Cycling in Australia

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Cycling in Australia is a common form of transport, recreation and sport. Many Australians enjoy cycling because it improves their health and reduces road congestion and air pollution.[citation needed] The government has encouraged more people to start, with several state advertising campaigns aimed at increasing safety for those who choose to ride. There is a common perception that riding is a dangerous activity.[citation needed] While it is safer to walk, cycling is a safer method of transport than driving.[1] Cycling is less popular in Australia than in Europe, however cyclists make up one in forty road deaths and one in seven serious injuries.[2]

In 2020, 1.7 million bicycle were sold[3]


A goldminer pictured after a 1000-mile (1,600-kilometre) round trip to the Mt Rugged Gold Rush in 1895

Bicycles arrived in Australia in 1860s, and the sport was quickly adopted with touring and racing clubs forming.[4]

By the 1890s cycling was accessible to the middle class, and long distance cycle travelling was a fact of life for many sheep shearers and other agricultural labourers with migratory work.[5] The bicycle and swag travelled much of Australia on dusty dirt tracks, long before the automobile made its appearance. In the main, however, long distance cycling was a sport of endurance or was done out of necessity.

At the same time, racing became quite popular with the Austral Wheel Race beginning in 1887, and leading to the development of the Malvern Star cycling brand.[6] The first Melbourne to Warrnambool Classic, a long distance event, was held in October 1895, eight years before the first Tour de France.

Between 1990 and 1992 Australia become the first country to make wearing helmets compulsory, after a number of studies indicated that they reduced head injuries.[7] After their introduction, the overall number of riders decreased, mostly due to a decline in children riding to school. This has not conclusively shown to be due to mandatory helmet laws and may have followed pre-existing trends dating from the 1970s.[8][9][10]


Cycling participation in Australia in 2015[11]

Cyclists in every state are required to follow normal road rules, including using traffic lights correctly and observing give way and stop signs while riding on the road.

Cyclists in every state must wear helmets while in motion. In all states, cyclists must ride as close as practicable to the left side of the road when on a single lane road, however, cyclists may use any lane and does not have to keep to the left on a multi-lane road. All states require only one passenger per bicycle unless the bicycle is designed otherwise.

Bike users in Western Australia and Tasmania must use both hand signals, while in Victoria, Queensland, New South Wales, and Northern Territory cyclists must signal when turning right but it's not compulsory when turning left.

Cyclist must have at least one hand on handle bars in Western Australia, Northern Territory and Queensland.

Cyclist may ride on standard footpaths in Western Australia, Northern Territory, South Australia and Australian Capital Territory. In Victoria cyclists can only ride on a footpath if they're under the age of 13 or supervising a child under 13, or have a disability which restrains them from being able to ride on the road.[12] In New South Wales cyclists can only ride on a footpath if they're under the age of 16 or supervising a child under 16. In Queensland cyclists can ride on any path as long as there isn't a sign stating otherwise.

Cyclists may ride in groups or bunches in all Australia States and territories, riding two abreast riders must be no more than 1.5 meters apart.[13]

Cyclists across Australia must follow the same rules as motor vehicle drivers in regards to using mobile phones and consuming alcohol.

Cyclist also need to use a bike light when riding at night in Western Australia, Tasmania, Northern Territory, South Australia and Queensland.[14][15][16][17][18][19][20]

Types of cycling[edit]

Recreational cycling[edit]

Many Australians ride a bike for recreation or commuting. In 2017, 1.4% of commuters cycled to work of which 75% were male. Most are concentrated in the flatter parts of major cities, close to the central business district.[21] In 2023, 15% of Australians ride a bike at least weekly, 24% at least monthly and 37% at least yearly.[22]

The National Cycling Strategy was tasked with doubling the number of people cycling from 2011 to 2016, which was not achieved. Demographic changes, and decreasing numbers of riders within capital cities accounted for most of the decrease.[23] Some of the decrease within NSW has been blamed on increased cycling fines implemented in 2016.[24]

The NCS has found that cycling was the most common in Western Australia, the Northern Territory and Australian Capital Territory during 2015. Victoria and Queensland have decreased in participation between 2011 and 2015.[23]

Doubling the number of bike users has the potential[vague] to increase the safety for all riders by helping to make drivers more aware of bicycles on the road,[dubious ] and adding pressure to those who already cycle to obey the road rules.[dubious ] More bike users also has an economic benefit which is estimated in Australia to be $1.43 per kilometre for every person cycled.[citation needed]

Cycling as a sport[edit]

Australia hosts the Tour Down Under in January of every year; it is the first UCI World Tour event on the annual cycling calendar, and the only UCI World Tour in the southern hemisphere. Australians place strongly in cycling at the Olympic Games, UCI World Championships and other international events.

