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Australian Road Rules – Proposed Amendments Affecting Cyclists

Cycling in Fremantle

The National Transport Commission (NTC), on July 31, 2013 released the latest package of proposed amendments to the Australian Road Rules for public consultation. Submissions are being accepted up to September 4, 2013.

Proposed Amendments to the Australian Road Rules Affecting Cyclists

The proposed amendments are detailed in the Model Amendments Regulations – Australian Road Rules – Package No. 10. The proposed changes that are directly relevant to cyclists include:

Dictionary – definition of bicycle: to amend the definition to include power-assisted pedal cycles as defined under the Motor Vehicle Standards Act 1989 (Cwlth), pursuant to recent amendments to allow for vehicles referred to as pedalecs to be regarded as bicycles and not motor vehicles.

Rule 153(4) – bicycle lanes: to clarify that road markings, and not only signs, can be used to commence or end a bicycle lane (the marking comprising a white painted bicycle symbol and the word “lane”, and including the word “end” as appropriate).

The definition of bicycle lane in rule 153(4)(b)(ii) makes it clear that a bicycle lane ends at an intersection, unless broken lines continue the lane across the intersection. A bicycle lane is the only special purpose lane that has such restrictions. For example, bus lanes and transit lanes continue through all intersections they pass through without any additional signs or markings.

The consequence of this sub-rule is that if a bicycle lane is to legitimately continue beyond an intersection, another sign must be installed after the intersection. This is the case even if it is obvious that the bicycle lane is intended to continue.

The original proposer of this amendment believes it is an unnecessary waste of resources for the Rules to insist on a bicycle lane sign after every intersection, and therefore this requirement should be removed. The road design manuals used by engineers treat bicycle lanes as unique in appearance, when compared to other road uses. The use of bicycle lane pavement symbols and green surfacing are becoming commonplace on thousands of streets across Australia.

This proposal would provide a higher level of consistency in relation to the rules for special purpose lanes; reduce the cost for road authorities in developing infrastructure for bicycles, as well as legally establish many bicycle lanes that currently fall outside the definition simply because a sign has not been installed. The amendment to rule 153(4) would make it clear that a bicycle lane can begin at a bicycle lane sign applying to the lane or a road marking comprising both a white bicycle symbol and the word “lane” painted in white. Similarly, a bicycle lane could end either by way of an end bicycle lane sign or a road marking comprising both a white bicycle symbol and the words “end lane” painted in white, as well as the other ways for ending a bicycle lane provided in rule 153(4).

Rule 260 – stopping for a red bicycle crossing light: to clarify the operation of the bicycle crossing light rules and to ensure consistency throughout the Rules.

Rule 261 – stopping for a yellow bicycle crossing light: to clarify the operation of the bicycle crossing light rules and to ensure consistency throughout the Rules.

The Rules relating to riders of bicycles stopping for a red bicycle crossing light (rule 260) and stopping for a yellow bicycle crossing light (rule 261) have been amended to be consistent with the rules which apply to pedestrians crossing at traffic lights. The amendments to rules 260 and 261 are required to create consistency within the Rules, which increases the likelihood of community understanding and compliance with the Rules.

The changes are based on advice from the Australian Road Rules Maintenance Group which includes representatives from road agencies and police from each of the state and territories across Australia, as well as a Commonwealth representative.

“Feedback received during the public consultation period will inform the amendment package that will be presented to the ministers from the Standing Council on Transport and Infrastructure (SCOTI) for approval later in 2013,” said Mr Retter.

“It is important to note that, as with all of the Rules Amendment Packages, the amendments in the 10th package will only take effect once they are approved by SCOTI and are adopted into the law of each state and territory.”

Making a Submission on the Proposed Amendments

Public submissions are open until September 4, 2013. If you are interested in making an online submission please visit the National Transport Commission homepage and select “Make a submission to the NTC” from the News & Publications menu.

Alternatively, you can mail your comments to:

Australian Road Rules 10th Amendment Package,
National Transport Commission,
Level 15/628 Bourke Street,
MELBOURNE VIC 3000.

Where possible, you should provide evidence, such as data and documentation, to support your views.

Unless submissions clearly request otherwise, all submissions will be published online. Submissions that contain defamatory or offensive content will not be published.

Background on the Australian Road Rules

The Australian Road Rules were introduced in 1999 and contain the basic rules of the road for motorists, motorcyclists, cyclists, pedestrians, passengers and other road users.

The Rules form the basis of the road rules in each state and territory. As ‘model laws’, however, they have no legislative force of their own.

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