November 5, 2013
With more than 200 trikes now on Western Australian roads, many riders are demanding a separate licence to avoid endangering themselves on motorcycles while they learn to ride.
At present, prospective trike riders must complete a full year on a motorcycle, then pass a practical skills test and hold the licence for another year before they can apply for a special ‘R-class’ licence.
Bombardier is circulating a petition to show support for trike licensing reforms.
Several signatories have cited personal safety as a reason a specific trike licence is needed.
Signatory Robin McKeown said his wife wanted to drive their trike, but had to go for a motorcycle licence first.
“On her first on-road ride on a scooter she was hit by a car and had an overnight stay in hospital,” Mr Mckeown said.
“She never wanted to ride a two-wheeler.”
Department of Transport spokeswoman Louise Jess said WA’s trike driver licensing policy was consistent with recommendations of the National Driver Licensing Scheme.
Under the national scheme, created in January 2000, trikes can only be operated under the R-class motorcycle licence.
Mr Heyes said Bombardier had been discussing a specific trike licence with licensing centres for more than two years.
“We’ve submitted documents and drafts to WA,” Mr Heyes said.
“We’ve come a long way but we’re just running into hurdles with the learner’s permit.”
RevSports in Victoria Park is one of three trike dealers in WA.
RevSports director Steve Ford (pictured) said it was virtually impossible to do business when licensing the vehicles was so difficult.
He said unless there was a dramatic change in policy he would have to close shop at the end of the year.
“We’ve done two riding courses where we’ve got the guys from the licensing centre in Midland, met at a carpark with the bikes, put them on the bikes and gone for a ride out to the country,” Mr Ford said.
“They’ve all come back and said: ‘No problems at all. We see where you’re coming from and we can’t see an issue’.
“Then it’s gone to the next level and because their the bureaucracy side of things and they don’t ride bikes, they don’t know anything about bikes, they say: ‘Oh, no this is all too hard’.”
Mr Ford said the Spyder was safer than a motorbike.
“It’ll out-brake anything on the road, car or bike, as far as I’m concerned,” he said.
“You could basically put your grandmother on this, with a bit of tuition, and she could ride it.”
Opposition Transport Minister Ken Travers said he would be pursue the government to find out if there was any logic to resisting a specific trike licence.
“Requiring someone to get a licence for a 250cc motorbike that is intrinsically less safe than the trike they will ultimately be riding just doesn’t make sense to me,” Mr Travers said.
“Unless the government can find something to contradict that view I’d certainly support a test specifically for the separate trike licence without having a motorcycle licence.
“One of the areas which the road safety council often is concerned about is people like myself who rode motorbikes when they were younger still have their licences and now want to return to riding in their later years.
“To those people that decide in their mid-years that they want to go and get a motorbike, I’ve had a shot on one of these trikes and they feel much safer.”
Mr Ford said young people and women were most disadvantaged by the lack of a separate trike licence, as smaller people had a hard time controlling the 250cc bikes that they had to ride to attempt the R-class licence.