New bike rule puts families on footpath

Mother and child share a bike riding along city path.

Sue Hewitt

Posted October 22, 2019

New bike rules see older children get an extra year to ride legally on footpaths.

New road laws will make it easier for families to cycle together by closing a loophole that forced older children to ride on the road while their younger siblings and supervising parents rode on the footpath. 

Under the new rules introduced last week, children aged under 13 can ride on footpaths, increasing the age by a year in line with the age of primary-school children. Children aged 13 and over can now ride on the footpath when they are supervising a child under 13 riding on the footpath.  

In other changes, adults over 18 can now ride on a footpath with a child in a child seat or pedalling on a hitch bike – a single-wheel bike that attaches to the adult’s bike.

RACV’s senior engineer roads and traffic Emily McLean says the rule changes are common sense and make it easier for families to ride together.

“Mostly they provide additional clarifications or close loopholes in the road rules,” she says. “The rules for children riding on footpaths were confusing for families with teenagers and younger children.”

She says under the old rules families faced a scenario where an adult could legally ride on the footpath with a child aged under 12 on the footpath, but any child aged 12 to 17 had to ride on the road.

“The old rules also meant that a child aged 12 or older couldn’t ride on the footpath and supervise a younger sibling.”

A Department of Transport spokesperson says the rules were changed after consultation with pedestrian and cycling organisations, councils and the community.

But while the new rules allow more families to ride on the footpath together, cyclists of any age using the footpath must give way to pedestrians, slow down when approaching pedestrians and ring a bell or call out to let pedestrians know a cyclist is nearby. Cyclists must dismount and walk bikes across roads unless signs indicate otherwise.

Other road rule changes include drivers having to give way to pedestrians entering a pedestrian crossing, as well as giving way to someone who has already entered the crossing; and allowing police officers to undertake police driver training on public roads.

Another rule was amended to clarify the speed limit that applies to a driver in a lane marked closed by a red cross on overhead signs, and says the limit is the same as adjacent lanes marked open. 

Click here for a full explanation of rules for cycling on bike lanes, paths and footpaths.

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