While some drivers may find it frustrating, there are more and more cyclists on our roads with every year and motorists need to be mindful of them or be ready to face hefty penalties.
One location where friction often arises between motorists and cyclists is at traffic lights as they grapple for space while waiting for the green signal.
Some drivers don't realise that there are specific spaces allocated for cyclists at traffic lights, located either to the side or in front of stationary cars.
Drivers need to give cyclists plenty of space at the lights and anyone who doesn’t could find themselves on the end of some rather harsh penalties. So just how much could this mistake cost you?
An unauthorised entry
The rules say drivers must give cyclists space at the lights and are banned from entering specially designated bicycle areas at the lights which are known as bicycle storage areas.
Bicycle storage areas occur anywhere where a cycle path intersects with a traffic light junction and the path extends into a specially marked area between the lights and the stop line for cars.
The zones are generally marked by thick white lines along the entire width of the lane for traffic travelling in that particular direction.
They may also featured a coloured road surface (such as green or red) to also indicate the area reserved for bikes.
It’s an action that has been incorporated into the Australian Road Rules as Rule 60A and has been universally adopted by all states across Australia.
Costly error in judgment
Australian authorities rarely take infringements at traffic lights lightly and this rule is no exception, with severe penalties awaiting anyone who is caught breaking them.
Offending drivers should not be surprised to find themselves getting hit with both big fines and demerit points on their licence if they get caught. Some of the possible penalties awaiting drivers include:
NSW: In New South Wales, drivers who stop within a bicycle storage zone face a penalty combination of a $464 fine and three demerit points added to their licence.
VIC: Any drivers in Victoria found breaking rule 60A will find themselves getting hit with a $363 fine as well as three demerit points on their licence.
QLD: Over in Queensland, anyone found stopped in dedicated bicycle areas at a set of lights will be given three demerits points and a $413 fine by the cops.
SA: With South Australia’s $92 levy for anyone caught committing an offence, drivers found stopped in a bicycle storage area earn themselves a combined fine of $488 as well as three demerit points to their licence.
WA: Western Australia drivers find themselves getting slightly less strict penalties than in Eastern Australia as drivers caught breaching Rule 60A cop a $200 fine as well as two demerit points for their troubles.
TAS: If you are caught stopped in a bicycle storage area at any set of lights in Tasmania, drivers can look forward to a fine of $173 as well as three demerit points being added to their licence.
ACT: Should anyone get caught breaking these rules on roads around Canberra, drivers can look forward to a fine of $491 as well as being issued with three demerit points.
NT: In the Northern Territory, entering a bicycle storage area is seen as a general offence so drivers will be issued with a fine of one penalty unit ($157).
As you can see, the authorities take no chances when it comes to giving cyclists plenty of protection against cars even if all vehicles are stationary on the road.
However, with more and more cyclists appearing on the roads every year, it pays for drivers to pay strict attention when pulling up to a set of lights to ensure everyone around them is given proper room to be safe on Australian roads.
Do you have a story tip? Email: email@example.com.