How motorists and cyclists can share the road

How motorists and cyclists can safely share the road

According to South African traffic laws, bicycles are regarded as legal vehicles and are bound to the same laws as motor vehicles. However, the traffic system is mainly designed for motorists, and with challenging driving and road conditions these days, cyclists and motorists need to be aware of their respective rules, and act respectfully alongside each other. It is also up to both parties to follow high levels of safety in order to prevent accidents.

The National Traffic Act 93 of 1996 and the National Road Traffic Regulations cover rules that apply to both motorists and cyclists on the road.

The following rules apply to cyclists:

  • Always ride with a helmet (it’s illegal not to do so). Stop at all red traffic lights and all stop streets, and give way to pedestrians. Ride on the left of the road. You must be seated in your saddle. You must ride in single file.Do not deliberately swerve your bicycle from side to side.
  • If you’re riding on a public road where there is a bicycle lane, you must use that lane. Along with dedicated bicycle paths and lanes, you may therefore ride on any road open to cycling. This excludes highways and all roads which indicate they are closed to bicycles. Use cycle lanes wherever these exist.
  • Make the appropriate use of cycle lanes where these are available.
  • Keep as close as possible to the left edge of the roadway.
  • Obey road traffic signs and rules.
  • Fit and use effective front and rear lights when riding in the dark and when visibility is limited.
  • Don’t ride on the right-hand side of a motor vehicle proceeding in the same direction, except when passing that vehicle or turning right at an intersection.
  • Don’t ride abreast of another cyclist proceeding in the same direction except when passing that cyclist.
  • Don’t ride while wearing a headset, headphones or any listening device other than a hearing aid; or while carrying another person, unless the cycle is specifically equipped to carry more than one person.

The following rules apply to motorists:

  • Exercise due care while passing cyclists.
  • Leave a distance between the motor vehicle and the cyclist of at least 1m.
  • Maintain that distance from the cyclist until safely clear of the cyclist.
  • Motorists may cross a solid barrier line to pass a cyclist provided that it can be done without obstructing or endangering other people or vehicles; it is safe to do so; and is done for a period no longer than is necessary to pass the cyclist.
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