18 January, 2015

New Year and Some New Rules

Road Rules
Everybody in Queensland knows the road rules- particularly as they relate to cyclists- just ask some of them; they’ll certainly let you know what cyclists can and can’t do (some will be correct but the majority will not even be in the same post code). I’m not going to cover every single road rule and exception, just the most contentious and often talked about ones.
So where do we start- how about with the littlies? Learning to ride a bike as a kid is a pretty memorable occasion- it gives kids a sense of freedom. Many kids learn to ride on the footpath which is completely legal. The thing here is that Queensland differs from some of the other states in that there is no age restriction for riding on the footpath. So unless there’s a sign indicating that cycling is not allowed on a section of footpath, it’s completely legal for one and all. Oh and cyclists must give way to pedestrians on footpaths, shared paths and pedestrian crossings.
As of 1 January 2015, cyclists are permitted to ride across marked pedestrian crossings where previously they were required to dismount and walk their bike across.
And cyclists should sound their bell, or at least call out to pedestrians or slower riders when overtaking if they’re going to ride on the footpath.
Helmets- they are required to be worn regardless of the cyclist’s age. There are some exceptions to the wearing of a helmet on the grounds of religious headgear.  But much like drivers and seatbelts, some choose to ride without one. I wear one every time I ride- every time.
Where and how can cyclists ride?
So- on a road that is not multi-lane, cyclists should keep as far left as practicable. In the eyes of motorists that often means as far to the left of the fog line as possible, but there are often hazards at the road edge. Broken bitumen, glass, rubbish, drains, roadkill, branches, wet leaves, parked cars which may present an open door as the operator exits- these are just some of the things which present as hazards and may not be noticeable to vehicle operators.
On multi-lane roads, the cyclists are permitted to take any part of the lane.
There is a common misunderstanding that cyclists must ride in single file. Cyclists are permitted to ride two abreast- no more than 1.5 metres apart. There is an exception where a group of cyclists riding two abreast is permitted to overtake another group riding two abreast. The riders will in fact be four abreast but the faster group must be overtaking and not riding as part of the group being overtaken.
A group of 20 cyclists riding two abreast presents a much shorter overtaking distance than 20 cyclists in a single file.
Cyclists are to ride in the same direction as traffic- that means no ‘salmoning’ (i.e. swimming upstream against the flow).
It is not mandatory for cyclists to ride in a bike lane where one is present, as per the Department of Transport rules, the choice is there for the cyclist to make. In many instances, the presence of parked cars puts the cycle lane in the ‘door-zone’ exposing cyclists to serious injury as drivers exit their vehicles.
Red lights- yes, cyclists are supposed to stop at red lights and stop signs just like motorists. But as we all know, there are always going to be people who run red lights and blow through stop signs.
This inevitably leads to calls for bikes to be registered. It isn’t going to happen any time soon. Even if I want to register my bike, I can’t. It will cost more to administer the program than it will provide in revenue. Cost is based on wear and tear on the road so really a bike rego would be about $0.70. I would gladly pay a rego if it meant I would get full use of the road and complete respect from fellow road users. And just because a vehicle is registered doesn’t stop red light runners- I see several dozen a week.
Safe overtaking rules- Queensland is currently trialling safe overtaking distances as a response to the inquiry into cycling safety.
Where the speed limit is 60 km/hr or less, drivers must maintain a safe overtaking distance of no less than 1 (one) metre. Where the speed limit is more than 60 km/hr, drivers must maintain a safe overtaking distance of not less than 1.5 metres. The distance is measured from the rightmost point of the cyclist (this could be the right handlebar or the shoulder/elbow of the cyclist- whichever protrudes furthest to the right) and the leftmost point of the vehicle (this could be a mirror or part of a load in a trailer). It is understood the vehicle and cyclist are travelling in the same direction.
The minimum distance applies even if the cyclist is riding around an obstacle.
From Transport and Main Roads:
To pass a cyclist—as long as it is safe to do so—you are allowed to:
·         drive over centre lines (including double unbroken centre lines) on a 2-way road
·         straddle or cross a lane line (including a continuous lane line) on a multi-lane road
·         drive on a painted island.
If it is not safe to pass a cyclist, you must wait until it is safe to pass.
Cyclists are permitted to ride in special purpose lanes such as:
Bike lane
Bus lane
Tram lane (The Gold Coast trams operate on a tramway, not a tram line. Cyclists are not permitted on the tramway.)
Transit lane
Signals- cyclists are actually only required to signal when turning right.
Roundabouts- Vehicle operators wishing to turn right on a multi-lane roundabout must enter the roundabout from the right hand lane (unless signage or road signs indicate otherwise). Cyclists wishing to turn right at the same roundabout may enter the roundabout from either lane; however, a cyclist entering from the left lane must give way to any vehicle wishing to exit the roundabout.

These two links provide more information on rulesfor cyclists and the rules associated with the safeovertaking distances.

Okay- now ride (or drive) safe- 
someone's son/daughter/mother/father/aunt/uncle/grandmother/grandfather/etc.. you get the picture, could be on that bike.



Trevor Woodford said...

Glad to see you posting again....have missed the read..!!

BoaB said...

Thanks for stopping by Trevor. I'll try to make it a bit shorter break next time- Cheers

tim joe comstock said...

Scott I was just thinking about you and Dee. How goes it?

old tim joe

BoaB said...

Hey Tim Joe- good to hear from you. Dee and I are travelling pretty well. Not riding nearly as much as we should (and our physiques are reflecting that change).

We now have three adopted greyhounds as house companions (read overseers and ultra fast couch potatoes) and their daily ritual takes us out on a morning walk at just exactly the time we should be riding (flimsy excuse I know).


Scott and Della