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We’ve had a few of our Members reach out lately saying they’ve seen an increase in the number of riders using their mobiles while cycling.

President Melinda Tarrant

NSW Law

As a bike is classified as a vehicle in NSW, it is illegal to use most mobile device functions while riding, this includes video calling, texting, emailing, social media, web browsing, taking photos etc. Doing so can result in a fine of $349, or $464 if detected in a school zone.

Bike riders are only able to use a phone to make or answer calls, or play audio (including navigation). In order to do this, the phone must be: 

  • Secured in a cradle, or
  • Used without touching the device

Bike riders can use a hands free device (such as voice activation) in order to control their mobile. However, they must not touch the phone while they are moving. Some helmets also have bluetooth functionality to connect your phone, and can be handy if needing to use your phone. 

Rider Distractions 

Using a phone when riding, can be a big distraction and can lead to serious accidents. A glance at your phone might mean you don’t see debris on the road/trail/path, that you don’t have enough time to react to a motor vehicle suddenly stopping in front of you. 

Similar to driving a motor vehicle, it’s important to not have your audio (navigation, music, radio, podcasts etc.) too loud. This is so you can hear what is happening in your surroundings such as the proximity of vehicles or a fellow bike rider calling out instructions. 

Safety Benefits

Some drivers will remember how hard it was having to navigate using paper maps or large guidebooks.  These days instead of getting distracted looking at maps, or just plain lost, electronic navigation systems on phones and satellite navigation systems can provide instructions that help us know where to go.  

Physical paper maps have never worked well whilst riding a bike or motorbike.  But listening to audible directions from a navigation app can help with navigation and reduce stress, although we know problems can occur when they direct bike riders to use the roads as though they were drivers.  Bike-based workers, like taxi drivers, may also need to listen to instructions to do their job on an unfamiliar route.

"Audible navigation through a phone can help reduce distraction for road users as it’s impossible to manage a guidebook or paper map whilst pedalling,” said Kim Lavender, Bicycle NSW Communications Manager. 

“Phone use on bikes needs to be safe and legal - the same of all road users."

Bicycle NSW encourages riders to limit phone use to the legal approach described above, and to recognise that all road users benefit when they can navigate safely.

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