Sharing the road with buses, bicycles, motorcycles, trams and trucks

It is important that all road users share the road, by obeying the rules and being patient with other road users. Respect and courtesy are important factors in being safe on our roads.

This video from VicRoads is a useful reminder about being in the right mindset when driving.


Sharing the road with buses

We share the road with vehicles which are often larger than our own, including buses that need extra space to move and turn. Large vehicles like these handle very differently to cars, and there are several Road Rules designed specifically for these larger vehicles that aim to keep you safe, and help out professional drivers as well.

Cars turning left and right at an intersection must normally use the left or right turning lane respectively.  However buses and other long vehicles displaying a “Do not overtake turning vehicle” sign can turn left or right from the lane adjacent to the turning lane, or use both lanes if necessary, to make the turn safely. Drivers must not drive past or overtake to the left (or right) of a vehicle displaying this sign when it’s indicating to make the turn, so it’s usually best to hang back a bit and let them proceed first.

The Road Rules also identify that when driving in the left lane or in a left line of traffic in a built-up area, a driver must give way to a bus displaying a “Give way to buses” sign when it is stopped or moving slowly, and indicating to rejoin the traffic stream from the left. 

For more information see the Victorian Road Safety Road Rules 2009 Rule 77.

A few seconds of extra courtesy on your part might help up to 50 people catch their connecting bus or train by reducing delays for the bus service. Also, buses need more space than cars when stopping, so it’s also important not to cut in front of them at traffic lights or roundabouts, even though the gap may look large to you.

Watch the following short video by VicRoads for more information on sharing the road.


Sharing the road with bicycles

When driving on our roads, it is important to share the roads with other users, including bicycle riders. Market research shows nearly half of  RACV’s members ride, with one in five doing so at least once a week.

It is important to remember that bicycle riders are legitimate road users and are as entitled to use the road as other forms of motorised transport. When travelling on the road, bicycles are classified as vehicles and are required to obey all the Road Rules as other drivers must. 

RACV encourages all road users to treat each other with respect, and remember that the rules talk about ‘giving way’ to other road users, and not who has ‘right of way’. In fact under the rules no user has ‘right of way’!

Also see our information on the road rules that apply to bicycle riders.  

The following summarises the rules for drivers to be aware of when travelling around bicycles.

Bicycle lanes

Drivers may only drive in a bicycle lane for up to 50 metres when they are entering or  leaving the road, avoiding an obstruction, passing a vehicle that is turning right, or parking (if parking is not prohibited). When a bicycle lane is provided on a road, in the direction of travel, bicycle riders must ride in the bicycle lane unless it is impracticable to do so.

Head start boxes

Bicycle storage areas or ‘head-start boxes’ that are now provided at some signalised intersections. These are areas painted in front of the stop line, but before any pedestrian crossing to allow riders to safely wait in front of traffic. Drivers must stop at the first line at a red light and not enter the area reserved for bicycles. Bicycle riders must stop at the second line, within the storage area.

Opening  car doors

Before opening car doors (as a driver or a passenger as some cycle lanes are on the  passenger side), use your mirrors and do a head check. A driver must not cause a hazard to a bicycle rider (or any other road user for that matter) by opening a car door or getting out of a vehicle.

Remember:

  • Bicycles are considered vehicles under the road rules, and cyclists are permitted to ride on the road, even if there is a nearby off-road path (unless signs indicate cycling is not allowed  on-road)
  • Although not a rule, RACV recommends leaving at least one metre when overtaking bicycle riders – more if travelling over 60km/h
  • Bicycle riders are allowed to ride up to two abreast, and up to 1.5 metres apart. Another rider may pass if overtaking.
  • Bicycle riders are allowed to overtake to the left of a vehicle, unless that vehicle is turning left and indicating.
  • When turning right, bicycle riders have the option of making a hook turn at any intersection unless signs prohibit bicycles from doing so.  Riders can also turn right from the left lane at a roundabout.
  • Give bicycle riders space when sharing the road as sometimes they need to ride out of a lane to avoid a hazard or obstacle. There is however a requirement that they do not cause a hazard.
  • Be considerate about where you park your vehicle. Don’t obstruct bicycle riders or bicycle lanes, unless it is legal to park there. Even if you can park across a part-time bicycle lane, consider parking elsewhere so the space remains available for riders.
  • Drivers involved in a crash are required to give their details, and those of the owner of the vehicle if it is not theirs, to any person who had been injured or the owner of any property that has been damaged.

