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Motorcycle Laws (ACT)

A motorcycle rider must obey the road rules that apply to drivers but there are some rules specific to motorcycle riders. This article outlines those specific rules as they apply in the Australian Capital Territory.

Helmets for motorcycles

Riders and passengers must wear a helmet that meets the standard:

  • AS 1698-1988;
  • AS/NZS 1698:2006 (or later version);
  • ECE 22.05 (or later version);

Any attached face shield or visor must also meet the standard specified by the helmet standard.

Footpath parking

A motorcycle must not be parked on a footpath unless there is signage stating otherwise. On-street motorcycle bays are available throughout urban areas in the state.

Transit, bus and special purpose lanes

Motorcyclists are permitted to ride in a transit lane but must not ride in a lane for buses, trams, bicycles or other special vehicles, unless there is signage stating otherwise.

Carrying pillion passengers

A motorcyclist can carry a pillion passenger only if their licence category allows.

A motorcycle must not carry more than one pillion passenger, and that passenger must not be a child aged under 8 (unless the child is in a sidecar). A pillion passenger must wear a helmet, sit behind the rider, face forward, have a leg each side of the motorcycle and have both feet on the allocated foot pegs.

Carrying animals

An animal must not be carried between the rider and the handlebars, unless the animal is being carried for less than 500m as part of farming activity. An animal can be carried in a box, cage or bag attached to the back or side of the motorcycle, as long as this does not affect the operation of the motorcycle. An animal must not be tethered to a motorcycle while the motorcycle is moving.

Carrying loads

A motorcycle manual will provide the total weight the motorcycle is designed to carry. The load must not project from the motorcycle in a way that is likely to injure or obstruct other road users, or cause damage to a vehicle or other object. The load should be kept low, above or in front of the rear axle, balanced and secure.

Riding with others

A motorcyclist can ride beside only one other rider, and the riders must be 1.5 metres apart.

Lane filtering and lane splitting

Lane filtering, when a motorcyclist travels at a low speed through stopped or slow- moving traffic, is legal. The motorcyclist can travel between:

  • 2 lanes of traffic travelling in the same direction as the motorcycle;
  • 2 vehicles in separate lanes travelling in the same direction as the motorcycle;
  • a vehicle travelling in the same direction as the motorcycle and an adjacent parked vehicle or line of parked vehicles.

Road rules state lane filtering is permitted at speeds of up to 30km/h, when it is “safe to do so”, and unless there is signage stating otherwise. Lane filtering is not permitted between a vehicle and a kerb, in a bicycle lane, or in a school zone during school hours.

Lane splitting, when a motorcyclist travels at a high speed between moving traffic, is illegal.

Bicycle storage areas

A bicycle storage area at traffic lights allows cyclists to wait in front of vehicles stopped at the intersection. Motorcyclists are permitted to use such an area as long as they give way to all riders already using it.


A camera can be attached to a helmet, as long as the helmet remains compliant with required standards. A camera is also permitted to be used on the motorcycle or on the motorcyclist themselves.

Miniature motorcycles

Miniature motorcycles do not meet the required standards for vehicle registration and so cannot be used on public roads or footpaths.

Penalties for motorcycle offences

A motorcyclists faces a fine and incurs demerit points for committing an offence under the Road Transport (Offences) Regulation 2005. For example, a $502 fine applies when a motorcyclist fails to wear an approved helmet or fails to ensure a passenger wears an approved helmet, and a $203 fine applies when a motorcyclist carries more than 1 passenger or carries a passenger aged under 8.

Vehicle impoundment laws (“hoon laws”) apply to motorcyclists, which means police can impound a motorcycle if a rider is caught committing an offence such as excessive speeding, doing burnouts or riding while disqualified.

For advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal.

Sally Crosswell

This article was written by Sally Crosswell

Sally Crosswell has a Bachelor of Laws (Hons), a Bachelor of Communication and a Master of International and Community Development. She also completed a Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice at the College of Law. A former journalist, Sally has a keen interest in human rights law.

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