Cycling

Information on bicycle infrastructure and safe riding

Cycling in Victoria

Riding a bicycle is one of the simplest, most accessible forms of transport for many Victorians. Riding is healthy, has a very low environmental impact
and can be faster and more convenient for many trips.  RACV recognises the value of cycling for the wider community, and the importance of safe,
connected infrastructure that can enable more people to choose to ride. Our research seeks to understand issues across Victoria
and underpins the advocacy we undertake. We also publish advice regarding road rules and tips for safe riding.

Research

Priority routes

RACV has identified priority cycling routes across inner and middle-metropolitan Melbourne in a bid to promote safe and active options for Melburnians to move around the city. In 2017 RACV’s market research found that more people would ride if there were routes they considered safe and direct. This new research identifies priority cycling corridors that will benefit high numbers of riders that commute to work and education if they are improved and completed.

RACV’s research considered relevant data such as population, employment, school enrolments and the reported history of bicycle crashes to establish a shortlist of corridors. The corridors are based upon those already developed by the Department of Transport, in conjunction with VicRoads and Councils. Some of the priority corridors are well served with quality infrastructure, such as Canning Street and Gardiners Creek Trail, whereas others have no or low quality infrastructure.

If safe, separated and connected bicycle routes are built within the selected corridors, the factors considered by RACV and its consultant, CDM Research, mean they are highly likely to be well used because they will address the concerns of people already interested in riding but too scared to ride.  They will connect people to their places of employment, schools and other major bicycle corridors. 

In addition to known priority routes like St Kilda Road and Sydney Road, the following routes ranked highly in this new analysis;

  • Chapel Street
  • Flemington Road – Mount Alexander Road

Watch the above video to see the top ten routes. There are seventeen priority routes that our analysis has identified, shown in the picture to the right. Additionally, in the west, the West Gate Tunnel project is constructing a high quality separated route along Footscray Road, and completing missing sections of the Federation Trail.

The next step is for the State Government to work with Councils to identify the exact routes within the prioritised corridors, and to provide financial assistance for their construction within this term of Government.

RACV cycling priority routes

Market research

In February 2017, RACV commissioned market research to learn more about Victorians and their bike riding behaviours, experiences and opinions. The key research finding are outlined in this report and are based on the responses of a representative sample of more than 800 Victorians who completed a 15-minute online survey. 

Advocacy

RACV advocates for improved transport services for all our members, including those who ride a bicycle. Market research shows that nearly half of RACV's members ride, with one in five doing so at least once a week.

Advocacy for enhanced safety and improved cycling infrastructure is undertaken by representing RACV members and working with organisations such as Bicycle Network Victoria and the Amy Gillett Foundation on specific projects to ensure the needs of bicycle riders are met. 

RACV supports bicycle riding by:

  • Supporting safer on-road cycling corridors along key routes such as Sydney Road.

  • Identifying missing links and priorities in the cycling network.

  • Promoting the social, health, environmental and economic benefits of bike riding.

  • Providing road and bicycle riding safety education programs for school children through RACV Street Scene.

  • Funding research into riding related issues, including our 2017 market research results

Advice

Buying a bicycle helmet

Illustration for helmet safety featuring a certification label

1.    Standard

Make sure the helmet meets the Australian Standards. All helmets sold in bike stores in Australia are required to meet these standards. To check, look for the label inside the helmet that says it’s certified to meet Australian Standards. If you’re buying a helmet online, make sure you’re buying from a reputable Australian retailer.

Handy hint: When riding a bicycle or scooter in Australia, you must be wearing an Australian Certified helmet.

Illustration for helmet safety featuring fit information

2.    Fit

Children’s helmets are often one size fits all, but adult sized helmet shells are a range of basic sizes. Make sure the helmet fits level on your head – snug but not too tight. The front of your helmet should be one or two fingers above your eyebrows. The ‘Y’ of the helmet strap should join just under your ears and both arms of the strap should sit flat against your head. When the straps have been correctly adjusted, you will not be able to pull the helmet forward off your head.

Good quality helmets often have an adjuster at the back – usually a wheel or dial that you can turn to tighten or loosen the straps. Helmets with these adjusters fit better and are often more comfortable.

Handy hint: If you’re buying online, you can find your ‘hat’ size by wrapping a tape measure around your head above your ears and across your forehead like a sweatband.

