Should drivers ride light motorcycles?

moped submission mopeds light motorcycles

A new survey has found a large majority of European riders believe drivers should be allowed to ride light motorcycles up to 125cc on a full car licence.

In Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia and the Northern Territory, licensed drivers have been able to ride a 50cc scooter or moped for decades without having to do any sort of extra test.

However, in some states there are restrictions such as not carrying a pillion or riding on freeways or motorways.

Some European countries allow drivers to ride motorcycles up to 125cc and 15 horsepower such as the Honda Grom and Monkey bikes and the Kawasaki Z125 with little or no extra training or licensing.

Jake Dolan on the Honda Grom light motorcycles
Honda Grom

The Federation of European Motorcyclists’ Associations conducted a survey to see whether this should be extended to all of Europe and found riders largely agreed.

However, they say drivers should take some motorcycle lessons. There is no such requirement in Australia.

Training for light motorcycles

The Adventurists Monkey Bikes Monkey Runs Romania tall returned riders light motorcycles
Make sure the bike suits your needs … and your height!

Several rider representation groups have called for competency training for car drivers to be allowed to ride.

University safety researcher and Triumph Street Triple ride Ross Blackman confirms that many riders believe moped riders should be required to have a motorcycle licence.

“I’m not sure that this is supported by the stats, acknowledging that non-injury crashes are generally not reported,” he says.

“Something that muddies the waters here now is the rise of electric bicycles which, operationally, are similar to mopeds in terms of trip purpose etc.”

CARRS-Q QUT researcher dr Ross Blackman Motorbike online survey moped mopeds
Ross Blackman

There have been no changes to the moped rules over the past few decades, despite most states reviewing their motorcycle licensing.

A Queensland Transport and Main Roads spokesperson says a 2012 review of moped licensing found the severity of moped crashes was lower overall compared with motorcycles.

This research determined there was no requirement for changes to licensing requirements.

Crashes involving mopeds within Queensland, 1 January 2013 to 31 May 2019.

Crash severity

2013

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018

2019

Fatal

3

0

0

0

1

2

1

Hospitalisation

78

78

41

44

65

61

22

Medical treatment

56

52

45

44

34

42

18

Minor injury

10

7

8

10

11

17

6

Total crashes

147

137

94

98

111

122

Compare that with motorcycle and scooter crashes (excluding mopeds).

Crash severity 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
Fatal 42 37 54 64 50 41
Hospitalisation 930 932 968 966 935 960

However, we note that there may be significantly fewer people riding mopeds on car licences.

It is impossible to gauge exact numbers given many may only hire them.

Queensland registration statistics also don’t different mopeds from motorcycles.

Western Australia’s Department of Transport also reviewed moped licensing in 2014.

“Discontinuing moped operation on a car licence was not supported due to there being little evidence that moped riders in WA were overrepresented in crashes compared to other powered two wheelers,” a spokesperson says.

“DoT would reconsider moped operation on a car licence should data show that moped riders are overrepresented in crashes in WA, and that there was evidence to support that discontinuing the approach would result in considerable road safety benefits.”

WA registration stats show a 33% increase in moped registrations from 2011 to 2015.

“This could have been attributed to an increase in traffic congestion, lack of available parking, need for economical and convenient transport and that the holder of any valid class of driver s licence is also authorised to ride a moped,” the spokesperson says.

Pros and cons

Repsol Honda Racing Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa race mopeds
Moped racing

We can see pros and cons in allowing drivers to ride mopeds.

On the positive side, it’s great for tourist areas where foreigners can hire a moped to get around.

It also allows drivers to experience the thrill of riding and hopefully encourage them to go for their full licence.

The licensing also allows inner-city residents to get around cheaply and conveniently without the expense of a motorcycle licence they may never need.

There is also a host of great light electric motorcycles and scooters hitting the market that qualify under the moped rules.

On the negative side, we see a lot of stupid moped riders doing some dangerous and illegal things on the roads.

An example is filtering. It is illegal to filter unless you are a fully licensed rider, for a start.

Secondly, we see moped riders filter to the front of a queue of traffic at the lights only to hold everyone up when the lights go green because of their slow acceleration. 

(Maybe if they increased it from 50cc to 125cc as in Europe, this would no longer be a problem.)

Unfortunately, the ire drivers feel toward some idiot moped riders filters across to legal and sensible motorcyclists!

  • What do you think? Should moped licensing be extended to other states? Should there be some sort of competency course first? Leave your comments below.

5 Comments

  1. There should be a 125cc or 150cc scooter (automatic) limit on a car license with a max power output, but some mandatory training required to replace the “no requirement” 50cc class on car licenses. This would be much safer than a 50km/h speed restricted moped (that then most people de-restrict doing 70km/h+ anyway but is not built for that). With this there would be a low entry level relatively easy to go to but some basic training would be required instead having to go through a full LAMS license. A LAMS license now takes you 6 months minimum in WA, so many ride a 125cc without a license or just stick to their cars…. with a low entry level 125 or 150cc automatic license riders would be safer on the roads, their vehicles better equipped and it would be a significant contribution to reduce congestion and pollution as they all are 4-strokes (or electric very soon).

  2. All drivers should be taught to ride as a part of obtaining a car license not the other way around.
    Mopeds and the like that are incapable of accelerating as fast as a normal car and not capable of maintaining eighty kilometres per hour should be restricted to low speed areas only and use bike paths to avoid high speed and congested areas.

  3. I’m a motorbike rider and I believe that whether you ride a scooter or motorbike the skills and road sense required are the same. The differences are cost of the bike and the speed at which they both are able to travel. I agree with previous comments that some moped riders are idiots and do stupid things. However, mopeds are a great way to get around for tourists or for people commuting. The more there are the less cars we have on the roads.
    I believe that motorists should be educated to look out for and be mindful and patient with moped riders.
    Plus, I would rather have moped and scooter riders on our roads than cyclists who pay zero registration.

    1. Can you tell us all how much of your registration goes towards paying for roads? We can do with a good laugh at your expense.

      Here’s a clue its $0, in fact rego doesn’t even fund its own costs of administration in any state of Australia, its a subsidised system paid for by everyone even those who do not drive or own a vehicle. Roads are paid for by local government rates, PAYG, levies, taxes, GST and any other tax you can think of, certainly not rego by any measure.

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