Cyclists riding on the road at normal speed are not breaking any rules about obstructing traffic.
This idea that cyclists should be fined because they were obstructing traffic – ie cars – was floated by a number of people on the Mercury’s Facebook page in response to two stories about a change to the road roads.
The original story dealt with the new law that required motorists to leave at least a one-metre gap when overtaking cyclists.
A second story highlighted comments made by some motorists that suggested they would run over cyclists if they saw them on the road.
Regarding the anger directed at cyclists sharing the road, the Centre For Road Safety executive director Bernard Carlon called for a show of a respect from all road users.
“Bicycles have little protection compared to motor vehicles, making bicycle riders more vulnerable in a crash,” Mr Carlon said.
Several people left comments on the Mercury’s Facebook page insisting cyclists were breaking some sort of rule about obstruction, Transport for NSW said that was not the case.
There is a law that deals with obstruction that states people must not “unreasonably obstruct” other road users.
But it doesn’t mean cyclists are breaking the law by travelling slower than a car.
In fact, the rule specifically states that moving slower than other vehicles is not an instance of unreasonably obstructing traffic.
In a similar vein, the law states cyclists – and other road users – cannot ride tightly together in one long line.
This is because they must leave sufficient distance behind a vehicle (which includes a cycle) in front of them so they can stop safely to avoid a collision.
They can, however, ride two abreast but must be no more than 1.5 metres apart.
Some commenters made the claim that is was illegal to ride on the road when there was a shared pathway running alongside it.
Those cyclists looking to travel at speed tend to avoid cycleways because of the safety risks of sharing a pathway with pedestrians.
According to the road rules, there is no requirement for a cyclist to use a shared pathway rather than the road if one is available.
However, there is a rule that requires bicycle riders to use a marked bicycle lane – which is distinct from a shared pathway as it is still on the road – if it heads in the direction they wanted to go.
Other Facebook posters suggested it was now legal for cyclists to lane filter between lines of stationary traffic to get to the front of the line.
This is incorrect – the new lane filtering laws only apply to motorcycles.
Bicycles are still required to ride completely in a marked lane and not along a divided line separating two lanes.