Cycling 101: Riding Two Abreast Explained
Cyclists have featured prominently in recent mainstream media after a shocking collision was caught on camera.
The serious incident occurred near Newcastle in NSW and involved a vehicle hitting the lead rider of a local bunch. The impact caused several riders to come down, many were injured, fortunately all survived the horror ordeal.
Video of the incident went viral on social media and yes, the typical 'pay rego', 'get off the road' and 'ride single file' comments proliferated most posts.
With this in mind, and with more riders out and about as we head into 'a summer at home', we thought it timely to offer a refresher on the reasons we ride two abreast.
Five Reasons To Ride Two Abreast
- Riders are more visible to motorists approaching from behind and ahead. If cyclists are in a single file they are less visible.
- Riding two abreast means riders are taking up less length making it is easier to for vehicles to overtake.
- Riding two abreast decreases the length and compresses the size of the bunch leading to better efficiency.
- Drivers can be tempted to overtake single file riders in areas it may not be safe to do so - for example on bends.
- Cyclists are legally entitled to ride two abreast providing they stay no more than 1.5 metres apart.
Obviously courtesy on the roads is a two-way street. It pays to remain vigilant, go single, and allow traffic to pass when deemed safe to do so.
The Queensland Government Position & The Law
Steadily developing into one of the more proactive and supportive governments for the protection of cyclists rights, the Queensland Government have recently been mailing out vehicle registration details complete with the ‘Share The Road’ message printed on the back of envelopes.
The Queensland Government website bolsters that stance with the following information -
Sharing the road with bicycle riders
Bicycles are a type of vehicle and bicycle riders and motorists have the same rights and responsibilities when using the road.
Laws for motorists passing bicycle riders
Motorists must stay wider of bicycle riders by giving a minimum of:
- 1m when passing a bicycle rider in a 60km/h or less speed zone or
- 1.5m where the speed limit is over 60km/h.
Passing a bicycle rider means that you (as a motorist) and the bicycle rider are travelling in the same direction. This includes when you are travelling side-by-side in separate lanes on a multi-lane road. It does not apply if you are travelling in opposite directions.
The passing distance is measured from:
- The rightmost part of the bicycle, or the person on the bicycle to
- The leftmost part of the vehicle, or something sticking out from the vehicle (e.g. a side mirror).
The minimum passing distance applies even if the bicycle rider is riding around an obstacle.
These road rules apply to all motor vehicles—including cars, motorcycles, heavy vehicles and public transport vehicles.
Crossing lines to pass a bicycle rider
To pass a bicycle rider—as long as it is safe to do so—you are allowed to:
- drive over centre lines (including double unbroken centre lines) on a 2-way road
- straddle or cross a lane line (including a continuous lane line) on a multi-lane road
- drive on a painted island.
If it is not safe to pass a bicycle rider, you must wait until it is safe to pass.
Indicating when passing
Drivers must indicate when passing bicycle riders if they need to change their position on the road.
- Indicate 'right' long enough to warn other road users that you are about to veer right to pass a bicycle rider
- Then indicate 'left' when you have passed the bicycle rider and are returning to your original position on the road.
You must indicate if you need to change your position on the road, even if you do not need to cross the centre or lane lines.
Passing 2 bicycle riders riding side-by-side
If you want to pass 2 bicycle riders that are riding next to each other, the minimum passing distance applies to the bicycle rider closest to the right. It is legal for 2 bicycle riders to ride side-by-side on a road, as long as they are not more than 1.5m apart.
Check your blind spots
Bicycle riders are much smaller than cars and heavy vehicles, so they are harder to see. Check your blind spots before changing lanes, turning or when you open your car door.
Make sure you treat bicycle riders like any other vehicles on the road. Give way to them when required and travel at a safe following distance.
As a motorist, you will get 3 demerit points and a $378 fine if you do not give the minimum distance when you pass a bicycle rider. If the matter goes to court, a maximum fine of more than $5,000 can apply.
Be patient and considerate
Watch out for bicycle riders at all times, but especially at night, dawn or dusk. Be considerate and dip your headlights when approaching a bicycle rider at night.
Be patient. If it isn't safe to pass a bicycle rider, wait until it is safe. This should not hold you up for long and it could save the bicycle rider's life.
Turning left behind a bicycle rider
If a bicycle rider is ahead of you and you want to turn left, turn behind the bicycle rider. Overtaking and cutting off the bicycle rider is very dangerous.
Wet weather can cause the road to become oily or slippery and reduce visibility, so be extra careful around bicycle riders at these times.
Key things to remember as a driver
Always use your common sense, obey the road rules and remember:
- Check your surroundings and the vehicles around you.
- If it is safe, indicate and pass the bicycle rider at the minimum distance.
- If it is not safe, slow down and wait until it is safe for you to pass.
Your Thoughts: We are keen to hear your thoughts on this. Have your say below.