Should we ban learner drivers from bike roads?

Ban learner drivers from bike roads?

Should learner drivers be banned for narrow, twisting and dangerous motorcycle roads for the benefit and safety of the learner and motorcycle riders?

Learner drivers should be avoided at all costs. If you think most car drivers don’t see motorcycles, then it is 10 times worse for learner drivers.

We all have to learn at some stage and it is important that we exercise some patience and caution with learner drivers.

If a learner obstructs your progress, stay back, but give them a gentle beep on the horn or a flash of the lights so they know you’re there.

What really annoys us here at Motorbike Writer is when experienced, licensed drivers take learners (often their children or a relative) to well-known motorcycle roads to practise.

These supposedly experienced drivers could be forgiven if the reason for choosing a motorcycle road is to make their “student” aware of motorcycles on the road.

However, the behaviour of these “instructors” seems to suggest they just don’t care.

This is one of the inherent problems with licensing requirements of a certain number of hours with an “instructor”. That instructor could be a parent with bad driving skills and even road rage issues!

Learner drivers with no idea

On several occasions, we have witnessed learner drivers on narrow, twisting motorcycle roads and they (and their instructor) usually don’t have any idea we are there.

If they did, surely the instructor would suggest they pull over or indicate for a rider to go around them.

Instead, they hold up riders and other traffic in a dangerous display of learner ignorance and instructor arrogance.

This causes riders immense frustration and often leads to dangerous overtaking which can also startle a learner driver and put them in an equally dangerous situation.

While we want learner drivers to experience as many different road conditions as possible, motorcycle roads are, by their very nature, narrower and twistier than other roads and therefore more dangerous.

Perhaps it is time to ban learner car drivers from popular motorcycle roads, at least on weekends when these roads are crowded with riders.

Or better still, train the trainers properly. To all parents of learners, please instruct your child to look for riders and to have some consideration.

33 Comments

  1. seriously, can we just be done with it and ban stupid people!? going up Mt glorious (arhhhhhh) on the back of my mates bonny. one of our fav rides in brissy and we get stuck behind a P-plater on a saturday. lucky my mate is way experienced. so this person is going up in 1st gear looking for the gears, wandering across the road. Now saturday, Mt glorious, lots of bikes. (as most of you know) so she goes around an awesome hair pin bend ends up on the other side of the road about to take off down the side of the mountain when she overcorrects and i am sure they are gunna slam into the mountain and she or the hopeless instructor got her to stop. well the mountain face sort of stopped her first. we went past as six bikes come howling down the other side. 30 secs earlier and some of us would have been road kill!!! I am an L-plater bike rider, I am 60, and in my car… all the world is a racetrack. however i am an L-plate bike rider. i look forward to Mt glorious but i aint doing her any time soon. oh and mt morgan sigh drool, oh sorry, got a bit distracted… we cannot ban L-plate drivers but possibly the nrma type people could get um a not recommended for L plate drivers sign. or we could paint on the road “f**k off L plate drivers, bugger it, No CAGES allowed or cyclists until tomorrow! my mate and me we have fantasies of mt glorious and mt morgan being closed off and just allow motorcycle bike riders on for the day… ohhhh distracted again and the gillies and…
    it also helps if the instructor knows how to drive too… stay upright!

  2. Well, I agree with the author.

    Many have commented that there is no such thing as a motorcycle road. They base that assertion on there being no black letter distinction in road, traffic and highway laws distinguishing any particular road as a ‘motorcycle road’. However, this is false on two grounds:

    1) There may be motorcycle-only roads in the UK or in Europe where a round blue sign with a white symbol in the centre forbids any vehicles but motorcycles. It’s ludicrous to imply that any one person commenting here has such a comprehensive knowledge of all the roads of Europe, or even just the UK, to be able to say, definitively, that a road with exclusive access to motorcycles simply doesn’t exist.
    2) Even if there is no black letter distinction in road, traffic and highway laws distinguishing any particular road as a ‘motorcycle road’, there may be many de facto ‘motorcycle roads’ that have comparatively large volumes of motorcycle traffic. We might therefore define a ‘motorcycle road’ not as a road exclusive to motorcycles but rather as a road preferred by motorcycle riders with a high volume of motorcycle traffic. Using this definition, there are obviously numerous motorcycle roads throughout the country.

