Recently the Queensland Government has turned its attention to the other bike riders in Queensland, the cyclists. A parliamentary committee has advised the Queensland Government on a range of potential changes to the current laws in regards to cyclists.
In Queensland the Transport Operations (Road Use Management-Road Rules) Regulation 2009 governs the rights and responsibilities of cyclists. Under Section 15, bicycles are considered a vehicle and as such riders have similar rights and responsibilities to vehicle operators, a notable exception is that bicycles are exempt from registration.
A rider is required to acquaint themselves with the Queensland Road User Rules and obey traffic rules and road signs. Amongst other requirements, a cyclist must:
- Observe traffic regulations and road signs just like all other vehicles on the road;
- Use the bike path at all times, unless prohibited;
- Observe the speed limit;
- Wear visible clothing and use reflectors and lights at night;
- Wear a helmet that meets the Australian Standards for an approved helmet (Rule 256);
- Keep the bicycle in good working condition at all times and have at least one effective brake and a warning device such as bell or horn (Rule 258); and
- Maintain a distance of at least 2 metres from the rear when following another motor vehicle for more than 200 metres (Rule 255).
In Queensland a helmet is mandatory for all ages. Under Section 256, the rider and any passenger must wear an approved bicycle helmet securely fitted and fastened to their head at all times. The law applies to all ages, however for children 10 to 16 years old, fines are imposed upon the third violation only.
A person can only be exempted from wearing helmet for medical reasons or for some physical reasons that make it unreasonable to wear a helmet.
The Queensland Government however has recently stated that religious believers who by reason of their religious belief wear a headdress (for example a turban) as part of their religious practice will be soon exempt from helmet laws.
The decision to provide this exemption originated from the outcome of a case against Mr Jasdeep Atwal. Mr Atwal is of the Sikh faith and challenged the $100 ticket issued to him for non-wearing of a helmet.
Practicing members of the Sikh religion do not cut their hair. Instead, their hair is wrapped up in a turban, which makes it practically impossible for them to wear a helmet.
In March, Atwal was found guilty of failing to wear a helmet, but he was not fined nor was he convicted of the offence. The decision led to the government’s proposal to amend the Helmet law in April 2013.
The Proposed ‘One-Metre Rule’
With the rise of road fatalities and serious injuries involving bicycles in Queensland, the Queensland Government has considered the adoption of new regulations at the suggestion of the parliamentary committee.
Some of the changes the parliamentary committee has proposed include:
The proposal to impose a ‘one-metre rule’ between motorists and cyclists to prevent road accidents.
Transport and Main Roads Minister Scott Emerson said Parliament’s Transport, Housing and Local Government committee would review and consider the possibility of passing the law.“There has been a lot of focus recently on bike safety and I’ve listened to that feedback and decided to take a closer look at the evidence and laws,” Mr Emerson said.
The proposal to a two-year trial mandatory ‘no-helmet’ policy for cyclists aged over 16 years in less risky areas.
Increasing fines for cyclists
The committee recommended that fines should be increased to match those that apply to motorists.
Overtaking and Stop Sign changes
The proposed changes would see that cyclists are only required to slow down at a stop sign, and not required to stop.
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