Current car bike rack laws in NSW undermine safety and need to be changed. Safe installation of a rack onto a car takes time, measurement, tools, patience and sometimes a second pair of hands.
Empty Bike Racks Are Illegal
In NSW, it’s illegal to drive a car with a rear bike rack installed and no bike on it. That means, a person collecting a bike from the bike shop, or picking up riders, can’t fit their rack safely at home in advance. While not written in the current road rules, it is in the Transport - Roads and Maritime Services Vehicle Standards Information, available here.
Failing to install a bike rack correctly could endanger other people if a bike becomes dislodged whilst the car is moving. When at home, you have the tools and time to ensure the rack is installed safely. However, traffic conditions and time restraints can be an issue, if you need to install a bike rack when you arrive to collect bikes or riders. Ultimately, many bike racks can’t be fitted safely in the carpark or on the side of the road.
Currently, the punishment is a $112 fine for driving a vehicle with an empty bike rack. That is even if an auxiliary number plate or light board is used to prevent the registration number or lights being obscured.
What Happens if They Weren't?
Padding or red flags on bike racks can help prevent pedestrians getting bumped or scraped walking by when the car is parked. Additionally, they would alert other vehicles to the protruding section.
“We’re asking for bike racks law in NSW to be changed to help ensure racks are fitted safely, protecting all road users,” said General Manager of Public Affairs, Bastien Wallace.
Since a law change in July 2017 Victorians have been allowed to do this. In racks fitted to allow cars to carry motorbikes or mobility scooters, can be fitted at home and driven empty and legally to where they are needed.
“Changing the law improves consistency, and will help keep roads and vehicles safer for everyone,” said Bastien.
If you’d like to see this change, share this article on social media and tag your MP.