Safety and Etiquette

The U3A YarraCity “On yer bike!” group has been riding for almost 5 years. In that time we’ve had very very few accidents or incidents because of our commitment to safe riding.

Here are our suggestions for safe riding:

Your bike

Your bike should be

  • mechanically in good condition,

  • adjusted to fit you and

  • suitable for riding on Melbourne’s bike paths.

If you don’t know how to maintain and adjust your bike take it to a good bike shop and ask them to give it a thorough inspection and service and to adjust it so it fits YOU.  

Your bike should be serviced every 6 to 12 months by someone who knows what they’re doing.

A quick safety check each time you ride is a good idea.

Ask friends, family etc about finding a good bike shop. You can also get good advice about suitable bikes for you and good  bike shops from a local bike group. Some are listed in our page Find a Cycling Group.

A good quality rear vision mirror is highly recommended for safe riding.

If you want to learn how to look after your bike then help, classes and courses are available. Most bike groups have a few members who can show you the ropes. There are lots of good books around on bike repair and maintenance if you’re a DIY type. Websites like YouTube have lots and lots of great information etc. There are also community groups e.g. The Bike Shed and commercial concerns e.g. Bikes at Work who run classes (These links are provided for information only and no endorsement or approval is made or implied of any services offered.)

Get a good helmet

If you don’t have a good helmet then you will need to buy a NEW one. 

If you have a helmet that is a few years old and a bit knocked around throw it in the bin. 

Don’t wear a used helmet someone has given to you.

You must ALWAYS ride with a helmet and it must meet the Australian Standard. 

A good helmet is one that:

  • fits you properly,

  • is comfortable to wear,

  • is properly adjusted and

  • is new or in as new condition.

A bright coloured helmet (eg flouro yellow or pink) will make you more visible in traffic. 

A good bike shop will help you select the right helmet and show you how to wear it and adjust it.

Wear the right clothes

A bright coloured top or jacket (eg yellow, orange, pink) will make you more visible to other riders and in traffic. A hi-vis safety vest or similar only costs a few dollars and is a great idea.

Clothing should be loose fitting and comfortable and protect you from the wind, rain and sun.

Tip: Stop long pants from getting caught in your chain by tucking the ends into your socks.

Close toed shoes (runners, joggers, walking shoes) are the best – avoid open toed shoes, sandals, thongs etc.

Cycling gloves protect the hands during falls, keep the sun off the backs of your hands and are good for wiping away sweat.  

Sunglasses are good. They keep insects and dust out of your eyes and prevent your eyes watering and drying out. 

Obey the road laws

An excellent pdf copy of Bike Rider’s Guide to Road Rules in Victoria is produced by the Victoria Law Foundation.  

Visit to download copies of the Guide. Paper copies are also available free of charge from this webpage.

Riding on roads?

The U3A YarraCity “On yer bike!” Group avoids riding on roads unless absolutely necessary. When it is necessary we keep the distance to a minimum and avoid busy roads. We prefer to take a round about route using quiet back streets than a direct route on a busy road.

Although it is sometimes tempting to ride on a footpath to avoid a busy road it is against the law to do so if you’re over 12 years old.

Fortunately Melbourne is blessed to have hundreds and hundreds of kilometers of excellent off road bike paths and almost all of our riding is on these paths. To find out more information on the whys and wherefores of riding on bike paths visit the Victoria Law Foundation page

Safe riding on off road bike paths 

Off road bike paths are the safest places to ride but they have their hazards.

This is what we do to stay safe:

  • Ride in single file.

  • Remember SSC – Speed, Spacing and Concentration

    • Speed and Spacing - If you’re riding behind someone and they stop or swerve suddenly you need to be able to stop safely. This is hard if you’re going too fast and/or you’re too close to them.

    • Concentration – Things can happen very quickly when you’re riding. You need to concentrate at all times, keep your wits about you and not drift off.

  • Look up the path to a spot about 20-30m ahead of you. This helps you to see any problems early. Your peripheral vision will look after the bit of path between you and where you’re looking.

 Overtaking and passing

When overtaking someone ring your bell and/or yell out something like ‘on your right’ or ‘passing’ or ‘bike’. 

  • You need to do this well before you overtake, don’t do it when your almost abreast of the person in front of you.

  • This applies to other bikes, walkers and anyone else on the path.

  • Rather oddly some people ahead of you will move into the centre of the path when they hear a bell and you need to be prepared for this.

  • A lot of people use earphones now and often don’t hear you.

  • Always assume children, dogs and some adults will do anything at anytime.

  • Overtake slowly and carefully. Don’t try to show what a speed demon you are. You may end up showing you’re something else.

  • Make sure there is plenty of clearance between you and who you’re overtaking . Be prepared to ride off the path to pass safely.

  • Always give way to walkers and anyone else.

  • Be prepared to do anything at anytime to avoid a collision.

  • All of the above also applies to when you’re passing someone coming towards you.


If you need to stop, yell out ‘stopping’ over your shoulder to the people behind you, give them plenty of warning. 

It is best to pull off the path as you stop if possible.


Avoid swerving suddenly on the path, remember the person(s) behind you.  

If you need to swerve suddenly due to something on the path like glass yell out ‘glass’.

Remember to "Concentrate" at all times and look up the path to a spot about 20-30m ahead of you.

Respect and courtesy

Respect everyone on the bike path and always be courteous. 

You’re not in the final sprint to the finish line on the Champs Elysees on the last day of the Tour de France. 

Slowing down, riding carefully, ringing your bell and sometimes stopping will really demonstrate what a good bike rider you are!