Bikes On Footpaths: When Is It Lawful?

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.


NSW

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.

Victoria

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.

Queensland

Cyclists of any age are allowed to ride on any footpath unless a ‘no bicycles’ sign has been erected.

Western Australia

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.

South Australia

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.

Tasmania

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.

ACT

All cyclists are permitted to ride on footpaths unless indicated otherwise by signage.

Northern Territory

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).


Comments

    does this mean I can ride my bike on any side walk in QLD? Even downtown brisbane?

      It sure does! I do it every day

        Yep, thank god, otherwise I'd never cycle in this town. Too fucking dangerous.

          I think you'll find the central CBD area of Brisbane city, particularly Queen Street Mall has quite a few, 'No Cycling' signs on the foot-paths.

          To Quote Brisbane City Council - http://www.brisbane.qld.gov.au/facilities-recreation/sports-and-leisure/cycling/cycling-rules-and-signs/index.htm

          "Bicycles should not be ridden in public squares and malls such as Reddacliff Place, Queen Street Mall and any other public areas with a 'no bicycles' sign. Cyclists must dismount and walk their bicycles through these areas."

      No, because we don't have "sidewalks" in Australia, we have "footpaths".

      Sorry, I'm very much anti-Americanism.

      If you can find one of these 'side walks'. We have footpaths here.

    Bikes should ONLY be allowed on the footpath. The amount of traffic problems caused by bikes on the road is enormous.

    Now I don't mean accidents, I mean a general slow down and congestion in traffic.

    I know my daily commute would be a hell of a lot easier and faster without cyclists on the road.

    It works for Japan and they have an insane amount of people.

      If you cycled more, my health insurance would be cheaper and I could afford a fancy car. As a motorist-turned cyclist: I can see both sides. Cyclists may delay you a few seconds (a few minutes over the entire journey), but I think you'll find it is the masses of OTHER CARS making your commute slow. Better road/network design, better public transport and tripled petrol prices (for those who don't own a work vehicle) are the solutions.

        As the saying goes, you aren't IN traffic, you ARE traffic.

          Traffic that is allowed to 'drive' between lanes, and weave in and out of other traffic.

            You mean Moterbikes right? Oh that drives me nuts too... or are you refering to the P platers with the spoilers? "what red light?" On your next drive home, count how many cyclists do this, and count the Moterbikes too.

              Exactly! Or better yet, take it one step further and start treating cyclists and bikers and P-platers and members of every other group... screw it, let's add men, women, minorities and LGBT's to the list - that isn't your own as individuals instead of lumping them together into conveniently broad-stroked hate targets based on the actions of a tiny few that you've happened to notice doing something you disapprove of.

              Nah, just kidding. Screw 'em.

                Mate you need to calm down a bit, seriously.

        Except a bike 3 blocks down the road causes all traffic in one lane to have to merge into another, pushing all traffic back, times that by the dozen or so cyclists I pass each morning and it'd add up to more than a few minutes per journey.

        I get that some people need/want to cycle, I'm just saying that the roads are bad enough with just cars on them - bikes just make it that much worse.

        Roads were designed to carry traffic consisting of motorised vehicles all going a set speed, not bicycles.

          Except a bike 3 blocks down the road causes all traffic in one lane to have to merge into another, pushing all traffic back,
          It seems your problem is actually just shit drivers.

        Agreed... there are places where I zip past the cars as they sit in grid lock. Same places every single day. Oddly enough, there's no cyclist holding up the lot.

        When you read comments like this you'd almost be forgiven for thinking cyclists are incapable of grasping the notion that there are in fact more ways to exercise than riding a bike.

        I go to the gym 5 days a week, and swim 4 days for cardio, but I'd NEVER take up cycling in Sydney because the roads simply are not designed for them. As it stands, you are 19 times more likely to die riding a bike on the roads than driving on them.

        If the infrastructure supported it, then I'd consider it, but frankly the demand for it simply isn't anywhere near high enough to justify the billions in spending it would require and ultimately having a bunch of bikes alongside cars, trucks and buses makes MUCH less sense than having bikes and pedestrians sharing a space.

      And my daily commute would be a hell of a lot easier and faster without cars on the roads.

      Yes, I said a stupid thing, I hope it helped point out the other stupid thing that was said.

      Now, for the less facetious reply, even if at a slight tangent.

      How much space is taken by 69 cyclists.

      http://www.danielbowen.com/2012/09/19/road-space-photo/

      So think, you want those bikes off the road, you know they'll mostly turn into cars, and slow your commute down even more than a bike would.

        A bir of a rant coming up here.
        The ACT has the best cycling facilities of any town I've lived in. However, it also has a group of cyclists who believe that it's their own personal Tour de France training track around the lake. Anyone just wanting a pleasant cycle around the lake can be overtaken by people doing 60kph plus together with an abusive yell over their shoulder.

