An online petition is seeking to allow car drivers with a full licence to ride a trike without needing a motorcycle licence, much like some states allow drivers to ride 50cc scooters.
The petition, started by BRP who make the Can-Am Spyder three-wheeler roadster, has so far attracted more than 500 signatures.
BRP Asia-Pacific GM Gregoire Dupont says the trike market is not huge, so he is happy with the response.
“If you look at the comments on the petition, the common theme is that they don’t want to have to learn to ride a two-wheeler just to ride a three-wheeler,” he says. “It’s a confidence issue. It’s also a big issue among women who want to be able to ride alongside their partners.”
BRP began lobbying AustRoads for licence changes, but were told it was a state issue, so they have since been lobbying the states with varying levels of success.
The most successful is South Australia where you can write for an exemption. If they agree to the exemption, open car licence holders can complete a basic two-wheeler course. That gets them a learner’s permit to drive a trike on an L plate as it is exempt from the LAMS scheme.
“They are leading the game when it comes to making the assessment for a trike licence a little more simpler,” David says. “When the rider feels comfortable – which could be as soon as two weeks – they can book in and do a full trike assessment which gives them an R class motorcycle licence, trike restricted.”
David says that provision in the SA law had already existed, but was not known nor promoted. BRP plans to promote it by offering buyers subsidies to do the course.
BRP had been making some headway with the West Australian transport minister, but he was sacked and David says they are now back to square one.
NSW is considering BRP’s submission under its review of vehicle registrations. “We are still waiting for the outcome of that review,” David says.
“Queensland says a trike is a bike, is a bike, is a bike and have their heads firmly in the sand. Yet there is the gross inconsistency in Queensland where you can ride a 50cc scooter on an open car licence.”
David says VicRoads does not see a need to change licensing because they believe there is such a low demand for a special trike licence.
Trike-only licences should exist for those who do not want to ride a motorcycle. Some people may not have the balance or skills required to ride a motorcycle, others may be scared of riding or lack the required confidence, while some may have physical disabilities that prevent them from riding a two-wheeler.
So why should they be prevented from riding a trike?
In fact, car drivers might have better skills for riding trikes than motorcycle riders.
Trikes don’t require counter steering like a motorcycle. The driver/rider steers the handlebars in the direction they want to go.
That makes trikes easier for car drivers to steer straight than for motorcyclists who are constantly fighting their counter-steering tendencies.
BRP also says their trike – or roadster because it has two wheels at the front rather than the rear – is also safer than a motorcycle because it has a lot of car-like driver aids such as traction control, as well as other aids that stop it rolling over.
Several countries now have special trike licences or provisions for car drivers to operate a trike.
New Zealand has no licence for a three-wheeler, so you can ride on an open car licence. “You can go to New Zealand on holidays, hire a trike and go for a ride,” says David.
Quebec in Canada, allows open car licence holders to ride a trike after completing a special one-day test. California and Idaho don’t even require any extra tests. Some European countries have car licence requirements and some require motorcycle licences.
“But it’s becoming less restrictive as time goes on,” says David.