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Ask RiotACT: Road rules & riding to school

By Leon Arundell - 5 February 2016 34

Ask RiotACT

Children who walk or ride to school should know the road rules that apply when they cross a road. They should also know to what extent they can trust drivers to act according to those road rules.

Picture the following situation:
* a child is riding to school along a footpath, and continues straight ahead to cross a road;
* a driver approaches from behind the child and starts to turn right, across the path of the child.

Who must give way, and which road rule requires that person to give way?

I’ve posted a diagram below:

TIintersectionCarBike

You can check out the ACT Road Rules Handbook.

This situation raises three important questions:
(1) Do the road rules require the driver or the cyclist to give way?
(2) Is the ACT Road Rules Handbook sufficiently clear?
(3) How safe is it for a cyclist or a driver to assume that the other person knows the relevant rule?

What’s Your opinion?


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34 Responses to
Ask RiotACT: Road rules & riding to school
rommeldog56 10:27 am 08 Feb 16

Leon said :

wildturkeycanoe said :

The car cannot stop in the middle of oncoming traffic after turning, to give way to the cyclist.

Does wildturkeycanoe think it’s safe for a cyclist to start crossing a road, and then have to stop in front of an approaching truck in order to give way to a driver who has approached from behind the cyclist and turned across the cyclist’s path?

I note that in your OP, you said “child” – instead of cyclist. Looking for a more emotive response ?

In any event, I think what wildturkeycanoe is saying is that cyclists should check traffic (and make eye contact with drivers) 1st, before crossing. Not just cyclists either, any pedestrian too. Personal responsibility for ones own safety is paramount – not transferring that onto others.

In your example, u use a “child”. If the child wants to or has to ride a pushbike or walk to school – or to where ever – then it is as much a parental responsibility to ensure that they are mature enough, are “street wise” enough, know the laws and have enough common sense to cross roads safely, as it for vehicle drivers to drive safely and give way to bike riders/pedestrians where the law requires and in a courtesy manner.

Neither party can “outsource” that responsibility to the other party.

Leon 9:52 am 08 Feb 16

wildturkeycanoe said :

The car cannot stop in the middle of oncoming traffic after turning, to give way to the cyclist.

Does wildturkeycanoe think it’s safe for a cyclist to start crossing a road, and then have to stop in front of an approaching truck in order to give way to a driver who has approached from behind the cyclist and turned across the cyclist’s path?

JC 9:40 am 08 Feb 16

There are quite a number of road rules that people do not understand and rarely obey. Giving way at roundabout me being one pet hate of mine. But that said everyone needs to ensure their own survival so there are times a rule may say one thing but common sense says you shouldn’t assert your right* just for your own survival. Crossing a road being case in point.

*BTW even though I said assert right of way, interestingly despite the road rules saying drivers need to give way to others there is nothing in the rules that gives people right of way. It wa explained to be during an advance driver training course it is because saying people had right of way would create a mentality of self entitlement that would lead to far greater accidents.

This post kind of reminds me of that. I personally would be teaching my kids to wait for turning cars in this situation, despite said turning car being the one who should give way.

Ghettosmurf87 9:13 am 08 Feb 16

wildturkeycanoe said :

In the scenario pictured, if the road the car is on is called Southern Cross Drive and the road the cyclist is crossing is called Beaurepaire Crescent for example, there is no pedestrian crossing. Any car turning right would expect the pedestrian or cyclist to stop and give way to vehicles from both directions. The car cannot stop in the middle of oncoming traffic after turning, to give way to the cyclist or they will be t-boned. This is a ridiculous situation. The car should have right of way as they may not have seen the cyclist entering the road when they turned into the side street, they were too busy checking to make sure there was no oncoming traffic. If a driver needs to check on all traffic in a 360 degree field of view, it’d make your head spin!

I think you have ignored the facts of the actual scenario above. The scenario above suggests that the child on the bicycle had begun crossing the road straight ahead BEFORE the turning car had approached from behind and indicated. I.e, the car had not signalled its intent to turn yet, so they legitimately believed they could cross safely. In such a situation, then yes, the car should give way. They should do this by not commencing the turn until they can safely miss the bicycle to the rear. The same as they would do if they wished to turn and there was oncoming traffic from the other direction.

Common courtesy says that if the bicycle rider looked back and saw that a car was signalling its intent to turn across their path, before the bicycle got onto the side road, then the cyclist would stop and allow them to pass as they are the slower vehicle and likely to cause a longer obstruction, despite technically having right of way. However, where no intent is shown to turn, the cyclist has every right to begin their manoeuvre and expect to complete it without being antagonised. Otherwise cyclist that stay off the road and try to cross side streets adjacent to busy roads would never be able to cross as they would need to assume that every car passing had intent to turn despite the lack of a signal, which would be absurd.

churl 9:04 am 08 Feb 16

For pedestrians this is a case where the law is very clear but you are mad to expect Canberra drivers to give way. I notice this every time I go to Melbourne where cars (inner suburbs at least) do give way and I’m always surprised.
For a bike, I would be particularly careful as you will move into danger much faster.
In practice non-motoring Canberrans have adopted survival tactics so I think that the law will eventually fade away.

Leon 5:12 am 08 Feb 16

screaming banshee said :

Unless you want “she had right of way” on your tombstone I’d suggesting making eye contact with the driver to ensure they have seen you and will yield

Unless you want the Canberra Times headline to read, “screaming banshee had right of way when he/she killed the child,” I’d suggest making eye contact with the child to ensure they have seen you and will yield.

Maya123 10:48 pm 07 Feb 16

screaming banshee said :

Unless you want “she had right of way” on your tombstone I’d suggesting making eye contact with the driver to ensure they have seen you and will yield.