Australia has hosted the UCI Road World Championships, UCI Track Cycling World Championships and UCI Mountain Bike & Trials World Championships. Most state capitals have an indoor velodrome.


Fatality data[edit]

In Australia, police report road fatalities to the State and Territory road safety authorities. The Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE) then catalogues this data in the Australian Road Deaths Database (ARDD).[25]

Cycling Fatalities in Australia
Year NSW VIC QLD SA WA TAS NT ACT Australia Source
2012 7 7 10 3 3 1 1 1 33 [26]
2013 14 6 13 5 6 4 2 0 50 [26]
2014 11 10 9 4 9 0 1 1 45 [26]
2015 7 10 4 4 4 1 0 1 31 [26]
2016 5 8 8 5 3 0 0 0 29 [26]
2017 8 12 8 2 7 1 0 1 39 [26]
2018 9 7 5 7 5 1 0 1 35 [26]
2019 14 11 6 7 1 0 0 0 39 [26]
2020 13 13 7 2 5 0 1 0 41 [26]
2021 9 10 9 5 4 1 1 1 40 [26]

List of bicycle fatalities in Australia[edit]


Footscray and Dock Link Road, Melbourne, 2 February 2023[edit]
Location of the crash

On 2 February 2023, Angus Collins (22 year old) was killed by a truck driver while cycling his bike. The incident occurred around 12:30pm at the corner of Footscray Road and Dock Link Road in Melbourne. The bike lane crosses an intersection where the bike lane is partially obscured by a 3 metre wide pillar.[27]

Contributing factors[edit]

The bicycle advocacy organisation BikeWest said that it was “likely” the cyclist and the truck driver had simultaneous green lights.[28] The Age newspaper reported that regular users of the road said the green lights are always simultaneous.[29]

The transport planning document VicRoads Guidance on Treating Pedestrian and Turning Vehicle Conflicts at Signalised Intersections already states that a "Fully Controlled" left turn is "appropriate" for a bicycle priority route. It states potential locations are "at intersections with a high number of turning heavy vehicles." A possible reason it wasn't implemented is the listed "consideration": "Where the left turn is fully controlled, the potential negative perception from drivers while waiting to turn at times when there are no pedestrians crossing."[30]

BikeWest president John Symons commented that it was disappointing lessons had not been learned from the "shockingly similar" fatality of Arzu Karakoc who was killed in 2017 by a truck turning left across her path.[29][31]


The Amy Gillet Foundation, a cycling advocacy and safety group, called for safer road infrastructure so that mistakes by drivers do no cause a pedestrian or cyclist to be killed.

Cycling organisations[edit]

National bodies[edit]

National sporting organisation[edit]

Other national bodies[edit]

State bodies[edit]


  • Amy Gillett Foundation[40] - a charity to promote safe cycling in Australia[41]


  • Cyclist Australia/NZ Magazine - the thrill of the ride [42]
  • Treadlie Magazine[43] - a magazine for bike lovers[44]
  • Bicycling Australia Magazine[45] - a cycling magazine[46]


