Back in 2015, new motorcycle laws were introduced, aiming to keep riders safer and driver more aware of riders on our roads. This came as a huge relief for motorcycle community who have often sought clarification on the previous laws governing the use of motorbikes on Queensland Roads.
In 2014, the Motorcycle Discussion Paper: Rules for Motorcycle Riders, was released, proposing various changes to motorbike law including changes to the laws surrounding lane filtering, motorcycle control and motorcycle helmets. Over 9,000 responses to the discussion paper were received, most in support of significant reform.
The changes to these rules/laws have been based on a review of the responses received from the motorcycle community, research into road safety, and the practices in other states. A brief outline of the changes are as follows:
Lane filtering is the riding of a motorcycle/motorbike between two lanes of stationary or slow moving traffic. This usually occurs during congested traffic, such as that at red lights. When the light turns green, the rider, who now at the front of the traffic, will travel ahead of the other vehicles, with the intention of removing themselves from the danger of being unseen.
Whilst lane filtering has been standard practice for many motorcyclists already, it infringes laws such as not staying within marked lanes, or changing lanes without signalling.
The main benefit of lane filtering allows riders to remove themselves from congested traffic, where they are often unseen creating dangerous situations for both themselves and other road users.
As of 1 February 2015, motorcyclists were allowed to lane filter, subject to the following conditions:
- Lane filtering does not apply in school zones (during school hours)
- Only riders on open motorcycle licences are allowed to lane filter;
- Riders can only travel at speeds no greater than 30km/hr;
- Riders can only travel along a road shoulder (sealed road to the left or right of a edged line), or in emergency stoping lanes;
- Riders cannot travel between vehicles and the kerbside (to ensure pedestrian safety);
- Motorcycle riders are now allowed to stop in marked bicycle storage areas (areas of roads near traffic lights which allow cyclists to wait in front of vehicles stopped at the lights), motorbike riders however are still not allowed to ride in bicycle lanes for more than 50 metres; and
- Riders must give way to other riders or cyclists already on the road shoulder.
Lane splitting (which is where a rider is travelling at over 30km/hr between stationary or slow moving traffic) is prohibited. Failure to adhere to these lane filtering rules could cost a rider a $341.00 on the spot fine and 3 demerit points, with a maximum penalty of $2,277.00 if the matter goes before the courts.
For more information regarding lane splitting, including a video explanation of the road rules, visit the Department of Transport and Main Roads.
Motorcycle Control Laws
Prior to the new laws commencing on 1 February 2015, motorcyclists were subject to strict rules which required that they remain seated on their bike when in motion, with both feet on the foot rests and one hand on the on the handlebars. Whilst these strict laws were put in place to prevent dangerous riding, they did not allow flexibility for when a rider needed to stretch their legs or raise themselves from the seat whilst travelling over uneven ground.
These strict requirements have now been lifted, allowing riders to use their discretion when riding provided they are still astride their seat and facing forward. Pillion passengers may now also raise themselves from their seat or stretch their legs. All riders must till continue to ride with due care and attention, and failure to adhere to new motorcycle control laws could cost a rider a fine of $151.00.
Change of Laws regarding Motorbike Helmets.
Motorcyclist can now wear helmets complying with European standards (ECE 22.05 standards), rather than only being limited to helmets which comply with the Australian standard. This allows riders to pick from a greater range in sizing and design.
Whilst Australian consumer laws only allow the sale of Australian standard helmets in Australia, riders are now allowed to purchase European helmets from international retailers. Helmets must be marked with a label or sticker certifying compliance with the ECE 22.05 standard, and failure to do so will incur a fine of $341.00 and 3 demerit points. Double demerit points apply for subsequent offences within a 12 month period of failing to wear an approved helmet.
It is important to remember that these changes only apply in Queensland and you must check the relevant laws in other Australian states and territories.
Due care should be taken whenever travelling on our roads (whether as a rider, cyclist, driver, passenger or pedestrian) and safety should always be your number one priority.