Know Your Rights (All Three Of Them)

It’s impossible to ride your bike without breaking the law. I have proof. At least according to the laws in Queensland you probably never ride without breaking the law.

And when the laws are stacked against you it’s in your own best interest to know your rights. Here’s the summary:

Okay, so some of the content isn’t relevant but the tone is spot on.

Get this from the Department of Main Roads bicycle road rules:

Riding a bicycle (s245) 

While riding, you must sit astride the seat and keep at least one hand on the handle bars at all times.

What? No getting out of the saddle to get up a hill? No sprinting?  Definitely not. Sitting astride at all times.

You have to wonder about the morons who write these laws. And if they’ve got a law that only this lady never breaks…


…then just how relevant are the other rules? If we have to ignore that one rule because we know it’s too stupid (the very first rule on the top of the page that prefaces ever other rule) then how do we know which other rules to follow?

For instance, hand signals must be given when turning right. Okay, so you’ve got a  learner cyclist and they’re wobbling down the middle of the road trying to make a right hand turn. Now you want them to remove one hand and hold it out just to let people know they’re turning? Was it not obvious already? Are you blind? Or you’re pushing uphill trying to make some lights, and trying to cut across two lanes of traffic, as I was today, are you going to take one hand off to indicate? Isn’t that law stupid and ignorant, at least in that context? Aren’t most road rules stupid in so many contexts when applied to bikes?

Road laws aren’t always sensible for cyclist to follow. I give hand signals out of politeness but I don’t do them when I know it’s not in my best interests. (I gave the example recently of negotiating a chopped up roundabout. I’m not riding into a situation where I have cars coming at me from three directions, a road covered in pot-holes, with one hand waving in the air just to tell everyone I’m turning, as though that wasn’t perfectly obvious to everyone except the moron who tooted me and abused me out his car window.) It’s not like the cartards will ever help me out with a signal. Ever! Cartards never indicate for pedestrians or cyclist because both are small enough to run over if the situation requires.

There is some good news in the rules though. For instance, if you don’t like to wear helmets you just need to be a paying passenger in a three or four wheeled bicycle. If you could arrange to pay for a ride from the lady on the Greenspeed above you could ride without a helmet.

(In Queensland this guy would have to wear a helmet buy his passengers wouldn’t.)

More importantly you can, at least in the state of Queensland, ride on the footpath. So long as there’s no sign expressly forbidding it you’re welcome to mix it with the pedestrians. You’ve got to be polite and sensible while you’re there. Or as the department of transport puts it, “you must give way to pedestrians and ride in a manner that does not inconvenience or endanger other footpath users.”  Makes you wonder why they didn’t scrap all the rules and just leave this caveat: if you’re not being a dick or endangering anyone then carry on.

That could apply equally to all situations. Cartards often carry on excessively about stuff that could be of no possible danger to anyone. If the rule just said, “Not dangerous = not illegal,” then the cartards could shut the fuck up, we could carry on doing what we’re doing, and biketards who don’t know enough to slow down for pedestrians could be tar and feathered (or whatever the punishment is these days).

The rules also do a similar job on whether you should ride in the bike lane. They have an each-way bet. “Always use a bicycle lane where provided, unless it is impracticable to do so.” There’s a statement with a wide range of interpretations. If you’re a lone rider out for a training ride and there’s  bike lane running through some parkland right next to you, do you have to use it? Is that “impractical? Or is only impractical when there are six of you? Is a bike/pedestrian path the same as a bike lane? Or is a bike lane only considered a bike lane when it’s one of those lanes on the road with bikes painted on it? That is, the road. Or, as cartards consider it, the parking lane? (Or that lane you half drive in when you’re texting, just to give yourself a safety margin against smashing into oncoming traffic.) So…is the word “impractical” really just a coded reference about the bike lane being inaccessible because someone is parked in it?

I have to thank That Guy for his tip in the comments of my article about biketards running for parliament. He alerted me to the fact that it is no longer illegal for bikes to ride across a crossing at the lights. He referred me to the recently updated rule s248 and I thought, “Sounds dull,” but googled it anyway and was surprised by the wealth of stupid and irrelevant rules I found there. For instance, it’s legal to ride across a pedestrian crossing at lights but illegal to do so at standard crossing. The crossing where a moron in an SUV tried to deliberately run me down (because I had been rude enough to try and cross without dismounting, kowtowing and begging him for a small share of his road) was a short pedestrian crossing linking a crossing at some lights. So who is right here? Or should common sense prevail? I’m guessing the rules are designed to stop younger riders spearing out into traffic without looking. Sensible. But if I stop and check the traffic and proceed cautiously I don’t think you could consider the rules an invitation for some fuckwit to gun me down with an SUV.

Common sense has as much chance of prevailing as Richmond has of winning the flag next year. In the meantime watch your arse, obey the rules when they’re not stupid or dangerous, site them when they’re in your favour, and never ever get out of your saddle to pedal.

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