I first started cycling on a road bike exactly a year ago. I am now an avid cyclist and I am out cycling every weekend and on some weeknights. I wanted to find out what are the applicable Malaysian road traffic laws to cyclists.

The main law is under the Road Transport Act 1987 (Road Transport Act) and the subsidiary laws in the Road Traffic Rules 1959 (Road Traffic Rules).

Out of interest, the Road Traffic Rules were enacted under the earlier Road Traffic Ordinance 1958. The Ordinance was repealed by the passing of the Road Transport Act but where the Rules continued to be maintained.

The Road Transport Act regulates vehicles on roads in general and has laws to protect third parties against the risks arising.

Bicycles do fall within the ambit of the Road Transport Act, and can fall within the definitions of:

“vehicle” means a structure capable of moving or being moved or used for the conveyance of any person or thing and which maintains contact with the ground when in motion

 

“micromobility vehicle” means any vehicle that is propelled by electrical means, an internal-combustion engine or human power or a combination of electrical means, an internal-combustion engine or human power, and having a maximum speed of 50 km/h

(Author’s note: I know of several Malaysian cyclists that would exceed this speed of 50 km/h!)

With that introduction, I set out the key 10 laws for Malaysian cyclists.

#1: Mandatory Lights (For Certain Hours)

Between the times of sunset and sunrise, every bicycle must have a front white light and must have a rear red light. The light must be visible for a reasonable distance.

This is required under Rule 35 of the Road Traffic Rules.

Rule 35

Between the times of sunset and sunrise vehicles, other than motor vehicles, shall in the case of-

(2) Every bicycle when ridden, shall have attached to it in the front a lamp exhibiting a white light visible for a reasonable distance in the direction in which the bicycle is proceeding.

(3) Every bicycle shall, when ridden, have attached to it at the back, a lamp showing to the rear a red light, visible for a reasonable distance.

 

A breach of this Rule 35 can lead to a charge as a general offence under section 119 of the Road Transport Act. If you are found guilty, the penalty is an RM2,000 fine or a maximum prison term of 6 months.

#2: Mandatory Brakes

All bicycles must have brakes for each of their wheels.

This is required under Rule 42(1)(a) of the Road Traffic Rules.

Rule 42

(1) No person shall ride a bicycle or tricycle on any road-

(a) unless it is fitted with efficient brakes operating independently on at least two wheels, and bell,

 

A breach of this Rule 42 can lead to a charge as a general offence under section 119 of the Road Transport Act. If you are found guilty, the penalty is an RM2,000 fine or a maximum prison term of 6 months.

#3: Mandatory Bell

All bicycles must be fitted with a bell.

This is required under Rule 42(1)(a) of the Road Traffic Rules.

Rule 42

(1) No person shall ride a bicycle or tricycle on any road-

(a) unless it is fitted with efficient brakes operating independently on at least two wheels, and bell,

 

I remember this bell rule due to the videos of Malaysian cycling YouTuber, Melvin Tan.

A breach of this Rule 42 can lead to a charge as a general offence under section 119 of the Road Transport Act. If you are found guilty, the penalty is an RM2,000 fine or a maximum prison term of 6 months.

#4: Ride Single File

Cyclists must ride a single file.

This is required under Rule 42(3) of the Road Traffic Rules.

Rule 42

(3) Cyclists shall ride in single file.

 

This is an absolute rule and does not set out exceptions for what forms of road.

A breach of this Rule 42 can lead to a charge as a general offence under section 119 of the Road Transport Act. If you are found guilty, the penalty is an RM2,000 fine or a maximum prison term of 6 months.

#5: Don’t Hold on to Objects

You cannot hold on to any objects in either of your hands.

This is set out in Rule 42(1)(c) of the Road Traffic Rules.

Rule 42

(1) No person shall ride a bicycle or tricycle on any road-

(c) while holding any article in either hand

 

On the one hand, this would prohibit you from holding your phone and GoPro to video or take photos. But on the other hand, a literal application of this rule would mean you would not even be able to hold your bottle to drink or eat your gel!

My view is that a more purposive reading of this law should apply. For instance, you cannot be going out on your entire cycling journey while holding something in your hand. As an example, you cannot hold on to a plank of wood to transport it while cycling. That would be the mischief this law is trying to target.

But where you do need from time to time to hold your gel packet or hold on to your water bottle, I do not view an absolute application of this rule.

A breach of this Rule 42 can lead to a charge as a general offence under section 119 of the Road Transport Act. If you are found guilty, the penalty is: RM2,000 fine or maximum prison term of 6 months.

