The written and unwritten pedestrian road rules in Victoria

People stepping out onto the road from a kerb on a rainy day

Nicola Dowse

Posted April 13, 2023

Walking is something most of us engage in almost every day, but how familiar are you with the pedestrian road rules in Victoria?

When travelling on foot, you probably don’t think as much about the road rules. Why would you – you're not travelling in a vehicle. But pedestrians (which includes not just those on foot but also those pushing a bicycle, or using a wheeled device such as a skateboard, roller skates or rollerblades, wheelchairs and mobility scooters) are bound by several road rules just as their cyclist and motorist counterparts are. 

When we are pedestrians, we’re choosing a cleaner, more active form of transportation that also helps alleviate issues like congestion for those who drive on roads in Melbourne. But journeys also need to be safe for pedestrians.  

With almost all of us travelling as pedestrians regularly, how many of these road rules do you know?

Road rules for pedestrians in Victoria

Crossing a road with lights or a crossing 

Where dedicated crossings or pedestrian lights exist, you must use them. You must not cross if facing a red traffic light or red pedestrian light either – even if you can’t see any oncoming traffic. You must not cross at a level crossing when there are lights flashing or alarms sounding either. 

Crossing a road without lights or a crossing 

You don’t have to use a dedicated crossing or pedestrian lights if the nearest one is more than 20 metres away. However, you should use the shortest and most direct route to cross the road and not move into the path of a vehicle in a way that could cause a hazard.

Walking on the road 

In most cases it’s illegal for pedestrians to walk on the road. However, in the case that there is no footpath or nature strip available, pedestrians are permitted to walk on the road but should travel along the oncoming traffic side of the road (so that you can easily see approaching vehicles). Pedestrians also can’t travel along paths marked as ‘bike lanes’ and should give way to cyclists and other wheeled device users when crossing a path marked as such.

Pedestrians must also obey traffic signs relevant to them (e.g. ‘no pedestrians’) and traffic orders given by police.


People in athleisure wear crossing a road near a tram

Pedestrians should use designated crossings where available and practical. Photo: Getty.

Pedestrian road rules for motorists 

Giving way 

Motorists need to give way when turning left or right at most intersections, as well as in slip lanes, shared areas (where vehicles and pedestrians share the road) and when making a U-turn. The exception is roundabouts, where pedestrians should give way to motorists.


Motorists must also give way to pedestrians using a footpath that crosses over a private driveway. Motorists must wait for the pedestrian (or cyclist legally using the footpath) to finish crossing the driveway before they proceed to enter it. 

Tram stops 

‘When a tram stops, you stop’ is one of the golden rules when it comes to driving with trams in Victoria. Some tram stops are built so that pedestrians alight directly onto the road, hence why motorists must stop when they see a tram halt at a tram stop. Motorists must stop behind trams, wait for all passengers to finish crossing the road and for the tram doors to close before proceeding past the tram at no more than 10kph.  

Dropping off passengers 

Motorists should pull over to a complete stop before letting any passengers out of the car – it is illegal for pedestrians to exit a moving vehicle.  


A person pressing a pedestrian crossing button while looking at their smartphone

Be mindful you don't lose awareness of your surroundings or inconvenience others if using your phone. Photo: Getty

Pedestrian etiquette 

Stick to the left  

We all travel on foot at different speeds – and that’s fine! But it’s courteous to be mindful of others who may be in a rush (particularly if you’re walking near a major transport hub) and will appreciate being able to move past you if need be.  

Don’t crowd the footpath  

Be aware of other pedestrians around you (including behind you) and move into single file to let others pass. Allow pedestrians who are elderly, with children or have reduced mobility or mobility aids additional space. 

Reconsider your need to smoke or vape while moving 

Smoking or vaping while walking increases the likelihood of other pedestrians breathing in secondhand smoke. While some people may find this unpleasant at worst, for others (such as asthmatics) it can be genuinely hazardous to their health. In Melbourne, it is illegal to smoke in several high foot traffic areas such as Bourke Street Mall, Block Place and the Tan. Stop to one side if you need to smoke or find a designated outdoor smoking area.  

Don’t get distracted 

Unlike motorists, pedestrians can legally hold and use a phone while moving. But these devices can still be distracting and potentially lead to accidents if you’re not careful. A 2022 study by Monash University’s Accident Research Centre revealed 20 per cent of pedestrians in Melbourne’s CBD used a device while walking, with roughly a third of them involved in a ‘safety-critical’ incident (such as failing to do a head check before crossing a road). Think about whether you need to have your eyes glued to your phone while walking in a busy pedestrian area and pay attention when crossing a road. 

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