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Rider defends standing on footpegs

Should you jump start a dead bike? standing

A young rider has successfully defended a fine for standing on the footpegs after NSW police deemed it unsafe.

Over the past couple of years, all Australians states have changed the road rules to allow motorcycle riders to stand on the footpegs, with the caveat “when it is safe to do so”, or similar wording.

Motorcycle Council of NSW representative Guy Stanford says the road rule “safety” wording is “sloppy” and “waters down” the rule.

Guy Stanford - Mobile phone while riding - darrk visor helmets filtering laws autonomous standing
Guy and his V-Strom

Similar wording is included in many other road rules, including lane filtering. Guy says the vague wording means police can use their opinion to harass and fine riders.

The change to the road rules allowing riders to stand on the footpegs, among other “control” amendments, was the result of advocacy by the Australian Motorcycle Council (AMC) and its state affiliates.

So when a young rider near the end of his P-plate period was fined for standing on the footpegs of his LAMS KTM dirt bike on Henry Lawson Drive, East Hills Park, the MCC NSW decided to test it in court this week.

They won!

senate inquiry into road safety
Ironically, NSW Police standing on the footpegs

This is from Guy’s report to the MCC NSW delegates on the test case:

Traffic is sparse. He stands on the pegs and continues through the McLaurin Ave lights, which are green. A Highway Patrol car waiting behind cars stopped in McLaurin sees him go by and pursues, writing him a ticket for, essentially, being unsafe. 

He contacted the MCC of NSW.

We put him in touch with Kalpage & Co Solicitors and also provided to them, the reasoning and background submissions from AMC used to support changes to the road rule to allow standing on pegs. 

The rider took the matter to court and won his case, all charges dismissed.

Yes, it cost him a few grand to defend.

The problem is that the wording in the road rule allows an opinion of what is “safe”.

This means the law can be applied by police in an unjust manner.

If you simply pay the fine, then you have admitted guilt and agreed that what you were doing was not safe.

In this case, an injustice at law has been addressed, as the solicitor prepared the case well and was able to demonstrate to the court that it was not “unsafe”.

This is where a good solicitor earns their fee. 

Court procedures can be complex to navigate and it takes skill to conduct a good argument and avoid traps or misdirection. Standing on the footpegs

What does this mean for riders?

Guy says riders will have to assess the safety of their actions whenever they choose to stand on the footpegs.

Standing on the footpegs on a dirt road as pictured above should be fine, but Guy says riders should ask themselves the question: “What will this look like in court?”

“Some may argue I should have asked ‘is this safe?’,” he says.

“A good rider is a good risk manager and would not attempt something that was not safe.

“We’re all adults here.”

  1. So he’s a “few grand” down then. And there’s the rub. Police, parking rangers etc wantonly issue dodgy fines knowing full well that for you to take the time off work to contest them will cost you more than the monetary value of the fine. More so if a solicitor is involved, which is why most people reluctantly pay up and cop it sweet. It’s the perfect revenue raising system.

    1. Yes, the attitude of certain senior NSW police is “we will write the ticket and let the courts decide”

      This attitude is applied even when it has been pointed out to them that their “interpretation” of the rules is clearly incorrect. They know full well the costs of challenging a fine are so high very few people will do so.

      It is well past time that it is explained to these officers that the attitude is wrong and does not meet the code of conduct which they have agreed to which is to treat the public in a fair manner

  2. In all instances of receiving any kind of infringement notice (except where you were blatantly flouting the law and are probably on camera doing so) you should write a letter to the relevant authority explaining that you were not braking any rules or that you had a justification for doing so that is a recognised excuse for doing so.
    An example of which is being fined for parking in a clear way when your vehicle has broken down , you write a letter and with a copy of a receipt for towing or road service call out or something and request a court appearance if they won’t cancel the fine. If you do this it will go one of three ways they cancel the fine it takes to long and they cancel the fine or your letter gets put in front of the magistrate and if they’re reasonable cancels the fine. This is the cheapest thing to do and the quickest as even if it goes to court it is usually decided on the day, all other options require multiple appearances and legal fees.