The Australian Bicycling Achievement Awards, an initiative of the Cycling Promotion Fund, have been held annually since 2002.[47]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Arnold, Tony (December 2014). "Cycling safety in Australia". Journal of the Australasian College of Road Safety. Retrieved 17 May 2016.
  2. ^ Garrard, J (August 2010). "Cycling injuries in Australia: Road safety's blind spot?". Journal of the Australasian College of Road Safety. Retrieved 17 May 2016.
  3. ^ "Cycling contribution to Australian economy put at A$16.8 billion as bike sales ramp-up". 20 October 2021.
  4. ^ corporateName=National Museum of Australia; address=Lawson Crescent, Acton Peninsula. "National Museum of Australia - History".{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  5. ^ "On your bike: The history of cycling in Sydney - PHA NSW & ACT". 7 May 2018.
  6. ^ "History of cycling in Australia". Australian Geographic. 24 May 2016.
  7. ^ Curnow, W. J. "Bicycle Helmets: A Scientific Evaluation" in Anton De Smet (2008). Transportation Accident Analysis and Prevention (PDF). Commack, N.Y: Nova Science Publishers. ISBN 978-1-60456-288-0.
  8. ^ Garrard, Jan (17 October 2011). "Why aren't more kids cycling to school?". The Conversation.
  9. ^[bare URL PDF]
  10. ^ Robinson, D. L. (2006). "No clear evidence from countries that have enforced the wearing of helmets". BMJ. 332 (7543): 722.2–725. doi:10.1136/bmj.332.7543.722-a. PMC 1410838. PMID 16565131.
  11. ^ Munro, Cameron (July 2015). "National Cycling Participation Survey 2015". Australian Bicycle Council.
  12. ^ "Bicycle road rules". 28 July 2021.
  13. ^ "ROAD TRANSPORT (ROAD RULES) REGULATION 2017 - REG 151 Riding motorbike or bicycle alongside more than 1 other rider".
  14. ^ "Cycling in WA". Cycling in WA. Government of Western Australia. 5 November 2015. Archived from the original on 8 April 2016. Retrieved 17 May 2016.
  15. ^ "Centre for Road Safety". Staying Safe. Transport for NSW. 21 December 2015. Retrieved 17 May 2016.
  16. ^ "Road Safety Advisory Council". Bike riders. The Department of State Growth. 20 October 2015. Archived from the original on 4 June 2016. Retrieved 17 May 2016.
  17. ^ "Cyclist road rules and safety". Cyclist road rules and safety. The Government of South Australia. 2016. Archived from the original on 11 June 2016. Retrieved 17 May 2016.
  18. ^ "Territory and Municipal Services". Road Rules. ACT Government. 17 March 2016. Retrieved 17 May 2016.
  19. ^ "BicycleNT". NT road rules. BicycleNT. Archived from the original on 9 May 2016. Retrieved 17 May 2016.
  20. ^ "Victoria Law Foundation". Bike Law. Monkii. 11 March 2016. Archived from the original on 6 May 2016. Retrieved 17 May 2016.
  21. ^ "Subscribe to The Australian | Newspaper home delivery, website, iPad, iPhone & Android apps".
  22. ^ "National Walking and Cycling Participation Survey" (PDF). Cycling and Walking Australia and New Zealand.
  23. ^ a b "National Cycling Participation Survey 2017" (PDF). National Cycling Strategy 2011-2016.
  24. ^ "In response to a year of increased cycling fines | Bicycle NSW". 7 August 2017.
  25. ^ "Bike rider fatality report 2001–2020" (PDF). Bicycle Network. March 2021. Archived (PDF) from the original on 9 August 2022. Retrieved 9 February 2023.
  26. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Road Trauma Australia 2021 statistical report" (PDF). Bureau of Infrastructure and Transport Research Economics. 26 May 2022. Archived (PDF) from the original on 14 November 2022. Retrieved 9 February 2023.
  27. ^ "Melbourne intersection where cyclist died 'a recipe for disaster' as charity seeks ban on left turns". ABC News. 6 February 2023. Retrieved 9 February 2023.
  28. ^ Timms, Hugo. "Angus Collins: Brunswick Cycling Club star killed on Footscray Rd, West Melbourne".
  29. ^ a b Waters, Cara (6 February 2023). "More cyclists could die at 'horrendous' intersection if nothing is changed, experts warn". The Age. Retrieved 9 February 2023.
  30. ^ "TEM Vol 3 Part 217 VicRoads Guidance on Treating Pedestrian and Turning Vehicle Conflicts at Signalised Intersections". Vic Roads.
  31. ^ Pearson, Erin (9 October 2020). "'Failure to see': Calls for traffic signal changes ahead of inquest into cyclist's death". The Age. Retrieved 9 February 2023.
  32. ^ Cycling Australia, Cycling Australia, Cycling Australia, archived from the original on 28 October 2013, retrieved 27 November 2013
  33. ^ Cycling Australia, About Cycling Australia, Cycling Australia, archived from the original on 27 November 2013
  34. ^ "Bicycle Network". Bicycle Network. 2016.
  35. ^ Bicycle Network (2016). "Bicycle Network". Bicycle Network.
  36. ^ "Home". Bicycle NSW.
  37. ^ "Home". Bicycle Queensland.
  38. ^ "Home". Bike SA.
  39. ^ "West Cycle - our history". NCLS Research. West Cycle. 28 February 2012. Archived from the original on 20 February 2016. Retrieved 20 January 2016.
  40. ^ Amy Gillett Foundation, Amy Gillett Foundation: Safe together, Amy Gillett Foundation, retrieved 27 November 2013
  41. ^ Amy Gillett Foundation, About AGF, Amy Gillett Foundation, archived from the original on 2 May 2013
  42. ^ Cyclist Magazine, Cyclist Magazine, Citrus Media, retrieved 20 November 2019
  43. ^ Treadlie Magazine, Treadlie magazine, Green Press P/L, retrieved 27 November 2013
  44. ^ Treadlie Magazine, About Us, Green Press P/L, archived from the original on 27 November 2013
  45. ^ Bicycling Australia Magazine, Bicycling Australia, Lake Wangary Publishing Co, retrieved 27 November 2013
  46. ^ Bicycling Australia Magazine, Welcome to Bicycling Australia, Lake Wangary Publishing Co, archived from the original on 23 August 2013
  47. ^ Australian Bicycling Achievement Awards, Australian Bicycling Achievement Awards booklets, Cycling Promotion Fund, archived from the original on 27 July 2013

References and further reading[edit]