Every now and then I see a bike go past me with a young kid on the pillion seat and it gets me to wondering what the rules are these days. My kids are all grown up and making their way in the world, but some of them certainly used to ride pillion with me and I hope some of the next generation might as well. I got to thinking about this a lot today because I was looking at a Canadian product called the “Child’s Riding Belt”, sold aptly enough by the Child’s Riding Belt Co.
Now it’s a cute idea, although it has some scary implications. But even if you though you’d like to have one of these, is it legal in Australia? Sadly, I think not. The device is really designed for kids who are too small to reach the handholds and to rest their feet on the footpegs. Australian State laws are progressively being amended to make it illegal for kids who can’t reach the footpegs to be carried as pillion passengers. Here’s the situation as I understand it right now, across the States and Territories. But please check with your local transport authority to make sure the laws have not changed before relying on this information.
Australian Capital Territory (ACT)
Pillion passengers must keep both feet on the footpegs … which means if they can’t reach the footpegs, ipso facto they are probably not allowed to ride as pillion passengers. But they may be allowed in a sidecar. The ACT Motorcycle Rider’s Handbook notes that legislative changes were being proposed in 2009 to set a minimum age of 8 years old for pillion passengers, but as far as I can see this has not happened yet.
New South Wales (NSW)
Already has laws requiring that pillion passengers must be 8 years of age or older, and must also keep both feet on the footpegs (again implying a minimum height requirement which could be an issue). Children under 8 can ride in a sidecar.
Northern Territory (NT)
No apparent restrictions on age of pillion passengers, but again must keep both feet on the footpegs so an implied minimum height. No apparent rules around sidecar passengers.
Pillion passengers must be 8 years of age or older, unless carried in a sidecar. Motorbike must be dual-seat registered (QLD has discounts for bikes with the pillion seat and pegs removed/disabled) and fitted with proper footpegs. Rider must have held a licence for the grade (size) of motorbike being ridden for at least one year. Passenger must be able to put both feet on the footpegs.
South Australia (SA)
No apparent age rules, but pillion passengers must have both feet on the pegs, so implied minimum height rule.
Pillion passengers must be 8 years of age or older, unless carried in a sidecar, and must also be able to reach the footpegs (actually stated).
Pillion passengers must be 8 years of age or older (except for working dogs, apparently), unless riding in a sidecar.
Western Australia (WA)
Love to tell you, but their online information is mostly indecipherable or missing. Anyone from WA care to comment so I can update?