  3. The if safe to do so clause is a double edged sword it both gives you permission to do things that are normally not legal but it also gives police a licence to extract revenue and harass.
    Now some things are clearly not safe and should never be done unless there are worse consequences for not doing them. Like jumping from a burning building into a pool even if you’re likely to miss it’s better than burning to death.
    Crossing double centre lines on a blind bend to overtake a cyclist is something that’s not safe to do but on a straight with a clear line of sight and only enough to give them their metre is quite often safe. So the question has to be asked of that cop what made it unsafe for the rider to stand on the pegs? I doubt very much he could supply an acceptable answer.

  4. We should consider as motorcyclists crowd funding the cost of defending these charges both now and in the future until the laws are changed. After all, it could be us next.

  5. Can we have the material that was relied on to show it was safe?

    Or is there a summary of the key points that were used to defend the case somewhere?


  6. As has been pointed out by others here the wording of “safe to do so” which although makes a statement of intent is a very lazy term when included in legislation as are others like “reasonably believes” as they are far to open to personal interpretation or belief and representations from the main motorcycle advocacy groups have been made to legislators to better clarify any situation where these words have been used.
    When these terms are not used by law enforcement in the spirit of their intent the problem of wrongful application of a law arises.
    Anyone that is effected by what they believe to be an unjust application of any of the vague terms used in legislation should always remember that although many attempts by politicians and their legal advisors are currently being made to do away with the concept of innocent until proven guilty the system applied to Road Rule infringements if taken to court is that the principle is still the basis of what will happen in court.
    Should a person decide to take the court option then the case will be run on the basis that the prosecution must prove guilt and although it is always advantages to have a counter for any possible prosecution(police) arguments it is not the responsibility of the defendant to prove their innocence.
    In reference to the case mentioned in this story it was dependent on the police to prove that at the time of the alleged offense it was not a safe time to do so. As has been noted the “safe to do” term so is a double edged sword and it may will be as hard for the police to prove as it would be for the defendant to disprove.
    Anyone that chooses to take the court option should always approach the matter on the basis of is it going to be reasonably possible for the police to prove the offense rather than thinking that they have to disprove it and should not be intimidated by the belief that just because the police have issued an infringement they must be right and therefore it would be useless to fight the notice any further.
    The more people that, if reasonably possible, challenge an unjust infringement the more weight of support goes to the requests from advocacy groups to correct badly written legislation.

  7. I must add this to the above, the poor fellow is out of pocket $2,000 for a win in court???? $2,000 is a lot of Jack Daniels for me or new ridding gear,phone,GPS, or a trip to the Island to see Jack Miller ride, with heaps of change left over for new tyres and take the wife out for dinner.
    The only winner was the solicitors!
    If you do your home work and get your facts together you can represent your self in court,
    yes you can, but be prepared (eg, go and sit in a court room near your local court house and see how it operates take notes it ain’t rocket science).
    You have to be precise and stick to your script.
    It will surprise you what you can do if you go outside your comfort zone, I have saved myself several $1,000’s of $ doing it my self with good results in my favour to boot for me.
    I look at it this way I ain’t paying someone to make a fool out myself, when i can quite capable do it myself.

  8. If standing up creates lack of control how come the ultimate test of motorcycle control ie: trials riding where modern bikes have no seat at all.

  9. I stand on the pegs all the time to look ahead on intersections where I can’t see the cars trying to merge on my lane because other cars are blocking my line of sight. My rule is to do whatever is needed to avoid and accident, no matter if I have to brake the law, I’d rather pay a ticket than nurse broken bones, loose a limb, or loose my life.

  10. Admitting guilt does NOT mean you agree what you did is unsafe. That is a really really long bow to draw, and in my understanding, utter nonsense!
    As the article points out, what is safe is open to interpretation, and until a court clearly defines this, any such offences should be canceled and fines paid refunded.

  11. Maybe it’s about time for ‘authorities’ to be made accountable for their actions where the action has been challenged and won by the other party. It is totally unacceptable that an officer, either through ignorance or for any other reason, is unable to defend the decision to issue a fine yet the ‘winner’ of the court case has to pay costs.

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