Are cyclists obliged to use a shared path if one is available?

Last week this video went viral across social media, attracting attention across the country.

The video depicts an incident of road rage between two cyclists and a driver on the NSW South Coast. The disgruntled motorist approaches two cyclists riding two abreast on the road, instead of the share path. The driver then drives onto the share path and speeds past the cyclists, harassing them for not using the shared path.

In light of this video, we discuss the use of shared paths in South Australia.

What is a shared path and who can use it?

A shared path is an area open to the public that is designated for, or has as one of its main uses, use by both the riders of bicycles and pedestrians, and includes a length of path for use by both bicycles and pedestrians.

Cyclists of all ages are permitted to ride on a shared path unless a “no bicycles” sign is displayed.

Cyclists must keep left, always give way to pedestrians and ring a bell or provide a verbal warning to alert pedestrians of their presence.

Do cyclists have to use the shared path if one is available?

Cyclists are able to ride on either the road or the shared path. Cyclists are permitted to ride on the shared path even if there is a designated bicycle lane on the road.

If a cyclist chooses to ride on the road, however, they are required to ride in a bike lane where one is provided.

If cyclists choose to ride on the road, can they ride in rows of two or more?

Cyclists are permitted to ride two abreast on a road, however, any more than two cyclists riding abreast is an offence. During bicycle lane operating times, cyclists riding abreast cannot ride more than 1.5 metres apart.

If this incident had occurred in South Australia, who would be in the wrong?

It is clear that the motorist would be in the wrong if this incident had occurred in South Australia.  Motorists are not permitted to ride on shared paths in this State. Cyclists, on the other hand, are permitted by law to ride on the road, even if a shared path is available.

This article has been edited from the original post. 

This article has been written and edited by JAndersons Solicitors. For any questions on this topic, contact Andersons.