Hitting the road on two wheels
Getting yourself a well made, reliable and safe bike is the first step to enjoying two-wheeled freedom – a clean, green and efficient mode of transport.
Most bicycle organisations advise spending a little more if you are in doubt about which bike to purchase. After all it's your safety you might be gambling with just to save a few bucks.
Keeping your bike safe
Almost 10,000 bikes are stolen in Victoria every year and very few are returned to their owners because it's extremely difficult to trace them back.
Eight percent of bicycles that are stolen were left unlocked. So when leaving your bike on street rails, uni racks or train station lockers remember to lock it up. It might also be wise to insure your bike against theft and damage and even yourself against personal injury while out riding.
Out of harm's way and on the right side of the law
Most of us learn to ride a bike as a kid. It's fun, it's a social activity we take part in with our friends, but it's easy to forget that under the road rules, a bicycle is defined as a vehicle. Rules that apply to cars can also apply to bikes.
An Australian Standards approved bicycle helmet is compulsory in Victoria. There are also a number of road rules that apply specifically to bike riders and, like a car, your bike must always be in a roadworthy condition (fix those dodgy brakes now!).
You're required to have a bell, horn or similar warning device in working order and, just like driving, if you ride when you've been drinking alcohol, you're a bloody idiot.
Cyclists who break road rules may be issued with a Traffic Infringement Penalty. For example, cyclists who do not stop at a red light receive the same fine, and loss of licence demerit points, as a motorist. People aged 12 or older are not permitted to ride their bikes on the footpath.
Cyclists can be difficult to see, especially in busy traffic, so it's always advisable to make sure you're clearly visible to others even when riding during daylight hours - fluoro safety vests mightn't look very fashionable but neither does a cast on a broken leg.
Night riding can be particularly dangerous without the proper gear. Under law you must have a white light on the front, a red light on the back, and reflectors on the front and back. Know the rules and stick to them.
You might have some tough commuter rides but bike paths, bike touring, mountain bike activities, BMX and extreme bike sports are the fun side to two-wheeled travel.
Victoria has some fantastic city and country rides , and plenty of places to obtain more information about – such as the Bicycle Victoria website.
Links for bicycles
VicRoads - Cycling
An excellent place to start with a summary of the road rules and necessary safety precautions that should be observed by cyclists of all degrees of experience. There's also plenty of links to further information, maps, the Cyclists Code of Conduct and suggestions for pleasure rides.
An outstanding resource no matter how much time you spend on a bike. Everything you need to know at the site of Australia 's largest and fastest growing cycling organisation.
Bicycles Network Australia - Online Directory For Australian Cycling
A free, non-profit website that is a comprehensive online directory for Australian cycling and starting point for cycling related information, shops, clubs, organisations and cycling related bodies.
Cycling Promotion Fund
A non-profit organisation dedicated to increasing the level of safe cycling in Australia.