Should children pillion on motorcycles?

Children pillion on motorcycles

The issue of children riding pillion on motorcycles has been raised again after this photograph of a seven-year-old girl on a sports bike in Texas surfaced on Facebook recently.

It was accompanied by a storm of abuse from people saying the mother was a bad parent.

The mother answered the trolling abuse and admitted it was dangerous, but also legal (in Texas you only have to be five years old and able to reach the footpegs) and that her daughter wore all the gear and her father has more than 20 years’ riding experience.


Do you still have burn marks on your legs from riding pillion on a motorcycle as a child?

It seemed a rite of passage to ride on your uncle’s or friend’s older brother’s motorcycle when you were a kid. It was painful, but I’ll simply never forget the first time I was taken for a ride.

We also used to ride bicycles to school, climb trees and swim in unfenced pools. We took risks, lost some skin and developed a sense of adventure.

Look at any school grounds these days and count the number of bicycles. Today’s kids are cocooned from danger, adventure and fun.

Around the world there are various laws against children riding pillion.

In Australia, all states and territories, except the Northern Territory, require children to be at least eight years old. Queensland also has that age restriction on sidecar pillions.Harley-Davidson museum children

In the UK, anyone can ride pillion so long as they can comfortably reach the footpegs. The law even allows you to fit higher footpegs so children can reach them.

Laws vary across American states from no restrictions to age restrictions and even a requirement for children to be secured to a motorcycle or the rider by a seat belt or harness.

Pillion belt
Rider and pillion  belted together

In parts of Asia, there are no rules about pillions.

In some countries, the only rules are that children have to be positioned in front of an adult, whether it’s the rider or a pillion – which means you can carry more than one pillion! They don’t even have to wear a helmet.

If you’ve been to Asia, you will no doubt have seen whole families on bikes, with mums carrying babies in their arms and children sitting on the handlebars or carry racks or standing in front of the rider.


It looks highly dangerous, but should we judge them? How else are they going to get around?

Have we got too many rules?


  1. My father bought his first motorcycle when I was three, and I rode as a pillion passenger from day 1. We never came even close to having an accident.
    The ONLY reason we have unlimited rules for absolutely everything nowadays, is to give someone a job.
    It is because of unlimited silly rules, that I am going overseas for a 5,000 to 10,000 motor cycle trip early next year. I don’t really care how much I spend, but it certainly won’t be paid to Australian Traffic Cops for merely breaching rules that don’t apply outside Australia.

    I am going to the health department tomorrow to apply for a permit to fart in my own home. I am expecting a refusal.

  2. So with all this outrage…….are there any statistics of incidents with kids riding pillion? I’ve heard of plenty of motorcycle accidents, never heard of a kid being killed as pillion. Which suggests to me, the riding is very very different when the kid is aboard.

    Would someone take a kid pillion into the twisties? Of course not.

    Would someone take a kid pillion through the daily commute to the city? Of course not.

    Would someone take a pillion for a short joyride, or a ride our of peak hour to a set destination? Sure, I would. MY son is 6 and can’t wait……he will absolutely love it. The same way I loved it with my Dad. I never thought my old man was cooler when I was on the back of his bike.

  3. I’m sick of people telling me what I should do with my children. It seems in this country the decision of the parent is becoming eroded. Wheter or not you see the carrying of a child on a motorcycle as dangerous or not is purely subjective opinion. It’s a decision for the parent good or bad. Stop pretending to love my child more than I do.

  4. Sorry, But completely unacceptable.
    Iv’e ridden for 35 years and would never have put my children in this situation, they don’t have the capacity to understand what they are getting involved in at this age or understand the consequences if something should go wrong. The hospitals are full of people who thought “this wont happen to me”. This is nothing like falling over in the school yard I’m afraid. Especially these days with more traffic, distracted drivers, diesel spills, and all the other obvious hazards. I think more of my children than to expose them to unnecessary and unacceptable risks, I couldn’t live with myself if something happened to them because of my negligence.

    The mother in the article ” admitted it was dangerous, but also legal” yeah that makes a lot of sense.

    1. I’ve been riding for over forty years and I would take my children on the bike if they were able to ride a pushbike
      Sophie Delisio was run over in a daycare center and again in a pram while crossing the road at a marked and stoplighted crossing. She would have been safer on a bike.

  5. I take my 12 yr old daughter with me on day rides and she loves coming with me.

    However it is very important to make sure that smaller hands and arms have an easy and secure way to hang on. Her arms cant reach around me and bike jackets are too smooth to give her anything to grip so I wear a belt around my chest with two handles built in. It gives her a secure grip without tiring her out and gives ME peace of mind as well (not to mention her mother!).

    Search ebay for “motorbike pillion handle” – they aren’t expensive and make a world of difference.

    1. Thanks for the suggestion. When I saw the picture of the belt thing above in the article I thought that was a great idea.

  6. I brought up my kid [single dad] from the age of 5 in the most
    part with no car, on the tank, sidecar and pillion, that said
    when he was pillion he always could properly touch the pegs
    and had a backrest, and i rode with much more care .
    The kid on the sports bike does not look safe ,no backrest
    the mother is relying on the childs ability to hang on.
    I would call it irresponsible and what is worse oi brings unwanted
    attention from the legislators.

  7. I ride my bike to work most days myself but I’m bitterly opposed to children riding pillion.
    It’s inherently dangerous riding a motorcycle and I don’t think that a child should be put in that position. In a car they at least have a chance in an accident, on a bike they’ve got no chance regardless of the skill of the rider.

    1. They have no chance sitting on the floor in a daycare centre either just ask Sophie. If a child is old enough and competent enough to ride a push bike without training wheels then they should be allowed to ride pillion.
      This maybe fatalistic but when your number is up it doesn’t matter if you are on a bike or in bed asleep no amount of cotton wool will save you.

  8. You not allowed to have a pet on your bike anymore unless in a cage which can be significantly more dangerous in an accident. Instead of a few bumps and scrapes from coming off they are now trapped inside a coffin waiting to be cremated alive or crushed to death when the bike does what bikes often do.
    People die falling out of bed in fact most people die in bed so perhaps we should ban beds of force people to wear bed belts and helmets and hivis pyjamas as some people have been run over in bed.

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