Watch the following short videos for more information on sharing the road.



For more information:

  • Find out about RACV’s advocacy and activities for cyclists
  • Read ‘Sharing roads and paths’ brochure –this RACV sponsored brochure is a Code of Conduct for riders, drivers and pedestrians - that is available to download, or for a hard copy hard copy contact us.
  • VicRoads has developed a sticker pack to remind drivers and passengers to look for bicycle riders before getting in and out of their car. To order your pack please call VicRoads on (03) 8391 3255 or visit your local VicRoads Customer Service Centre to pick one up.

Sharing the road with motorcycles 

When driving on our roads, it is important to share the roads with other users, including motorcycle or scooter riders.   

Also see our information on the road rules that apply to motorcycle riders.  

The following summarises the rules for drivers to be aware of when travelling around motorbikes.

Opening car doors

Before opening car doors, use your mirrors and do a head check. A driver must not cause a hazard to any other road user by opening a car door or getting out of a vehicle.

An illustration of lane filtering hazards

Lane filtering

From 2 November 2015, motorcycles are allowed to travel between a line of stopped or slow moving traffic and parked vehicles or between two lines of moving vehicles. The motorcycle rider must not travel at more than 30km/h. For more information see the Victorian Road Safety Road Rules 2009 rules 151A and 269.

Watch this video from VicRoads which explains more about lane filtering.


Motorbike parking signs

Unless stopping to drop off or pick up passengers, a driver must not stop on a length of road with a motorbike parking sign. For more information see the Victorian Road Safety Road Rules 2009 rule 202.’

Remember:

  • Motorbike riders are allowed to ride up to two abreast, and up to 1.5 metres apart. Another rider may pass if overtaking.
  • When entering a road from a driveway or side road, or turning right into a driveway or side road, look carefully for approaching motorcycle and bicycle riders. From 2 November 2015, if traffic is stopped or moving slowly, motorcycle riders may be travelling between lanes of traffic, and difficult to see. The motorcycle rider must not travel at more than 30km/h.
  • Look for bicycle and motorcycle riders when parked and opening car doors. From 2 November 2015, motorcycles are allowed to travel between parked vehicles and a line of stopped or slow moving traffic. The motorcycle rider must not travel at more than 30km/h.

For more information

  • Find out about RACV’s advocacy and activities for motorcyclists
  • Read ‘Sharing roads and paths’ brochure – this RACV sponsored brochure is a Code of Conduct for riders, drivers and pedestrians and is available to download, or contact us for a hard copy .
  • Watch VicRoads short video to help motorists understand on how to share the road with motorcyclists and bicycle riders. Checking for cyclists and motorcyclists.

Sharing the road with trams

A growing number of people are being injured or killed through accidents with trams, so understanding the rules for sharing the road with trams is essential to ensure the safety of car drivers, pedestrians, tram passengers and tram drivers.  A bus travelling along tram tracks is considered to be a tram and the same rules apply.

Tramways

Tramways are for use solely by trams. They are identified by two continuous yellow lines or a raised structure (such as a dividing strip, traffic island or row of bollards) beside the tram tracks, with an overhead sign that shows an image of a tram and the word “ONLY”. Drivers must not drive in a tramway unless avoiding an obstruction provided the driver does not move into the path of an approaching tram travelling in the tramway.

Tram lanes

Tram lanes are identified by a solid yellow line and overhead sign that shows a tram and the word “LANE”. Lanes can be full-time or part-time (days and hours are specified on the signs). You are not allowed to drive in or across a tram lane when it is operating. There are some exceptions, a driver can drive in a tram lane for up to 50 metres, when turning right or avoiding an obstruction provided trams are not delayed.  

Tram stops

Drivers should always be prepared to stop when they see a tram slowing down. When a tram stops at a tram stop, a driver travelling in the same direction as the tram must stop and give way to any tram passenger crossing the road between the tram and the roadside. If the driver is behind the rear of a tram when it stops, the driver must stop before passing the rear of the tram. This rule does not apply when the tram stops at the far left side of the road (e.g. at stops known as kerbside stops, where the road narrows to one lane in each direction) or where the tram stop is separated by a safety zone, dividing strip or traffic island.

