Motorcycle road rules farce nears end

Crossing borders can be a legal nightmare

Arcane road rules that affect motorcyclists and vary from state to state are gradually being addressed with NSW the latest to see reason.

Over the past few years, these varied laws have exposed riders to being fined for:

  • Having a GPS on their bike;
  • Not wearing the correct helmet/visor;
  • Having blinkers too close together;
  • Wearing a camera/intercom on their helmet;
  • Filtering in traffic;
  • Stretching their legs while riding; or
  • Standing up while moving.
Husqvarna 650
Standing up on dirt roads is recommended by experts

However, changes are starting to occur.

Arcane rules that require riders to be seated at all times with both feet on the footpegs were sensibly amended in Queensland last year and have now been addressed in NSW. The updated NSW road rules also now allow riders to push their motorcycle without having to wear a helmet.

Over the past year, helmet laws have also become uniform with European-standard helmets now allowed, although there are still grey areas concerning tinted visors, and fitting cameras and Bluetooth intercoms.

Much of the thanks for these sensible changes to outdated rules does not go to grandstanding, chest-thumping protestors, but to Australian Motorcycle Council representative Guy Stanford and other motorcycle representatives who have been quietly working behind the scenes, attending lengthy and boring meetings with relevant state and national bodies for the past few years.

These tedious meetings are slowly, but surely, ironing out disparities in vehicle standards, road rules, helmet laws, exhaust noise and so on.

“I think we are on the path to resolution,” Guy says. “We just need co-operation between the states or continued confusion and anarchy will rein.”

Bike GPS
Motorbike GPS

Another rule which has recently been changed was in South Australian were it was illegal to have a “visual display unit in or on the vehicle while it’s moving” which meant you couldn’t legally have a GPS or phone mounted on your bike. This was despite the fact that the Australian Design Rules allow visual display units.

While Motorcycle Riders Association of South Australia president Phil McLelland confirmed that nobody had been prosecuted for the offence, the police went so far as to alert officers via their newsletter and riders were verbally warned to remove their GPS or phone.

The rule has now been amended to allow them to be mounted on a bike, but you can’t hold them in your hand while moving.

Guys says national rules don’t have any “force of law” in each state, leaving it up to the “mean-spirited attitude of police” in some states to enforce errant rules. “That is just mean-spirited and not the intent of the road rules.”

We thank Guy and other behind-the-scenes rider representatives for their diligence in pursuing our rights.



  1. Al, in Qld you can use up to 50mtrs of the bike lane before a set of traffic lights. I’m not sure travelling in a bike lane with flowing traffic would be all that safe in my opinion and would we get the 1mtr distance rule like cyclists?

    1. Sorry, but you can’t do that. You can use up to 50 m to enter or leave the road (this does not mean turning left at the lights), or to park where allowed. You can’t “filter”between a vehicle and the kerb and you can’t use bicycle lanes. You can only use the shoulder if the posted speed limit is above 90kph.

  2. One rule I’d like to see go is not being allowed to use a cycle lane.
    It’s a bike lane for satans sake what do we ride buses?
    Road rules are there so that everyone can use the road and have some idea of what to do and thus have an idea of what others should be doing. They are not there to generate revenue or to control what needs no control.
    I think it’s about time the authorities stop just chanting speed kills and fining people and start educating people as to what the road rules are and why it’s a good idea to obey them.
    The ones that aren’t just there because some nanny thought they were a good idea that is.

    1. You can’t use bike-lanes because you have an engine. It’s because of the disparity in weight, speed and acceleration between bikes and motor-vehicles (like motor-bikes) that there are separate lanes for motorised and non-motorised traffic.

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