When it comes to lazy Sunday bike rides, the footpath can be awfully tempting: there’s less vehicular danger to worry about, fewer traffic fumes to choke on and it’s infinitely easier to stop and sniff the flowers (which is what life's all about, right?) Unfortunately, several states in Australia have laws against this sort of thing, which can result in on-the-spot fines ranging from $50 to $200.
No cycling picture from Shutterstock
With this in mind, we’ve assembled a quick guide to the current footpath rules for cyclists in each State.
Children under the age of 12 can ride on a footpath, unless there is a sign forbidding all bicycle riding. Adults supervising cyclists under 12 years of age can also ride their bicycles on the footpath. Everyone else needs to stick to the roads, unless otherwise indicated by signage.
A bike rider who is 12 years old or older must not ride on any footpath unless supervising a child who is also on a bicycle. Everyone else needs to stick to the roads, unless otherwise indicated by signage.
Cyclists of any age are allowed to ride on any footpath unless a ‘no bicycles’ sign has been erected.
Children under 12 years of age may ride on any footpath unless otherwise indicated by signage. Everyone else needs to stick to the roads, unless otherwise indicated by signage.
Cyclists can only ride on the footpath if they are under the age of 12 or are carrying a certificate issued by a medical practitioner.
Cyclists are able to share footpaths with other users, unless an area is clearly signed otherwise. Local Councils have the power to declare ‘No Go Zones’ in Tasmania where bikes are not allowed.
All cyclists are permitted to ride on footpaths unless indicated otherwise by signage.
Bike riders of all ages are permitted to ride on footpaths unless they are signed otherwise.
Naturally, none of the above rules apply when a footpath has been marked as a designated bicycle track or shared path by the appropriate authorities. (Thankfully, these are becoming increasingly common, particularly in metropolitan areas.)
Where riding on footpaths is permissible, there are a handful of rules that cyclists need to be aware of across all states. These include keeping left unless overtaking, giving way to pedestrians at all times (including people on skateboards and rollerskates), and traveling in single file when riding in groups. Having an animal tied to a moving bike is against the rules too.
Cyclists also need to signal before turning and give way to vehicles entering or exiting an intersecting road -- just as you would when riding on the road.
Naturally, you are also required by law to ride in a manner that does not inconvenience or endanger other footpath users -- so riding drunk without a helmet isn't a good idea.
In some states, adults are able to ride on footpaths regardless of the road rules. However, you’ll need to prove you have a physical or intellectual disability that precludes you from riding on roads (in Victoria, you’ll need to produce a certificate signed by a registered medical practitioner, for instance).