The golden rule: courtesy and safety always

Cyclists should take a whole lane when approaching a roundabout and make their intentions very clear.

Cyclists should take a whole lane when approaching a roundabout and make their intentions very clear.

One of the many joys of being a dad is teaching your children to drive a car.  Even though we had taught our children to drive on farm at a very early age when it came time get their licences we employed a driving instructor.

We had taught them many aspects of using gears, braking and keeping control of the car in a straight-line and in difficulties to remain composed and not to overreact.  The driving instructor added the aspects that keep them within the road rules and their application to sharing the road safely.  Things like checking mirrors and head check over the shoulder prior  to making any decisions of changing speed by braking or using indicators for a directional change into another lane or at an intersection. 

As cyclist we need to adopt such safety controls and courtesies in sharing the road.  It would be fair to say that most drivers that are sitting at an intersection are mindful of what is oncoming and less concerned about any vehicles that are behind them.  They are in a stationary mode and it is not likely for a vehicle to try to come up the inside of them, this is most prevalent at a traffic light controlled intersection or a roundabout where drivers are focused on getting through the intersection and avoid any confrontation with a oncoming vehicle.

We as cyclist can have an intimidating effect on motorists when we pass on the inside in a close proximity.  When vehicles pass cyclists we are appreciative of being giving the courtesy of the minimum safety distance of no less than 1 metre yet don’t necessarily abide by this same courtesy when we make the pass up the left hand side and at times cut a very fine line of clearance. By law unlike other vehicles, cyclists may pass to the left of a vehicle unless it is turning left and signalling. A motorist making a left hand turn with indicator on is not expecting a cyclist to come flashing up then inside passing nor should they have to.

Things can be a little different at a roundabout. Cyclists may make a right turn at a multi-lane roundabout from either the left lane or the right lane. If choosing to make the turn from the left lane, cyclists must give way to vehicles crossing their path to leave the roundabout.  For safety at roundabouts it is better for cyclists to fill the lane as a vehicle and wait their turn to complete the safe entry and exit of the intersection.

Specific rules apply as to who has to give way when a bike (either in a bike lane or riding along the edge of the road) is going straight ahead and a car is turning left. The vehicle that is further behind must give way. If a car ahead of the cyclist indicates a left hand turn the cyclist must let the car make the left hand turn.

Vic Roads Rule 141 (2) refers to bicycles not overtaking on the left side of vehicles indicating that they are turning left. If the cyclist is ahead of the car, the car must wait for the cyclist. A car driver who speeds up and tries to cut in front of the cyclists is in effect breaking rule 144. Rule 144 refers to motorist overtaking: they must keep a safe distance and not cause a collision with the vehicle they are overtaking (e.g. a bicycle) or obstruct the path of that vehicle.

Even though cyclist are excepted from giving a stop signal even so like the driver instructor made very clear all other changes of direction should be accompanied with a  head check and indication of the intent to making a change of direction within a lane or at intersection prior to doing with a hand signal. Please adopt and apply these few basic golden rules to make sharing the road less stressful and more enjoying for all shared road users.

See you on the road soon God willing

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