Activate Your Premium Membership Today >

Motorcycle road rules farce nears end

Charley Boorman South Australia road rules change

Arcane road rules that affect motorcyclists and vary from state to state are gradually being addressed with South Australia 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;
  • Wearing a helmet while pushing a bike; or
  • Standing up while moving.
Charley Boorman South Australia road rules change
Hmmm, Charley Boorman, might be stretching the rules here just a little!

However, changes are occurring.

Sanity prevails

Arcane rules that require riders to be seated at all times with both feet on the footpegs were sensibly amended in Queensland in 2015, NSW in July and now South Australia (read amendments here).

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Much of the thanks for these sensible changes to outdated rules does not go to grandstanding, chest-thumping protestors, but to Australian Motorcycle Council representative Guy Stanford and other motorcycle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

GPS rules

Another rule which has been changed was in South Australia 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 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.

(Article updated from July 2016)


  1. 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.

        1. And there are separate lanes for Buses that we are allowed to move in and out of if say … a slow moving bus gets in the way. Why hasn’t anybody bothered to note here that traffic lanes have gotten thinner making it harder for bikers to thread past the barn door mirrors fitted to some vehicles just to make way for a mostly empty pushbike lane. I would like to see the pushbike lane 100metres before traffic lights be available to motorcycles as a lane filtering option when no bicycle is in that lane.

  2. 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.

  3. Tom says:
    23rd July, 2016 at 8:13 pm
    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.

    Love your choice of words Tom. DISPARITY.

    When one considers Bicycle Lanes, Bicycle paths, and the efen costs, thrown by governments at the efen Lycra brigade, lets just look at the disparity there shall we.

    As motorcyclists, we pay our way, some of us are forced by a discriminatory bigoted government to pay even more and under the disguise of a safety tax.

    We pay our share in fuel taxes, and GST, registration, insurance.

    We help the environment, by leaving less of a carbon imprint, than cars, less damage to the infrastructure than cars, we help reduce congestion. Thus helping to reduce the carbon imprint of cars around us.

    Bicycles on the other hand, do nothing more than increase the carbon imprint of cars around them and create congestion, with designated bicycle lanes, effectively robbing a lane from those that pay for the privilege.

    Do you really want to continue with the DISPARITY bullshit claim.

    I’ll ask a question. How many times have any of us ridden/driven down a road outside freak hour were one lane is a bicycle lane only, for a kilometre at a time, and not see, not one single efen bicycle using it? Meanwhile the paying road user, is in efen gridlock.

    The Lycra brigade, never seem to hassled by Mr Plod, for running red lights, and for generally behaving rather badly for a road user. Wanna talk about ya efen DISPARITY.

    How many times, have we come across a group, of bicycle riders on a nice country road, 2, 3, 4, 5 abreast, forcing oncoming traffic off to the verge of the road, as for the paying users behind, forced to join the conga line, shall we now talk about engine and fuel inefficiencies, now you are the cause of an even bigger environmental footprint, but no your so efen arrogant, belligerent, and self adsorbed, you’d battle to think past your navel.

    Bicycles riders get shitloads for nothing. F off with DISPARITY bullshit.
    Motorcyclist have to fight, for every inch we get and deserve , unlike pushies, who get a mile at a time, for nothing more than sucking the right cock.

    F off.

    Back to normal folks.

    Ride free and safe
    Grumpy old bastard

  4. 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.
    First, national laws take precedence over local laws. This is in the Australian Constitution, that where there is a conflict between state and federal laws and rules, Federal law prevails. You also cannot be disadvantaged by differing laws in differing states. Under the anti discrimination sections of the Australian Constitution. Also, in legal terms, there is a vast difference between “rules” and “laws”. That being that rules are not enforceable.
    There are several groups that bike riders can use to learn the laws. Campaign against road ripoffs, Aussie speeding fines, and the Know your rights groups being at the forefront. I suggest this site start looking at those sites and finding out just how limited police are in their “powers”.

  5. Dear All

    Australia is not a free place to live. You do not feel free, you feel oppressed…….because you are oppressed from every angle. It is true that when you say if you don’t like it then leave that’s fine and I did. I kid you not when my cocky father in law dictated to me that UK helmets are not welcome here my fate with Australia was sealed that day. If UK helmets are good enough for the half a billion people that live in the EU and the 28 countries that are part of it but not good enough for 20 million Australians then we are talking about an aloof attitude. When I ride my motorbike around the extensive road network of the UK I feel free. I ride carefully and attentively over here and enjoy the true exhilaration of riding a bike. You would be very unlucky to get a ticket riding at up to 90 mph on the motorways. If you were to be honest feeling free whilst riding in Australia has long gone.

Comments are closed.