The little-known cycling road rule which could see you fined hundreds

Cyclists have to observe a number of rules on the road as do drivers sharing the road with them.

In Queensland, you need to keep a gap when overtaking cyclists in a car or truck. While riding a bike side-by-side with another cyclist is not only legal but also widely encouraged – even though not everyone agrees with it.

As summer sets in a common sight on roads and paths may be people walking their dog while riding a bike. But did you know it’s illegal to ride your bike with your dog on a leash, and can lead to a big fine?

How much can I be fined for cycling while walking my dog?

In Queensland, it’s a minimum penalty of $133.45 and a maximum of more than $2600.

Queensland Police Senior Constable Diana Kratochvil wrote in a blog post, police can issue an “on the spot fine”.

A female and male cyclist accompanied by a dog ride on a path in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. Source: Moritz Frankenberg/picture alliance via Getty Images.
It is illegal in Australia to tie your dog to your bike while riding. Source: Getty Images.

“We urge dog owners to be more mindful of their pet’s safety and consider other users of public spaces. You must have proper control of your dog, at all times,” Snr Cst Kratochvil wrote.

“When you and your dog are out in public you must walk your dog on a leash unless you are within a designated dog off-leash enclosure or park.

“It is important to exercise your dog but not while riding your bicycle as it is an unsafe practice for you, your dog and others.”

The Queensland Transport Operations Regulation says: “The rider of a bicycle must not lead an animal, including by tethering the animal to the bicycle.”

A South Australia Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure spokesperson told Yahoo News Australia in a statement it’s illegal there too.

“It is an offence to lead an animal while riding a bike, as per Road Rule 301(3),” the spokesperson said.

“The fee for breaking this rule is $60, plus a $60 payment to the Victims of Crime levy.”

A Cocker Spaniel puppy pulling on a lead.
The fine for cycling while your dog is on a leash varies for each state. Source: Getty Images (file pic)

Break the law in NSW, and you could be slugged with a $76 fine. Challenge it in court and lose and it could go up to $2200.

In Tasmania, it’s a minimum of $163 and a maximum of $815.

Commit the offence in Western Australia and you could cop a fine between $50-$100.

Do it in Victoria, and it’s a far heftier fine of more than $480.

It’s also illegal in the Northern Territory but the law doesn’t state what the fine is.

Is it safe to take your dog cycling?

It’s a law that not everyone agrees with. The US vet-approved Pet MD website says if you think your dog actually has the energy and stamina to trot alongside you as you bike, it is great exercise.

It does advise several safety tips including have a leash long enough not to get caught in the wheels, but such precautions still make the activity illegal in Australian jurisdictions.

The matter was discussed in the Australian whirlpool forum with some pet owners unaware the practice of running your dog from a lead while riding a bike is illegal. While others talk about mishaps while trying to run the dog alongside the bike.

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“I had my dog stop in front of me, hit him so hard the front wheel of my bike buckled,” one person explained.

“My boxer decided to go one side of a telegraph (power) pole, and me the other,” was another dog owner’s experience.

A couple of people on the forum advised the only safe way to take a dog on a bike ride was to attach a trailer. Others simply suggested taking the dog for a walk before going for a bike ride.

A group of women walking their dogs.
Some people have suggested there are better ways to give your dog exercise. Source: Getty Images (file pic)

An RSPCA NSW spokesperson discouraged cyclists taking their dog with them while cycling.

“Pet owners should avoid forced exercise, including running your pet alongside a bicycle. In some states, including New South Wales, it is against the road rules to lead an animal by tethering while operating a vehicle,” the spokesperson said.

“The high intensity sustained exercise can overexert dogs.

“Dogs should have opportunities to run freely in a dog park off-leash and this enables them to regulate the duration and intensity of the running themselves. Speak to your vet for details and for advice on exercise options for your particular dog.”

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