Illustration for helmet safety featuring quality information

3.    Quality

Consider purchasing an in-mold helmet, where the plastic shell and shock absorbing foam are created in one piece. These helmets generally cost more than helmets created in two parts. While both are safe to use, in-mold helmets are generally more durable and perform better when they hit the ground.

Some helmets come with an additional layer of protection inside the shock absorbing foam, called a multidirectional Impact Protection System (MIPS). This system moves slightly on impact, reducing the force of an impact and helping to reduce concussion style injuries.

Handy hint: If there is foam on the outside of the helmet, you can feel a space between the shell and lining or you can see tape running around the helmet where the cover meets the foam, then it’s probably not an in-mold helmet.

Illustration for helmet safety featuring visibility information

4.    Visibility

Pick a helmet with bright, contrasting colours and reflective strips.

Handy hint: If you’re buying a helmet for child, make sure they like the look of it as they will be happier wearing it.

5.    Replacing your helmet

If you happen to fall off your bike and your helmet hits the ground, it’s time to get a new one. After a solid impact, the foam will have reduced its ability to absorb shocks and the shell may have cracks that you may not be able to see.

Handy hint: Treat your helmet with care. If you keep dropping it on the garage floor, the shock absorbance may be reduced before you really need it for protection in a crash.

Bicycle riding with children

A child cycles along a bike lane wearing a helmet

Keep safe when bicycle riding by ensuring that children understand and follow road rules when riding on roads and road-related areas like bike paths, bike lanes, shared and separated footpaths.

Supervision

  • Parents should spend time supervising children while they develop the necessary skills to be able to ride in a straight line, brake properly and corner safely.
  • Choose a flat, open space away from traffic with a surface that is suitable for children to practice.  
  • It is not recommended that children under 12 ride on the road without adult supervision.

 Safety equipment

  • Bike riders are required to wear a securely and correctly fitted and fastened bicycle helmet.
  • Helmets should have a sticker showing the Australian Standard AS 2063, AS/NZS 2063.
  • A bicycle must have a bell, horn or similar warning device and at least one effective brake.
  • When riding at night or in poor light, stay visible with front and rear lights and a rear red reflector.

Bicycle rules

  • Children can ride on footpaths up to the age of 12 as can the adult riding with them.
  • Help your children cross roads safely by walking bikes across roads and using pedestrian crossings.
  • When riding, children should be facing forward and have both hands on the handlebars.
  • Give way to pedestrians when bicycle riding.
  • It’s important to remember that bike riders need to follow all the same road rules as motorists.

Safety tips

  • Teach children to cycle safely from an early age such as making a shoulder check behind them before they signal and turn.
  • Remember to be clearly visible to motorists by wearing bright clothes.
  • Ride on bike paths - children are safer away from the road environment.
  • Watch out for cars going in and out of driveways when riding on footpaths.
  • Replace helmets that have been involved in an accident or dropped from a height, even if there is no visible damage.
  • Maintain and check bikes on a regular basis.

Bicycle safety checklist

Getting the right bike: stand your child over the bicycle with both feet on the ground. For medium or lightweight bikes there should be at least 2cm between the crotch and the crossbar (or where crossbar would be). For BMX and mountain bikes, there should be at least 5cm between the crotch and crossbar.

Seat: Adjusted to correctly height and comfortable.

Brakes: Brake blocks should be fitted correctly and not worn down.

Chain: Oil frequently and check that the chain is not too loose.

Tyres: Look for bald spots, bulges and cuts. Tyres should not 'squash' when squeezed.

Pedals: Check that they spin freely.

Bell or horn: Should be loud enough for others to hear.

Reflectors and lights: Should be secure, properly aligned, clean and working.

Transporting children’s bikes

For more information about transporting a bike on your car, see the section bicycle carriers.

FAQ's

Can you ride on a footpath?

If you are an adult riding with a child younger than 12 years of age, you can ride on the footpath. However, adults on their own and riders above 12 years old need to ride on bike paths or on the road.

How do I indicate? 

On a bicycle, you can indicate any turns to other cyclists and motorists by stretching out your hands - hold your right hand at a 90-degree angle from your body for a right turn, and your left hand at a 90-degree angle for a left turn.

How can I stay safe on the road?

There are a few simple rules to keep in mind to stay safe while riding your bike. The first is to wear a helmet - in Victoria, the law is to wear a helmet whenever you are riding a bicycle or motorbike, whether you are on the road or not. Second, wear bright or reflective clothing, to ensure you stand out to motorists. Third, always ride with lights, whether it's day or night - this is another way you can ensure you stay out.