In general road rules apply equally to cars, bicycles and any other vehicles on the road, although there are some exceptions. You must obey all traffic rules and signs just like any other vehicle.
The full legislation is the Transport Operations (Road Use Management) Act 1995 ("the Act") and the Transport Operations (Road Use Management - Road Rules) Regulation 1999 ("the road rules"). These are based on the model Australian Road Rules. Most of the legislation relates to cyclists, but note particularly Part 15 "Additional rules for bicycle riders" in the road rules.
The legislation is generally fairly easy to comprehend, but this page attempts to summarise and explain some of the relevant parts. References are to the road rules unless otherwise specified.
There is specific terminology used in the legislation for classes of vehicle:
- motor vehicle
- any motorised vehicle, including cars but not bicycles (schedule 6)
- anything on wheels but not rails (the Act, schedule 4)
- wheeled recreational device
- devices such as skateboards and rollerblades but not bicycles (schedule 6)
Similarly, for different kinds of road and related areas:
- bicycle lane
- a lane marked with begin and end bicycle lane signs (section 153)
- bicycle path
- a path marked with begin and end bicycle path signs (section 239)
- bus lane
- a lane marked with begin and end bus lane signs (section 154)
- separated footpath
- a footpath marked with begin and end separated footpath signs (section 239)
See schedule 6 of the road rules for the full list.
To be ridden, a bicycle must have (section 258):
- at least one "effective" brake, and
- a working bell, horn or equivalent.
To cycle at night (or in reduced visibility conditions), one must also have (section 259):
- a white light at the front,
- a red light at the back, and
- a red reflector at the back.
Both lights must be clearly visible for at least two hundred metres, and may be either flashing or continuous. The reflector must be clearly visible for at least fifty metres when illuminated by headlights.
Various kinds of special lanes can be marked on the road that permit only particular types of vehicle. In general bikes can travel in these but ordinary cars cannot. There are exceptions where all vehicles can use the lane when required, including to overtake somebody turning right, to cross the lane to get on or off the road or between parts of it, or when there's an obstruction (section 158). People working on a roadwork site are also exempt where it's not practicable for them to comply and sufficient warning of the roadworks has been given (section 310). "Sufficient warning" is not defined, but other use of the term (particularly section 227) indicates it means signage at the site.
If there is a bicycle lane on the road in the direction you are travelling, you must use it "unless it is impracticable to do so" (section 247).
Other vehicles may not use bicycle lanes, except for parking (where permitted) and buses and taxis dropping off or picking up passengers (section 153). In all these cases the vehicles may travel in the bicycle lane for up to fifty metres.
Only buses, bicycles and taxis may use a bus lane (section 154).
Transit lanes come in two varieties: T2 (requiring at least two people per car) and T3 (requiring at least three people per car).
Only buses, bicycles, taxis, motorbikes and cars with the required number of people may use a transit lane (section 156).
Wheelchairs and wheeled recreational devices (rollerblades, etc) may use bike paths unless otherwise signed (section 239). Pedestrians may not use bike paths, except to cross them.
Cyclists must keep as close as practicable to the left of a road (section 129). This applies equally to other drivers, but not motorcyclists.
Riding two abreast
Cyclists may ride two abreast (or more when overtaking) as long as they are no more than 1.5 metres apart (section 151).
Unlike other vehicles, bicycles are permitted to overtake vehicles on the left, as long as it's safe and the vehicle is not indicating left (section 141). Bicycles are also permitted to overtake to the right of another vehicle within the same lane, same as other vehicles are. Although "lane splitting" (cycling between two slow or stopped lanes of traffic) is currently legal, it's necessary to indicate and give way whenever crossing a lane line (sections 45, 46, 48 and 148).
Mixing with pedestrians
It is legal for anybody to cycle on the footpath in Queensland, although this can be overridden by local laws and/or signage. Cyclists must keep left and give way to pedestrians on a footpath (section 250).
Cyclists must dismount to cross a pedestrian (zebra) crossing or at pedestrian lights (unless there are also bicycle lights) (section 248).
"No bicycles" signs prohibit cycling but walking a bicycle is still permitted (section 252). A person walking and pushing a bicycle is not a cyclist (section 17(2)(b)).
Unlike other vehicles, bikes may (but aren't required to) make a hook turn at any right turn unless otherwise signed. To make a hook turn, proceed on the left side of the road to the far side of the intersection, then proceed as if you were travelling along the road you want to turn onto, giving way and waiting for traffic lights on that road as necessary i.e. if there are traffic lights you will need to wait for them to turn green on each of the two roads in turn (section 35).