Upcoming changes to road rules for motorcycle riders
A number of changes to road rules affecting motorcycle riders in Queensland will commence on 1 February 2015. The changes were proposed in the Motorcycle Discussion Paper: Road Rules for Motorcycle Riders, released in 2014, and are related to lane filtering, motorcycle control and motorcycle helmets.
Please note that the current rules and penalties for riding a motorcycle in Queensland will remain in place until the changes commence on 1 February 2015.
Reasons for the road rule changes
Motorcycle riders, motorcycle associations and members of the general community have frequently asked for clarification of the rules for lane filtering and other motorcycle related issues encountered in everyday riding.
The discussion paper and accompanying online survey were released for community feedback for a 6-week period in mid-2014.
The 3 topics considered in the discussion paper were:
- introducing lane filtering
- simplifying motorcycle control rules
- broadening the approved motorcycle helmet standards.
Over 9,000 responses to the Discussion Paper were received, with the majority of respondents indicating support for the proposed changes.
The changes to rules for motorcycle riders are based on a review of this community feedback, road safety research and practices in other jurisdictions.
These new rules will only apply in Queensland. Motorcycle riders riding interstate should check the relevant rules with the relevant licensing authority.
Lane filtering is riding a motorcycle at low speeds between stationary or slow moving vehicles travelling in the same direction as the rider. It is often already practised by motorcycle riders in Queensland, especially when traffic is congested, however they run the risk of breaking various road rules when doing so, such as not staying within a marked lane or changing lanes without signalling.
New lane filtering rules for Queensland
Commencing on 1 February 2015, riders with an open licence for riding a motorcycle will be allowed to move between stationary or slow moving vehicles travelling in the same direction as the rider, provided they are not travelling at more than 30km/h and it is safe to do so.
Learner and provisional riders will not be allowed to lane filter because of their relatively limited on-road driving and riding experience.
If done safely, lane filtering may ease traffic congestion for all road users, allowing motorcycle riders to move quickly and safely away from congested traffic.
Lane filtering safely
Motorcycle riders will be prohibited from lane filtering in school zones during school zone hours.
Motorcycle riders will be advised to always look out for pedestrians and cyclists when lane filtering. It will also be recommended that a motorcycle rider should not lane filter near heavy vehicles or buses due to the safety risk as drivers of heavy vehicles and buses may have trouble seeing motorcycles.
Riding on road shoulders and kerbside
From 1 February 2015, on major roads, such as motorways, freeways and highways where the speed limit is 90km/hr or more, a rider who holds an open licence for riding a motorcycle will be allowed to ride past stationary or slow moving traffic at speeds not greater than 30km/hr on the road shoulder (the sealed area of a road to the left or right of an edge line) or in an emergency stopping lane. A motorcycle rider will be required to give way to cyclists or motorcycle riders already on the road shoulder. Riding on a road shoulder will not be allowed on roads with lower speed limits where there may be more pedestrian activity and it may pose a greater road safety risk to pedestrians.
To ensure pedestrian safety, lane filtering will only be allowed between stationary or slow moving vehicles and not between a vehicle and the kerb.
Motorcycle riders in bicycle storage areas and bicycle lanes
From 1 February 2015, motorcycle riders will be allowed to enter bicycle storage areas (the areas of road close to an intersection with traffic lights that allows cyclists to wait in front of vehicles stopped at the intersection, and usually painted green with white bicycle symbols). This will allow them to move quickly and safely away from traffic.
Motorcycle riders are not allowed to ride in bicycle lanes in normal circumstances and this will not change. However, all vehicles, including motorcycles, can travel for up to 50m in a bicycle lane in various special circumstances, such as to stop or park in the lane, to enter or leave a road, or to avoid an obstruction.
Lane splitting is a term sometimes used for riding a motorcycle at speed through moving traffic. The higher speed increases the unpredictability of motorcycle movements and so would increase the crash risk for the rider and other road users, including pedestrians and cyclists. In Queensland lane filtering at over 30km/hr will be prohibited and penalties will apply.
Penalties for breaking lane filtering rules
From 1 February 2015, an offence for breaking lane filtering rules (such as lane filtering at over 30km/hr or in a school zone during school zone hours) will be introduced, with an on-the-spot fine of $341 and 3 demerit points. There will be a maximum penalty of $2277 if the matter goes before a court.
The current rules and penalties will remain in place until the changes commence on 1 February 2015.
Lane filtering elsewhere in Australia
New South Wales has already introduced lane filtering following a trial conducted in Sydney in 2013, and the Australian Capital Territory has announced a 2-year trial of lane filtering commencing in February 2015. Motorcycle riders should note that the rules in these and other jurisdictions differ from the Queensland rules. Before riding interstate, motorcycle riders should check the relevant rules with the licensing authority in any jurisdiction where they are riding.
