'It's plain dangerous': The bicycle road rule enraging motorists

Motorists are stunned to learn side-by-side bicycle riding is not only legal across the country – but it’s actually encouraged by our road authorities.

While it might not be breaking news for regular cyclists, many drivers have been outraged by the suggestion VicRoads shared to its Facebook followers on Friday.

VicRoads shared this educational graphic explaining 'two abreast' side-by-side bicycle riding is permitted.
Side-by-side bicycle riding is not only legal across the country, but it’s actually encouraged by our road authorities. Source: VicRoads

“Yep, it's 100% legal and can be safer to do so,” the Victorian road authority posted with the graphic.

“If they are riding more than 2 abreast, it should only be on a multilane road, where a vehicle can easily overtake the group in another lane,” it added.

A review of the bicycle road rules across the country revealed up to two cyclists are permitted to ride beside one another in Victoria, South Australia, NSW, Queensland, Western Australia, Tasmania, ACT and the Northern Territory.

What are the rules of riding side-by-side?

The practice is called “riding two abreast” and is permitted as long as cyclists don’t ride beside more than one other cyclist, unless overtaking.

Nation-wide rules specify side-by-side cyclists must travel within 1.5 metres of one another. It is also recommended they travel as close together as safe to do so.

“When riding two abreast, consider other road users and if necessary, change to single file to help drivers overtake safely,” VicRoads recommended.

The transport authority added that motorists should only overtake bikes when it is safe and legal to do so.

Riding two abreast is encouraged to increase visibility for motorists. Source: Getty, file
Riding two abreast is encouraged to increase visibility for motorists. Source: Getty, file

“After overtaking, make sure you’re well clear of the cyclists before moving back,” it advised.

The Government of South Australia also stated cyclists could legally ride two abreast.

“Be patient as you approach and overtake only when safe,” it said.

Transport Canberra cautioned those riding side-by-side to “exercise consideration and courtesy for other road users”.

West Australian road rules protect cyclists even further, where motorists need to allow riders one-metre distance in zones 60 km/h or less, and 1.5 metres where speeds are above 60km/h.

This is also the legislation in Queensland, with a Brisbane cyclist recently ensuring motorists adhere to the rule with a pool noodle affixed to his bike.

Motorists label riding two-abreast ‘dangerous’

Despite cyclists nationwide being granted permission to ride side-by-side, hundreds of motorists lambasted the idea on the VicRoads Facebook thread.

"This is bs," one wrote.

"It's just plain dangerous for the bike riders, and to get past the morons you have to cross double lines etc," another agreed.

A third added: “Not everyone has the patience! I clearly have very little when cyclists are moving very slowly. Sometimes people overtake on the inside and this leaves cyclists very vulnerable 2 a breast.”

However the Victorian road authority advised side-by-side riding was actually safer.

“Riding two abreast can increase the visibility of bicycle riders. It also means they are less likely to be squeezed into the road edge by drivers, particularly on roads where there are hazards such as a steep drop,” it responded on social media.

“However, while our laws do permit bicycle riders to ride side-by-side we do urge them to be considerate to other road users and move into single file when it is safe to enable vehicles to pass.”

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