        Guys (and gals?), if you want to do that speed through packs of walkers and tiny tot riders, get out on the road.

        Thank you - I shall now get baxk in my foxhole.

        I didn't say all of the cyclists should swap their bikes for cars, not sure how you got there, especially considering how the title of the article specifically mentions 'Bikes On Footpaths...'

        What I would like is to see the bicycles moved from the road, somewhere else, perhaps say, the footpath (or better yet, dedicated cycle ways).

        Glad you know that sometimes, you say stupid things.

          > (or better yet, dedicated cycle ways).

          Sydney CIty Council has tried doing this and cops nothing but abuse from motorists for it - since the cycle lanes are typically installed at the price of one traffic lane.

          Of course these have their own risks - one rainy night a few years ago I took a flying fall when I tripped on a cycle barrier when hurrying across the road on the rain and chipped my shoulder blade. Required an operation and six months of physio to fix.

      You are a tool.

      That is a crazy statement. You are clearly a typical 'big car Australian'.

      'The amount of traffic problems caused by cyclists'. Facts please?

        Did you see how I explained what I meant by problems - maybe you should head back up there and read that.

        Also, I'm a Kiwi and I drive a Mini.

          Right, well I was replying to your first statement, not your retraction.

          ;)

      Silly argument. Bikes don't cause traffic jams. When was the last time you were listening to the traffic report on the way to work and heard that a cyclist was causing a traffic jam? The major cause of traffic congestion are the hordes of single-occupant vehicles on the road. Cars that are designed to transport 4+ people are instead being used to transport only a single person. Result? At least 4 times as many cars on the road as there needs to be.

      If everyone who lived <10-15km from work rode a bike then that would instantly solve the majority of traffic congestion issues.

      If only the footpaths in Sydney could support the bikes. I used to run to work through Sydney and I've got to say I've seen better foot paths traversing the blue Mountains. I tripped on em more than a few times. And... the "bike paths" in this town are torturious snake paths winding their way over hill and dale. My daily commute would be a hell of a lot safer if we could get cars off the road.

      The amount of traffic problems caused by bikes on the road is enormous.

      Compared to the amount of traffic problems caused by cars on the road? Ha! Nice try.

      At least if you're in a car you can't be physically damaged by cyclists.

    Good to know... I always wondered if it was illegal, or just stupid, whenever I'd see an adult on a bike on the footpath (I'm in VIC). Worse still, it seems to often happen even when there's a bike lane on the road...

    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.

    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.

    Interesting. So next time I'm walking on a footpath and a cyclist dings their bell at me to move over, I'm within my legal rights to not move and make them go around me. Or tell them to not ride on the footpath at all and get onto the road like they should be doing.

      They don't ding their bells in Queensland. That's far too uncool. They just zoom past (from whatever direction) in total silence and zero regard for anybody but themselves.

      The bell ring is not telling you to move over, it's a courtesy so you are aware you are about to be passed and don't freak out or make any sudden movements.
      You have no obligation to move. it's normally better if you just stay on your current course.

      The bell-dinging is a polite notification that they're coming up behind you, so that you don't get yourself hurt by veering unexpectedly into their path at the last moment.

      You're within your legal rights to be a douche about it, yes, but everyone's day will be far more pleasant if you aren't.

        i've had my share fare of skate hating cyclists yelling over there shoulder at me and my skater friends.

        First of let me say in perth we have a path way all the way around part of the Swan River and on the south side there is 2 footh paths one is a dedicated cycle way the other is a footpath however the footpath is to small to skate as you need at least a meter over all to skate comfortably (to kick of with) so naturally we have to use the bigger cycleway but i've had a cyclist (the same one twice) telling us to move (i understand where he's coming from i cycle too) but i'm also a skater and now i found this article i was even thinking of printing it out just to show the cyclist i'm also sure if i did that more cyclists would hate skaters even more

        ps. when i say skaters i mean skateboarder, bladers and quad skaters

    Does anyone know if it is legal to park a motorbike on the footpath? I see them parked there all the time in Queensland.

      Parking anything across the footpath is illegal in QLD.

      Totally legal in Victoria, as long as you don't block access.

      http://www.vicroads.vic.gov.au/NR/rdonlyres/B206BFE3-EFE9-4726-B665-FBC0843E7525/0/TR2001102.pdf

    Waitwaitwaitwaitwaitwait...

    *THANKFULLY* shared paths are becoming more common? I think the question that really needs to be answered is why cyclists who ride in pedestrian areas and on footpaths are permitted to live. Not that I'm proposing government-funded firing squads, you understand - simply that anyone who rides on the footpath is able to be clubbed to death by anyone who cares to, that their descendants are forcibly sterilised and that their property is forfeited to whoever was community-minded enough to put them out of everyone's misery.

