What is it like for Motorcyclists in Melbourne?

From navigating parking Melbourne to learning the rules of the road to staying safe in busy Melbourne traffic, motorcycle drivers have a unique experience. And any seasoned motorcycle driver will tell you that there’s a lot to learn if you’re just starting out.

In this article, we’re going to lay out all the important, interesting, and helpful tips about motorcycle driving not only in Melbourne but in a few other states as well. So strap on your riding gloves, rev your engine, and let’s get started! Oh, and don’t forget your helmet!

Basic rules for driving and parking in Melbourne 

VicRoads is an excellent source material for anyone trying to get clear instructions on the rules for motorcyclists. They explain that motorcyclists must know all of the rules of driving that car drivers follow, and then some. That’s right. There are extra rules for motorcyclists that don’t apply to car drivers. It’s for this reason that motorcycle drivers must get a separate driving licence.

Some of these rules are obvious, like having to wear a secure helmet and making sure your indicators and headlights work. Others take some time to learn. The rules for pillion passengers, who must be 8 years or older, for one. Or rules for riding in a group, which prohibit side-by-side riding except in the moments of overtaking. Furthermore, in Victoria, you’re only allowed to ride in transit lanes – not tram, bus, bicycle or other special vehicle lanes. There are some exceptions, where you’ll see special signage allowing motorcycle driving. One example is the Hoddle Street bus lane in Melbourne, which is open to motorcycle driving on a permanent basis.

Lane filtering – the practice of traveling at low speeds through stopped or slow traffic – is legal in and around Melbourne. Lane splitting – the practice of traveling at high speed between moving traffic – on the other hand, is not. You can lane filter between parked cars and traffic and only when travelling under 30km/h. Even if lane splitting is illegal, lane filtering is a huge advantage that motorcyclists have over car drivers.

There are also a few rules about parking Melbourne and parking outside the city that motorcyclists should be aware of. In Victoria, you can park on footpaths as long as you’re not in the way of pedestrians, anyone trying to access public transport, parked cars, or delivery vehicles. That’s the rule whether you’re in bustling St. Kilda or farther out in Tullamarine or anywhere else.

But, you cannot park too close to building lines or too close to service access points such as post boxes or pit covers. If the footpath is too small, you could be at risk for a citation or angry pedestrians passing by. As a motorcycle driver, it’s best to take a look around and make sure that when parking Melbourne, you won’t be obstructing normal city functioning.

A few more comparisons for driving and parking in other cities 

If you normally drive in one area of the country, you’ll have to be aware of differences in motorcycle driving rules if you plan on crossing state lines. 

Many of the rules are similar, for instance, helmet wearing is universally mandated. And it goes without saying that you should never drive while under the influence of substances. But there are some other slight differences that may not be so obvious. 

An example of how motorcycle driving rules can change from state to state is with lane filtering. Remember, in Melbourne, you can lane filter in certain circumstances, such as between parked cars and traffic. In Sydney, however, you cannot lane filter between traffic and parked cars or in school zones. In Brisbane, lane filtering is further limited so that you cannot lane filter in dedicated turning lanes and bicycle lanes. As you can see, while the basics are the same – lane filtering is legal under 30km/h – there are nuances between states.

Motorcycle parking Sydney might differ from motorcycle parking Melbourne or Brisbane as well. For instance, Melbourne is the only major city where parking on the footpath is allowed. If you’re parking Canberra, Brisbane, Sydney, or pretty much anywhere else, the motorcycle has to stay off the footpath. But anyone currently using the footpaths for parking Melbourne, keep in mind that that regulation may be changing soon. As recently as February 2020, the Melbourne City Council was set to discuss and vote on ending the parking law.

Differences in motorcycles and cars in terms of parking costs

Now that we’ve touched on some of the differences between motorcycle and car regulations and how they vary from state to state, let’s talk about some other day-to-day differences.

A big one is in cost. Motor bikes tend to use less fuel, which is a huge advantage considering that the average Aussie car owner spends $69.52 per week on fuel. And, the cost of parking is different, too. According to the City of Sydney government site, motorcycle and scooter drivers aren’t required to pay at parking meters, even in CBD! In high traffic parking Sydney areas, many public car parks offer discounted parking for motorcycles. This can even be as low as $1 per hour. If you look at parking Brisbane or parking Canberra or across Australia, you can find cheap motorcycle parking options on Parkhound

And parking isn’t just cheaper, it’s simply easier. If you’ve ever tried navigating Melbourne in a car, you know that it takes a while to find a space. In a car park, you worry that someone will back into or scratch the side of your vehicle as they pull out of tight spaces. With motorcycle parking, it’s a breeze. 

Not-so-fun stats about motorcycle riding

We would be remiss not to mention that one of the biggest differences between cars and motorcycles in Melbourne and other cities is the level of safety.  Both motorcycle drivers and car drivers could do more to make the roads safer and protect our most vulnerable motorists. 

In recent years, road rules around the country were tightened and changed in order to make motorcycle driving safer. This included higher fees for phone use while driving, more strict provisions for learner licensing, and mandatory certification for helmets. 

Of course, significant changes can also come with more mindful and careful driving practices. Driving a car and riding a motorcycle is a vastly different experience. We can all learn to be more aware of the motorists around us though. Less aggressive driving can help us to make better decisions on the road. It also reminds us to check and double check our blind spots.

Main takeaways when it comes to the differences in driving and parking in Melbourne for motorcycle drivers

Here, we’ve focused on the experiences and differences that motorcycle drivers face in Melbourne as compared to a few other major cities in Australia. As a motorcycle driver, the best thing that you can do is familiarise yourself with the rules of the road in your area so that you can be best prepared to deal with those differences!

Something interesting, frustrating or heart-warming you’ve learned about driving and parking Melbourne? Let us know!