With Stage 1 of Canberra’s light rail almost up and running, it’s time to talk trams and tracks. In this article Amber Wang highlights ways to cycle safely around trams and some of the legal issues that cyclists should be aware of.*

Trams and bikes

You may take your bike onto the tram, but must store it securely in the bike rack inside the carriage.
It may seem obvious, but when riding around the tram corridors you’ll need to be careful to keep your wheels out of the tram tracks. This is particularly important when overtaking other vehicles, turning at intersections or crossing the tracks. Also, in wet weather the tracks may be slippery.
As vulnerable road users, cyclists will not only need to be mindful of the trams, which travel quickly and quietly, but also the new road rules. This will help keep you safe and avoid the potentially hefty fines. However, it’s not only the trams and road rules that cyclists will need to be wary of – other road users may not be familiar with the new rules and may act unpredictably.

Road Transport (Road Rules) Regulation 2017

We recommend that all cyclists read the updated Road Transport (Road Rules) Regulation 2017. Here’s a brief summary of some of the new rules:

  • You must not move into the path of an approaching tram, or onto tram tracks where broken or continuous yellow lines run parallel to the tracks.
  • Hook turns are allowed at some intersections but not at others. Look out for bike storage areas painted on the road, and any applicable signs and road markings.
  • If you’re in the path of an approaching tram or on tram tracks, you must move out of the path of the tram as soon as you can do so safely (R 76). The same rules apply if a bus is travelling along the tram tracks (R 76(3)).
  • When on or entering a roundabout, you must give way to any tram that’s on, entering or approaching the roundabout (R 114).
  • You must not enter a level crossing if it’s blocked, there are warning lights or bells operating, a boom gate closing, a tram entering the crossing, or a tram can be seen from the crossing and there would be danger of a collision if you entered the crossing (R 123).
  • You’re not allowed to travel in a tram lane for more than 50 metres, and only to enter or leave the road, to overtake a vehicle that is turning right or making a U-turn, to avoid an obstruction, or a traffic sign indicates you may do so (R 155).
  • When overtaking a tram (or a bus travelling on tram tracks) you must be particularly careful:
    • If the tracks are not on or near the far-left side of the road (R 160):
      • you may not overtake to the right-hand side of the tram unless permitted by signage
      • you may not drive past or overtake a tram if it’s turning left or indicating left, unless you’re turning left and there’s no danger of collision with the tram.
    • If the tracks are on or near the far-left side of the road (R 161):
      • you may not drive past or overtake the tram to its left-hand side, unless you are turning left and there’s no danger of collision with the tram
      • you may not drive past or overtake the tram if it’s turning right or indicating to turn right.
    • Safety zones will be located near tram stops, and will be identifiable by dividing strops, pedestrian refuge, or traffic islands. You’re not allowed to drive or ride on a safety zone and must travel at a speed that doesn’t put any crossing pedestrians at risk (R 162).
    • If you’re travelling behind or beside a tram that stops at a tram stop (except one that stops on the far left-hand side of the road), you must stop if there is no safety zone, dividing strip or traffic island between the tram and road. You must remain stopped if the tram doors closest to the road opens, or pedestrians are crossing between the tram and the far-left side of the road. You can pass the tram at a maximum of 10 kilometres per hour if the tram doors don’t open (Rs 163 & 164). The same rules apply if you’re already stopped, and a tram approaches you from behind and stops beside you (R 164A).
    • You may not stop at a tram stop, or within 20 metres before a tram stop sign (unless a parking control sign permits you to do so) (R 196).
    • When getting off a tram, you must cross to the nearest footpath or cross the road using the shortest safe route and cannot stay on the road for longer than necessary (R 233).


How can we help?

With time, cycling safely around trams will become second nature. But in the meantime, it’s important that cyclists adapt to the changed conditions and watch out for other road users who may not be familiar with the new rules.
If you’re injured in an accident involving a tram, either as a passenger or a road user, you may be able to pursue a compensation claim under the current compulsory third-party scheme (this scheme is expected to become a no-fault scheme as at 1 July 2019). You can contact one of our Personal Injury team on 02 6285 8000 or by email.

*The content of this article is provided for information purposes only, and we do not accept any liability for reliance upon the information contained in this article.  This information cannot be relied upon as legal advice.