yes, it is a legal requirement that you ride on the left unless it is impracticable to do so.
For more information, please contact Council’s Sustainable Transport Team:
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T | 9205 5734
E | Heidi.Marfurt@yarracity.vic.gov.au
E | Kate.Simnett@yarracity.vic.gov.au
To plan your journey by public transport, on foot or by bike, pick up a copy of the City of Yarra TravelSmart map.
Ask for a free map at your local library or at the Richmond Town Hall (333 Bridge Road) or order a copy by contacting Council on 9205 5555 or at firstname.lastname@example.org