There is also courtesy to consider, particularly on entering/exiting carparks. Just because you have right of way doesn’t mean you have to exercise it, particularly if the car and others behind it are burning fossil fuels while they wait for you to toddle across the road. Slow your walk and give them a clear wave through, smile, there you go doesn’t everyone feel better.

“I’d suggesting making eye contact with the driver to ensure they have seen you and will yield.”

Naturally. In the example I gave I did have eye contact with the driver and they had plenty of time to safely stop, despite their horn honking; the fact of this that proves they saw me too. In the case of leaving a car park and needing to give way to traffic crossing in from of the exit, it is the same as leaving the driveway at home. You give way to the traffic. In the case of the car park, the traffic was both the road and path traffic which runs side by side. I would have needed to slam my breaks on, and then likely the car would have stopped in front of me, blocking my route while it waited for cars passing on the parallel road. It is a good rule that traffic leaving the car park (cars, bicycles, etc) must give way to through traffic. How about some courtesy on the part of the driver I mentioned? Why do you believe that cars have the right to expect everyone else showing courtesy, while, taking your comments above, car drivers don’t have to as well?

screaming banshee 11:59 am 07 Feb 16

Unless you want “she had right of way” on your tombstone I’d suggesting making eye contact with the driver to ensure they have seen you and will yield.

There is also courtesy to consider, particularly on entering/exiting carparks. Just because you have right of way doesn’t mean you have to exercise it, particularly if the car and others behind it are burning fossil fuels while they wait for you to toddle across the road. Slow your walk and give them a clear wave through, smile, there you go doesn’t everyone feel better.

wildturkeycanoe 9:36 am 07 Feb 16

Grail said :

(“mustn’t stop moving I might be late!”).

But if the car has crossed through the intersection, they can’t stop or they will get hit by traffic coming the other way. You cannot always predict what a pedestrian or cyclist will do, they may have stopped to check traffic, you assume they are waiting for you, then after you go through the intersection they change their mind and get in your way. What then?

wildturkeycanoe 9:33 am 07 Feb 16

In the scenario pictured, if the road the car is on is called Southern Cross Drive and the road the cyclist is crossing is called Beaurepaire Crescent for example, there is no pedestrian crossing. Any car turning right would expect the pedestrian or cyclist to stop and give way to vehicles from both directions. The car cannot stop in the middle of oncoming traffic after turning, to give way to the cyclist or they will be t-boned. This is a ridiculous situation. The car should have right of way as they may not have seen the cyclist entering the road when they turned into the side street, they were too busy checking to make sure there was no oncoming traffic. If a driver needs to check on all traffic in a 360 degree field of view, it’d make your head spin!
BTW, I am not classifying the side road as the entrance to a carpark, simply another road.
It is up to pedestrians and cyclists to be aware and give way to cars, when there is no pedestrian crossing. If they step out, or ride out, into the path of a car unexpectedly, the consequences are more dire for the unprotected individual who may or may not have been exercising their “right of way”. Imagine if pedestrians simply wandered onto any of our major roadways without regard for traffic, because they have “Right of way”. Accidents, rear-enders, deaths…there’d be an outcry for a ban on cars immediately. Roads are designed for cars, footpaths for pedestrians. If a pedestrian wants to try out the reaction time of drivers, the only person in harms way is themselves.
What ever happened to the old jingle “Look to the right, look to the left, look to the right again, then if the road is clear of traffic, walk straight across the road, don’t run.”
It used to be on the onus of the child to navigate safely across a road. We always tell our kids to look over their shoulder in this exact scenario and to wait till the car has turned, not to walk out in front of them and hope they stop. As far as the scenario above, once the car has entered the side street, is it not then driving in a straight line and travelling along that road, thereby nullifying the rule about giving way to pedestrians not on a designated crossing?
Legalities aside, self preservation is better than taking legal action from beyond the grave. Teach your children to respect every driver as being an irresponsible A-hole who doesn’t care about your safety, they will live for longer.

Maya123 11:49 pm 06 Feb 16

I won’t comment too much on this situation, but I did once check on the rules for a pedestrian or cyclist continuing straight ahead across an entry or exit road to a car park. I checked this after I ignored a car driver honking at me to get out of their way as they left the car park. They wanted me to stop and wait till they passed. I believed I had the right of way and shouted at them they had to give way and proceeded to take the right of way by making them wait. Another car driver turned when they heard the honking and agreed with me. But to be sure I checked with roads ACT and received a detailed reply confirming I had been in the right and a car must give way to a person walking or cycling along a path that crosses the entrance or exit of a car park. They did say though that unfortunately many car drivers don’t know the rules. Perhaps the example above is similar?

OpenYourMind 8:16 pm 06 Feb 16

Well, no matter what the law may say, this is a human being and more importantly a likely less self aware child crossing a road, so the car yields. Why even ask this question. What’s the alternative, you run the person over?

Leon 5:30 pm 06 Feb 16

Just to clarify, the child is RIDING A BICYCLE.

Grail 2:56 pm 05 Feb 16

The simple rule is that if a pedestrian is crossing a road that a car wants to turn into, the car must give way.

What actually happens is that the rude, self-important git behind the wheel decides they are more important (“mustn’t stop moving I might be late!”) and barges on through, then blames the pedestrian if a collision occurs (“should have dodged faster, idiot cyclist!”).

The worst offenders are parents taking kids to school, people driving 4x4s (the bigger the car, the worse the driver), and Audi drivers. The very worst offender is a parent dropping kids off to school in an Audi Q7.

Grail 2:49 pm 05 Feb 16

The pedestrian has right of way since they are not deviating from their right of way.

The driver should give way to the pedestrian.

What actually happens is the Audi or ute driver just cuts the oedestrian off because they are too self-important to bother with things like road rules.

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