    The basic argument presented in this article is sound. If we take our world to be as we find it, and not as it ‘ought to be’ according to the stiff, artificial and formulaic Highway Code, we may note that not everyone obeys the 2-second rule, hand signals are largely redundant, you never see sidecars, etc. In other words, the Highway Code describes a fictional, ‘ideal’ road network (circa 1965, perhaps). On the roads as we find them, and as they actually are in the real world, we observe many things. For example, they’re overcrowded, everyone is speeding, people often fail to indicate and break traffic laws, etc. In addition, motorcyclists in the real world practise their skills on certain rural roads perceived to be safer than urban ones. On those roads, learner car drivers are a hazard to motorcyclists stretching their personal limits. Real life FACT.

    1. 1. this may be the case in Europe but we are in Australia where there are no designated motorcycle roads.

      2. Yes it has been stated that there are roads favoured by motor cyclists; however this does not give them exclusive or preferred rights to these public roads.

      I feel the ‘basic argument’ is in no way sound, to ban learner drivers from public roads is absurd; why should learners be banned, just because some motorbike rider doesn’t want to slow down? I would suggest if some motorcycle riders want to travel around a road at speed and not have to slow down or worry about other drivers they book themselves time on a track such as Eastern Creek in Sydney.

  3. I’ve never read such dribble in my life as this whole article – yes lets ban gays and cripples and people over 65 while we are at it. Firstly as has been pointed out there is no such thing as a motor cycle road, there may be some roads that motor cycle riders like to ride on but so what. Secondly a lot (if not the majority) of car drivers probably have no idea which roads are popular with motor cyclists ( I’ve never seen a road sign that indicates such roads) so how are they going to avoid them. Thirdly the big push for many years is that Learner drivers need to experience a wide range of conditions and roadways, windey roads would be an example. And as for getting motorcyclist to flash lights and beep horns, well that’s a genius idea bound to scare the learner driver who would either suddenly hit the brakes or steer off the road. I would venture to say whoever wrote this article has not attempted to teach someone to drive a car. Learner drivers make mistakes, keep a safe distance – if this means you have to slow down and putter along at 40 KPH for awhile so be it. learner drivers have as much right on a public ride as any other user.

    1. Couldn’t agree more Geoff.

      Following on:

      We were all learners once, and I for one can remember how terrifying it was when I had to face the old ‘Gabba Fiveways for the first time in peak hour. }:-O
      I looked no different to other drivers, but even after I stalled a couple of times, nobody blasted their horns or flashed lights in that ugly, selfish, American fashion.

      Learners need space and a bit of understanding, not harassment by a driver/rider with their hair on fire. (I reserve that for the other classes of road users we all know so well. Grrrr).

      Fair dinkum, the earth won’t stop turning just because I couldn’t sweep through a few favourite corners this morning … |:-\

      Mark and Co should professional driving for a while; all traffic, all weather, all seasons, 12 hrs/day. You get a very quick lesson in driving Zen. If you don’t heed it, you’ll burn out. Just realise there are going to be good days and bad days.

      🙂

      1. To get the parent instructors off the road I think we should be scrapping the mandatory 100 hours / 12 month learning period & enforcing competency based evaluation by accredited driver training organisations. Whilst I am not against power restrictions for P platers I find it ludicrous that as an example a P Plater can drive a standard Ford Falcon but not an XR6 when both from the factory have the same engine?