New rules for controlling a motorcycle
Currently, the rider of a motorcycle that is moving or stationary but not parked must sit astride their seat facing forwards and ride with at least one hand on the handlebars. When the motorcycle is moving they must keep both feet on the footrests. These rules can cause practical difficulties for motorcycle riders.
From 1 February 2015, these strict rules about how a motorcycle rider must sit and where they have their hands and feet will be removed, allowing motorcycle riders to, for example, remove a foot from the footrests to stretch a leg or raise themselves from the seat when riding on uneven road surfaces.
Motorcycle riders will still be required to be astride their seat, meaning that they must have one leg on either side of the seat when riding.
Penalties will continue to apply to ensure that motorcycle riders have proper control of their motorcycle, ride with due care and attention and do not operate their motorcycle dangerously.
Reasons for the changes
The strict rules about how a motorcycle rider must sit and where they must have their hands and feet were intended to give riders clear guidelines on how to control their motorcycle and also to prevent unsafe riding, such as stunt riding.
However these strict rules sometimes interfere with the everyday practicalities of riding a motorcycle. For example, a rider removing their feet from the footrests to reverse into a parking space, stretching a leg to avoid fatigue, turning their head to do a shoulder check or raising themselves from the seat when riding on uneven road surfaces may unintentionally be breaking the current rules.
There are broader laws in place about proper control of a motorcycle and not riding carelessly or dangerously that already prohibit unsafe riding, making these strict rules about where a motorcycle rider must have their hands and feet unnecessary.
What about pillion passengers
Some of the changes will also apply to pillion passengers from 1 February 2015. They will still be required to be astride the seat and face forwards but will be able to raise themselves from the seat or stretch a leg without breaking the rules.
Penalties for breaking the motorcycle control rules
Penalties will continue to apply where motorcycle riders do not comply with the rules. If a motorcycle rider or pillion passenger breaks the new rules after they are introduced in early 2015, they may receive a fine of $151. Broader laws will continue to be enforced to ensure motorcycle riders have proper control of their motorcycle, ride with due care and attention and do not operate their motorcycle dangerously.
Motorcycle control rules elsewhere in Australia
Different rules will apply in other jurisdictions about how a motorcycle rider must sit and where they must have their hands and feet. Before riding interstate, motorcycle riders and pillion passengers should check the rules with the licensing authority in any jurisdiction where they are riding.
New rules for motorcycle helmets
Currently, motorcycle riders on Queensland roads are required to wear a helmet that complies with Australian standard AS1698 or AS/NZS1698. From 1 February 2015, the range of motorcycle helmets approved for use in Queensland will be expanded to include those complying with the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (ECE) 22.05 standard.
Reasons for the changes
For road safety reasons, all motorcycle riders on Queensland roads must wear an approved motorcycle helmet securely fitted and fastened on their head. Restricting available helmets to those that meet Australian standards limits the range of helmets available and sometimes the sizing is unsuitable, particularly for people with larger heads. Helmets meeting ECE standards have a similar safety record to those meeting Australian standards, so from 1 February 2015 the range of helmets approved for use in Queensland will be expanded to include those that meet the ECE 22.05 standard.
What about motorcycle passengers
From 1 February 2015, pillion and sidecar passengers will also be able to wear helmets complying with the ECE 22.05 standard, in addition to helmets complying with the Australian standards.
Buying a helmet meeting the European standard
Australian consumer law currently restricts the sale of helmets in Australia to those that comply with Australian standards so it would be an offence for a retailer to sell other helmets. However, Queenslanders will be able to legally buy helmets meeting the ECE 22.05 standard through international online retailers or if they are travelling overseas.
Penalties for breaking the motorcycle helmet rules
A fine of $341 and 3 demerit points will continue to apply to motorcycle riders or passengers who break the motorcycle helmet rules. Double demerit points will still apply for second or subsequent offences within a 12-month period of failing to wear a helmet.
Helmet labels and stickers
To make sure the helmets meet the ECE 22.05 standard and to support enforcement activities, helmets approved under the standard will be required to display a label certifying compliance with the standard. The regulations governing the ECE 22.05 standard currently require the display of such labels (for example, a sticker on the outside of the helmet or a stitched label on the inside of the helmet). The label will resemble the label in the diagram below but may contain any number from 1 upwards.
E1 (inside a circle)
Helmet standards elsewhere in Australia
Currently other Australian states and territories only allow helmets approved under Australian standards, although some jurisdictions are reviewing helmet standards. Motorcycle riders and passengers should be aware that after Queensland has expanded its helmet range from 1 February 2015, it will still be an offence to wear a helmet approved under the ECE 22.05 standard when riding in other Australian states or territories.
02 January 2015