Be on the safe side
Follow these tips for a safer journey on shared paths and roads:
Make yourself visible
Always wear a helmet, ensure your bike is fitted with working lights and wear bright, light or reflective clothing. Wearing a reflective vest, particularly in low-light conditions, is a good idea.
Use the lane
Sometimes the safest way to deal with traffic is to ride in the centre of the lane. This will generally give you room to avoid drains, gutters and car doors and maximise your sight lines.
Watch for car doors
Don't rely on car drivers and passengers to see you.
Be careful near driveways
When riding on footpaths and shared paths on the footway, watch out for cars reversing out of or turning into driveways.
Plan your route
Choose a route that suits your ability and confidence. Even though they may not be marked as bike routes, there are many streets in Newcastle that have low traffic volumes, relatively low speeds and are great for riding.
Ride in a predictable manner
Obey the road rules, give hand signals and stay in control of your bike.
Choose your travel time carefully
If possible, avoid early morning and late afternoon rush hours.
Share the road
Whether you drive or ride, the road is there to share. Follow these simple tips and road rules to ensure everyone has a safe journey.
Know the road rules
Under the road rules, a bicycle is a vehicle. As a rider, you must obey the road rules, including stopping at red lights and stop signs, giving way as indicated by road signs and not riding across a crossing (unless bicycle crossing lights are installed).
Bike riders can:
- Take up a whole traffic lane
- Ride two abreast, but not more than 1.5 metres apart
- Ride in bus lanes (unless marked as 'Buses Only') and transit lanes
- Overtake on the left of stopped and slow moving vehicles (unless the vehicle is indicating and turning left)
- Ride to the left of a continuous white edge line.
Bike riders have a number of responsibilities when riding. These include:
- Riders must wear an approved bicycle helmet securely fitted and fastened on the rider's head
- Riders must not ride a bicycle that does not have at least one effective brake and a fully functioning bell, horn or similar warning device
- Bike riders must face forward and ride with at least one hand on the handlebars
- When in the left lane of a multi-lane roundabout and wanting to turn right, bicycle riders must give way to any vehicle leaving the roundabout
- Bicycle riders must not carry more people on a bike than it is designed for
- Bicycle riders must keep to the left of any oncoming bicycle rider or pedestrian on a footpath, shared path or separated path
- When a bicycle lane is marked on the road and has bicycle lane signs, cyclists must use it unless it is impractical to do so
- Bicycle riders must not ride a bicycle at night or in hazardous weather conditions unless the bike displays a flashing or steady white light from the front, and a flashing or steady red light from the rear. The bike also requires a red reflector which is visible from the rear.
- Riders must give a hand signal when turning right or merging into the right lane.
There are a few things drivers can do to keep everyone safe as well:
- Watch out for cyclists - they are smaller than cars and harder to see.
- Be considerate to cyclists - they have equal rights to share the road. Riders can use the full width of the lane and are allowed to ride two abreast.
- Be patient and give cyclists plenty of room when overtaking or turning. Drivers who pass a bike rider must allow a distance of at least one metre at speeds of 60km/h or less and 1.5m at higher speeds. Wait behind the cyclist if necessary until it is safe to pass.
- Be cautious and slow down around children on bikes - they can be unpredictable.
- Travel the legal, safe distance behind cyclists and cars in front of you. This is equal to three seconds.
- When parked on the road, check for cyclists before opening your car door.
- And don't forget to look out for cyclists when pulling into and out of your driveway.
- Visit the NSW Centre for Road Safety website for more information.
Riding on footpaths
Generally, bicycle riders must not ride on a footpath. However, children under the age of 16 years can ride on the footpath unless there is a NO BICYCLES sign. The NSW road rules state:
The rider of a bicycle who is 16 years old or older must not ride on a footpath unless:
- if the rider is an adult—the rider is accompanying a child under 16 years of age who is riding on the footpath and the child is under the rider’s supervision, or
- if the rider is not an adult—the rider is accompanying a child under 16 years of age who is riding on the footpath under the supervision of an adult and the rider is also under the supervision of the adult.
For more information on the road rules, go to the NSW legislation website.
Share the path
Shared paths are identified by signage with images of a pedestrian and a bike. They provide a great way to get around for cyclists and pedestrians, whether you walk, run, roll or ride.
Follow these simple tips to keep our shared paths safe for everyone.
When riding on a shared path, always make sure you:
- Give way to pedestrians
- Provide pedestrians with a metre of space when passing
- Keep to the left
- Use your bell to warn others when you are approaching
- Be careful around young children and dogs, as they are often unpredictable in their movements
- Travel at a safe speed so you can stop within a safe distance of pedestrians on the path
There are a few things pedestrians can do to stay safe too:
- Keep to the left of any dividing line, or left of the path centre and walk in a predictable manner
- Keep animals on short leads and under control and ensure children are well-supervised
- Move off the path if you wish to stop
- Use audio devices at low volume so you can hear what is going on around you
- Cyclists will call out or ring their bell when they are about to pass. It is a sign of courtesy, not a command to move off the path, but please move to the left and allow the bike to pass.