#6: No Riding on Footpath

Cyclists cannot ride their bicycles on a footpath.

This is set out in Rule 44 of the Road Traffic Rules.

Rule 44

No vehicle other than an invalid carriage (not being a motor vehicle) or a perambulator or a toy vehicle ridden or driven by a child below twelve years of age shall be used or kept on a footpath.

 

A breach of this Rule 44 can lead to a charge as a general offence under section 119 of the Road Transport Act. If you are found guilty, the penalty is an RM2,000 fine or a maximum prison term of 6 months.

#7: Cycling Helmet is Not Mandatory

I was surprised to find that there are no laws making it mandatory for cyclists to wear a helmet.

In the Malaysian cyclist community and on all the group rides, we always insist that “no helmet, no ride”.

Worldwide, the cycling helmet laws in each country are also not uniform – between making helmets mandatory and finding that wearing helmets are a personal choice.

On the other hand, for motorcyclists, helmets are mandatory under the Motorcycle (Helmet) Rules 1973 as enacted under the Road Transport Act.

#8: Riding on the Highway?

Can cyclists ride on the highway? This question seems to come up frequently in discussions and in the news. At least based on the Road Transport Act and the Rules, this is my take on this.

First, where the highway has placed a traffic sign prohibiting cycling, then the cyclist must obey. If you ignore that traffic sign, then you have committed an offence under the Road Transport Act.

This is based on section 79(2) of the Road Transport Act:

Section 79

(2) … where any traffic sign has been lawfully placed on or near any road, any pedestrian or any person driving or propelling any vehicle, who fails or neglects to conform to the indication given by the sign, shall be guilty of an offence and shall on conviction be liable to a fine of not less than three hundred ringgit and not more than two thousand ringgit.

 

An example of such a highway is LATAR Expressway which expressly prohibits cycling and has placed traffic signs to prohibit cycling.

If you breach this section by failing to comply with the traffic signs, you can be charged and the penalty is a fine between RM300 to RM2,000.00.

Second, aside from the traffic sign situations, I could not find any other general prohibition to prevent cyclists from cycling on the highway.

Third, when the cyclist cycles on the emergency lane of the highway, that is an offence under Rule 53 of the Road Traffic Rules.

A breach of Rule 53 can lead to a charge as a general offence under section 119 of the Road Transport Act. If you are found guilty, the penalty is: RM2,000 fine or maximum prison term of 6 months.

Fourth, the cyclist must still be aware of the other Road Transport Act offences that can apply and where I cover them below. For instance, if you were to engage in reckless or careless cycling.

#9: Other Road Transport Act Offences

Certain Road Transport Act offences do apply to cyclists (see section 54 of the Road Transport Act).

Essentially, these forms of driving offences apply to cyclists:

  • Causing death by reckless or dangerous driving (see section 41(1) of the Road Transport Act).
  • Reckless and dangerous driving (see section 42(1) of the Road Transport Act).
  • Careless and inconsiderate driving (see section 43(1) of the Road Transport Act).
  • Offences related to driving while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or drugs (see sections 44(1), 44(1A), 45A(1), 45b(4) and 45C(6) of the Road Transport Act).

If the cyclist is convicted for the careless and considerate driving-related offence, there is a fine of RM1,000.00

If the cyclist is convicted for all the other offences listed above, there is a fine of between RM1,000 to RM5,000, and a maximum prison term of 12 months.

#10: Your Bike Can Be Detained

Perhaps this serves as the ultimate deterrent for cyclists who may commit any of the above traffic offences.

A police officer, road transport officer or traffic warden may detain your bicycle if he or she thinks there has been an offence committed.

This is the power under section 112(3) of the Road Transport Act:

Section 112(3)

(3) A police officer, road transport officer or traffic warden may detain any micromobility vehicle in respect of which an offence has been committed within his view.

 

Presumably, pending the investigations and the decision on whether to charge the cyclist with any offence, the bicycle can continue to be detained. With some of the high-end bicycles I see out on the road, the value of the bicycle may far exceed any possible fine.

Conclusion

With cyclists and other road users being more aware of the applicable laws, I hope for safer roads for all users. I think there is room for continued refinement of the laws and especially with updates to the Road Traffic Rules in relation to cyclists.

As part of my research, I also came across this excellent Safe Cycling Guide published in January 2022 by the Ministry of Transport and the Malaysian Institute of Road Safety Research (MIROS). Recommended reading for cyclists, new and old. Let us all ride safe.

 

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