  4. Excuse the semantics, but the opening sentence of the article seems to me to be more sarcastic than ‘ironic’. In any case, I think it was too subtle, and I’m obviously not the only one to have initially interpreted it as a serious suggestion. It’s a mistake I’ve also made myself more than once on electronic media.
    Anyway, we do all have to learn to drive and ride in a variety of environments and conditions. That includes environments where there are learner drivers, where one of the key skills for other road users to develop is patience. Some parents will no doubt model bad driving behaviour and/or give poor advice, but surely the main thing is that their ‘students’ don’t crash. In fact, learner drivers have a much lower crash rate than any other licence category, so something appears to be working there. It is often when they graduate to the next level, unsupervised, that they – as well as other road users – are really at greater risk. Personally, I’d be more wary of the P-plater than the Learner!

  5. I do more miles on a bike than most of the keyboard jockeys here, & L platers & P platers & elderly people give me no probs whatsoever.
    It’s the 90% of Australians who consider themselves above average drivers
    age between 30 & 50
    sitting on the speed limit, blocking the right lane & moaning about motorcycles who are the problem.

  6. No license without professional training for both, riders and drivers, period!

    Driving/riding is a privilege, not a human right, you have to earn it.

  7. There are two things I’d like to see happen.
    One nobody gets a car license without spending two years worth of experience on a bike. Even those who physically cannot ride should get a minimum of a hundred hours in a simulator as a rider before getting a license.
    Two no one be able to instruct without passing a road craft and rules refresher test and a basic instructors course.
    One of the main components of that course will be identifying appropriate training locations and times.

  8. In order to teach any course at a training institute the instructor even if a PHD has to have a cert 4 in training and assessment. Why do we still allow inexperienced family members to teach their own kids all the things they get wrong themselves.
    Professional instructors teaching the right way to drive and or ride is the only way to reduce p plate deaths.

  9. The only thing that should be banned is, parents teaching their kids to drive, the only thing it perpetuates is bad driving, to worse, period, end of story.

    1. Hi Dai,
      Perhaps, because you obviously missed the irony of banning people from certain roads.
      The intent is to stimulate discussion about how our learners are so badly taught and also to caution riders about giving learners space and politely alerting them to their presence.
      Cheers,
      Mark

      1. Where’s the “irony” in suggesting something that just can’t be done?

        Trimming is The issue, but not for The obvious reasons.

        The government stance on driver and rider training is that drivers and riders should only get the bare basics in training.

        The reasons are twofold:

        1. The government types argue that if riders and drivers have advanced driver and rider training, they will treat the roads like a racetrack. (Of course, there’s no evidence to suggest this will be the case. )

        2. Drivers/Riders without
        advanced training make many mistakes that assist with long term revenue raising. (After all, if you solve the issue of excessive road trauma, you’ve killed the enforcement cash cow. )

        1. hi dai,
          You are right. Politicians seem to think that the more we learn about driving/riding the more dangerous we will be.
          Just as well they don’t have the same attitude to schools.
          By the way, irony is described as expressing meaning by “using language that normally signifies the opposite, typically for humorous or emphatic effect”. looks like I failed to be ironic enough!
          Cheers,
          Mark

  10. What is a “motorcycle road”… last i checked we don’t have caveat over any stretch of road despite our egos perhaps telling us otherwise. Does that then imply that there would also be “car roads”, “bicycle roads” that we should be avoiding?
    Drivers need to be taught in the twisty roads of the hills so that they can learn to drive on real roads, but perhaps they aren’t the problem… perhaps its the riders who think that they have “motorcycle roads” and put themselves above other road users in some self serving holier than thou mindset.
    Self entitled much

    1. Hi BikerChique,
      Absolutely! In fact, they don’t think of these roads as their roads, but as their race tracks.
      The article clearly points out that they should politely make their presence known.
      We’re being ironic about bans … but we’re serious that instructor training needs to be improved!
      Cheers,
      Mark

    1. Hi Russ,

      Too true, but too many riders think they own the road and use it as a racetrack.
      Like I’ve said in previous replies to comments here, we’re being ironic in suggesting a ban, but we are serious about riders behaving with courtesy to learners and vice versa.
      Cheers,
      Mark

