Pandemic: Is it still legal to ride?

The official view is that it is still legal to go for a leisure ride during the pandemic restrictions so long as riders are not in groups of more than two.

This rule comes into force from midnight tonight (30 March 2020). Unfortunately, some of the rules have such big holes you could ride a Goldwing through them!

So we contacted the state health authorities, the national coronavirus hotline and the Prime Minister’s office for an official interpretation.

While there are no rules restricting travel, except between some states, the recommendations are that travel be limited to: Shopping; medical care or compassionate needs; exercise; and for work and education.

So you can legally ride to the shops, doctor, work and education facility without copping a massive on-the-spot fine.

We also asked if leisure riding was exempt because it is good for mental and physical health as per this article.

The official answer is yes, so long as you do not ride in a group of more than two.

It sounds rather like Queensland’s Draconian Vicious Lawless Association Disestablishment Act (VLAD) of 2013.

Riders protest the laws at the January 26 rally in Roma StRiders protesting against the VLAD laws

They say riding is classed as a leisure activity or exercise.

“However, that could change,” warns the hotline operator.

“We haven’t closed everything down at the moment, but there many be more stringent conditions coming.”

Aged riders

The Prime Minister’s office also gave “strong advice” that people aged 70, anybody over 60 with a chronic illness and Indigenous people over 50 should stay home and self-isolate.

That rules out many riders as a growing number are “mature-aged”.

The mature-aged riding club, Ulysses, has not directed members to stop riding.Ulysses Club membership forum

In an open letter to members, Road Safety Committee spokesman Terry McCarthy says riding helps de-stress:

Staying indoors or around our property may drive some of us stir crazy. We also are worrying about family and friends and how they may be coping in these difficult times. A coping mechanism may be going for a ride. Riding a motorcycle/scooter allows us to socially distance ourselves and comply with requirements presently in force. It may be the best way to relive your anxiety and stress in a safe manner.

The Ulysses Club recommends that if you do go riding, you practise good hygiene and social distancing, carry hand cleaner and your own food and drink, avoid public gatherings, and self-isolate if you are sick.

Responsible actions

Just because it’s not yet law doesn’t mean we should be heading out for a ride as often as we would like.

That not only gives a bad public impression of riders, but it’s not in the spirit of the recommendations and suggestions.

We contacted police in several states who are patrolling for non-compliance and have been advised of several on-the-spot fines of thousands of dollars being handed out. 

“We need everyone on the same page to ensure we are not putting more people at risk,” Victoria Police said.

Police in several states say they are particularly patrolling borders and “areas where people congregate” which could include riders gathering at cafes and scenic spots.

As we have seen, restrictions are ramped up every few days in response to a lack of compliance in the population. 

The slower we are to obey directions, the more restrictive are the rules imposed. We may soon even see riding ruled out!

It also prolongs the duration that many riding brothers and sisters are out of work.

Coronavirus pandemicMBW keeps his bike close at hand while working at home to keep you entertained through the Coronavirus pandemic

Thankfully, we are seeing a lot of riders complying with the recommendations, ceasing group rides and staying home to work on or clean their bike.

The good news is that a McCrindle Research online study of 1015 Australians last week found 86% are adhering to government advice to stop the spread of Coronavirus.

Hopefully, 86% of riders are also doing the responsible thing and limiting their riding.

Pandemic info resources

If you need health advice or information on the pandemic restrictions and recommendations, try these resources:

Australian Department of Health; Health Direct or the Coronavirus Hotline: 1800 020 080.

To check out the latest infection and death statistics, click here.

PandemicSource: Our World In Data • China had 80,261 cases at day 45. This chart pulls global data from Our World In Data. Numbers from other countries may have a 24-hour delay


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