The driver must remain stationary until the doors close and all passengers have cleared the road. The driver may than proceed, but may not exceed 10km/h while passing the tram. This ensures the safety of tram passengers.

If the tram remains stopped but its doors are closed and no pedestrians are crossing the road, or a uniformed employee of a public transport operator directs the driver to pass the tram, the driver can proceed past the tram at no faster than 10km/h.

Unless otherwise indicated by a sign, a driver must not park or stop within 20 meters of the approach side of a tram stop.

A tram passenger must not cross the road to get on a tram until the tram has stopped at the tram stop. When getting off a tram passengers must cross to the nearest footpath and must not stay on the road longer than necessary.

Safety zones

A safety zone is a platform or marked area on a road which separates vehicles from trams for the protection of pedestrians boarding or leaving trams. A driver must not drive on a tram safety zone. Drivers must drive to the left of the safety zone at a speed that does not endanger pedestrians crossing the road to or from the safety zone.

Giving way to trams

Drivers must not move into the path of an approaching tram with a broken or continuous yellow line parallel to the tracks. If a driver is travelling on tram tracks and a tram is approaching, the driver must move out of the lane as soon as they can do so safely.

Drivers must give way to trams moving into or through a roundabout.

Raised dividing strips

It is illegal to drive over a raised dividing strip. When driving through a break in the dividing strip a driver must give way to any tram or vehicle travelling on the part of the road the driver is entering.

For more information:

  • Also read our advice on part-time tram lanes
  • Visit VicRoads website and watch their video to better understand how to share the road  with trams and when you can safely pass or overtake a tram. Watch VicRoads video.

Sharing the road with trucks

Sharing the road with trucks is an everyday driving experience in Melbourne and you can expect to find trucks on nearly any road in Victoria. Trucks are not confined to the arterial road network, and even the most residential of streets still have need for services such as garbage collection and furniture delivery!

The key to safe driving is common sense – give trucks the room they need and remember that they take longer to stop than cars.

A loaded truck may weigh up to 50 times that of a passenger car, and needs a longer distance to  stop safely. When a truck leaves a large gap approaching a red traffic light it’s because this braking distance is necessary. By cutting in front to get ahead, car drivers may not leave the truck driver enough room to avoid a rear-end crash.

Nearly all truck drivers, like car drivers, are law abiding and share the road safely. If you see a truck driver displaying poor behaviour, and it has a sign on the back showing a number to call, consider asking a passenger to note it down and telephone when safe to do so. Responsible transport employers will value this information and investigate your concern thoroughly. Dangerous driving behaviour, as for drivers of all vehicles, should be reported to the police. If there is a passenger in the car, and it is safe to do so, get them to note the number plate on the truck (preferable) or the trailer.

Overtaking

Trucks displaying a “do not overtake turning vehicle” sign need extra room to make sharp turns. By law, drivers must not drive past, or overtake to the left of a vehicle displaying this sign if it is indicating to turn left, unless it is safe to do so. This also applies to a vehicle turning right or doing a U-turn from the centre of the road. In practice, this means hanging back even if it looks like the left or right turn lane is vacant – the gap will close quickly once the truck starts its turn.

Drivers being overtaken on two lane roads are required not to increase their speed until overtaking is complete and there is a sufficient distance in front to avoid a collision. This is especially important when being overtaken by trucks, which are speed limited and have less overtaking power than cars.

Using headlights

When using headlights on high beam, extra care is needed to avoid glare to truck drivers. Truck mirrors are large and don’t have anti-glare positions, so dip your lights as required by law, no closer than 200 metres to a moving vehicle, or further away if it’s safe to do so.

Leave a safe gap

When following trucks, make sure there is a sufficient gap to stop safely to avoid a collision. This also allows the truck driver to be aware you are there. If you can’t see the truck mirrors, the truck driver can’t see you.

Keep left unless overtaking

On some freeways (Princes Fwy between Kororoit Creek Rd and Avalon Rd, and Eastern Fwy between Springvale Rd and Hoddle St), trucks over 4.5 tonnes GVM are restricted from the right lane. No Truck signs on the freeway and at entry points indicate this restriction. On these roads, trucks are unable to legally use the right lane to overtake slower moving vehicles. Therefore, rather than driving in the centre lane, it is courteous to keep left when practical to give trucks free passage past your vehicle should they desire it.