    The sooner all pedestrians are walking around with metal pipes that can be shoved between the spokes of any idiot who thinks it's a great thing to do 30 kph on a footpath, the better.

      Exactly what part of "shared path" do you not understand?

      So how many times have bikes run into you?

        Living near a "shared path" - I understand it, cyclists don't; they seem to think it means that they have right of way rather than realising that, as a vehicle, they have to yield to _all_ pedestrian traffic - I've been hit a number of times. Only one of them left me needing knee surgery, and that was a hit and run, but I've never known a bike rider on a footpath that deserves to live.

          I'm sorry to hear about your knee, but not at all surprised. Some moronic lycra warrior tried to shoulder-charge me off the concrete path not so long ago, because "he wanted the concrete".

          When challenged, he said I should read the rules. Which I have, and the only rule he obeys is "Be predictable" - he's predictably an idiot.

          There are about two cyclists in Brisbane, in my experience over the last 5-6 years, who aren't afraid to use their bells, so I feel for them. But unfortunately they're a statistically insignificant minority.

          So I fully support your original post (I wish I'd said that), and I'll be nominating you for Australian Of The Year.

          In summary: The situation in Queensland (certainly in Brisbane) is completely broken and totally un-policed. The vast majority of cyclists seem to have the mental age, and certainly the manners, of a 3-y-o. And shouldn't be let out of the house on a bicycle, let alone on a footpath or road.

          I do wish we had the laws of most of the rest of the country!

          Shame he didn't finish the job.

    Wish the other states would adopt the ACT/QLD rules and allow cyclists on the footpath/sidewalk/pavement... I'd much rather share with a few pedestrians than a 20t bus/truck....

      There is no reasonable way way i can do my daily commute with going on some footpaths. This is because of one way roads and un linked bike paths.

        Sorry posted to early.
        Sharing footpaths is safe. bikes need to give way to people on foot. People walking need to listen out for "passing on your right" or bells and please lift your head up and turn your ipod down. And its always nice when people keep there lines so we can go around you without hesitating.

      i agree i reckon all cycle way's should be shared paths have you even been on a road and have a semi-truck pass you well i have and its not good i admit it was on a highway but i did it once and that cemented my thinking to the above statment

    I do 14km/hr and am a danger to myself and cars when on the road. I just don't have the reaction time to go faster than that. Thanks, Australia, for making it impossible for me to indulge in my favorite form of healthy recreation unless I take my bike and myself out on the train to the bush.

    Maybe all cyclists should be allowed to use footpaths as long as they are not males with shaved legs dressed in lycra. That should eliminate most of the troublemakers.

    I ride the Sydney roads every day. I would take the officially sanctioned bike roads, but who ever planned these has obviously never sat on a bike. Or they really really like winding hills with heaps of round-abouts. The road is a death trap at times. BUSSES often swoosh inches from my bars. And who decided sewer grates should be the exact same angle and thickness as my traveling bike tire? I love that guy!
    Foot paths should be legal for bikes; at times they are the only safe option. Respect for walkers is a must. We share the space.... put up a few signs telling the agressive cyclist that they need to yield and perhaps they'd realize they are jerks. Myself, I ring, and slow down. I fully stop and get off if there are kids or oldies'...

    Safest option for all should be legal.

    I hate bikes on footpaths! They are dangerous and the riders are usually arrogant ****s who go way too fast. Often, when it suits them, they ride the wrong way down one-way streets, break every traffic rule, then they're back onto the footpath annoying pedestrians again. These people should not be on either roads or footpaths because they have no respect for any rule or any other person. End rant.

    I'm glad none of you people exist in the real world.

    I regularly ride on the footpath in Victoria when I consider it unsafe to ride on the roads. I live near Toorak Road and only a lunatic would ride a bicycle along that - there's a so-called 'cycle lane' marked on which cars are actually permitted to park - how ridiculous is that? Anyway, I'd rather pay a fine than be crippled and dealing with hefty hospital bills.

    Why the hell should we be forced to ride on the road with the psychotic motorists?

    I got hit by a car when I was a kid, it was not fucking fun and I don't treasure the thought of it happening again. I've been nearly hit dozens of times since then too because of motorists that don't know how to friggin drive, so why should I be forced to put my life in their friggin hands!?

    Cycling Lanes might be a comfort if cars weren't allowed to park and merge with them to turn.

    How about instead of penalising Cyclists that are at greater friggin risk of death, we educate motorists into not being fucking assholes.

    Cyclists should be allowed to ride on footpaths!

    for anyone in vic looking for the specific law that allows people with physical, mental or intellectual disabilities to ride on the footpath. I have it in a google doc along with the law on electric motor assisted bikes (200W btw) https://docs.google.com/document/d/1wz_TEZS13DPsOMNLSJ6U1GU_Xx4t8EgfpZg1rAwppJg/edit?usp=sharing

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