  11. No. But we should restrict them to 4cylinders, 1.5l and no passengers. (just an instructor or parent). So many kids, driving “the rig” at 80kmh, with the whole family inside, during school holidays. Bad, bad idea.
    And before anyone chimes in with the whole “it’s expensive to buy a second car, that meets those restrictions, just for just a learner…”
    No. Do you think the police or governments would allow your 18yo to ride a hayabusa with L plates? Even if you were right behind them? No. So why is it ok for learners to “learn” in cars, they legally can’t drive on their P’s, with more passengers than they would be legally allowed to carry, just because it’s the “family car”? I know when my kids want to ride, I’m going to purchase an appropriate motorcycle for them and help them get proper roadcraft lessons. The excuse of “it’s the family motorcycle” won’t cut it.

      1. Doubt it. School holidays, alot of xr6/8s, SS commodores, v8 4wds, Audi’s, BMW’s, lexus tanks cruising around with L plates and the entire family in the car. There are restrictions once on their P’s. (engine, power rating, passenger limits, max speeds, etc). But L-plates ignore that so long as mum or dad are beside you.
        What really gets my goat, is there is no test to go from your p’s (basically a restricted car pwr to weight ratio) straight into a v8 or performance car. Yet on a motorcycle, you have to physically prove you can ride a bigger motor (paying $$$ too) and meet more restrictions. For drivers, 2 or so years driving a Hyundai Excel and you can legally drive a Ferrari, with no test to prove you can handle the performance. Just an arbitrary time period.

  12. Unfortunately it just isn’t possible to ban Learner drivers from any road and the claim that a road is a “motorcyclist” road will only aggravate those motorcyclist hating drivers we already have to put up with every day.
    I do like the concept in theory but in real life it just wouldn’t work, however having taught 2 children of my own to drive I would like to see courses run to help parents who have to teach their children learn to drive. Some bad habits by driving parents are retained by their own children because they are taught by their parents and that is why I also made my kids also have lessons from qualified driving instructors.

  13. No, absolutely not. Reason, learners need to experience a wide variety of roads and conditions. While under instruction they can be shown how to drive on these roads. It is up to us, the licensed riders and drivers to extent extra consideration to L plates as a good example. What goes around comes around.

    1. Exactly right! I see L plates, I give them space, and pass at a moderate speed (making sure they watch the bike creep past). I don’t get angry, don’t honk and don’t try to pressure them to speed up. (after all, the whole family is usually inside). I just drop the pace, leave a space and cruise. Ain’t that what it’s all about?

  14. As both a novice rider and driver teacing another to drive I do beleive that banning a set demographic from roads, especially ones that are learning and if being taught well could learn a lot from the experiance, even if it does scare them at times. To ban them from motorcycle roads on a time that would probably be the only time they probably could travel those roads will lead to missed opportunities to learn and/or gain experiance on some difficult roads while under instruction and possibly learn how to interact with bikers (we the people who ride) while on the road

    1. Hi Campbell,
      We are actually failing to be obviously ironic when we suggest banning certain roads.
      The idea was to stimulate discussion about sharing the road and acknowledging each other’s presence.
      Seems it certainly has stimulated discussion! At least we got that bit right, eh?
      Cheers,
      Mark

  15. I have no problem sharing the road with learners, they may slow us down a little at times but I would say they are giving more attention to the conditions than the Mum & Dad drivers chatting away to each other and not giving full attention to the road and other users. When following learners, I hang back a little and position myself in their mirrors and look for safe overtaking area after I have seen them see me. Simple.

    1. Hi Russ,
      It makes you wonder what the instructor is doing alf the time, doesn’t it?
      Yes, hang back and give them space!
      By the way, we are not really suggesting certain roads be banned … we were trying to be ironic.
      Cheers,
      Mark

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