Water Catchment, Disease Risk Areas, Reservoir Protection Zones, National Parks, gazetted roads, Off Road Vehicles, designated trails. All these terms are used to define areas where riding is permitted, prohibited, or tolerated for some or all bikes and riders.
Confused? You’re not alone.
To help you understand where you stand legally here is the position as we understand it.
Before reading on, please understand that this is opinion, not legal advice. RTRA specifically disclaims any liability and recommends you seek your own qualified legal advice before taking any action in connection with any of the following.
1. Road Registered Trail or Enduro Bike ridden by a Licenced rider
You are legally entitled to ride a road-registered trail or enduro bike on any road that is open to vehicles generally.
That includes roads within a National Park and roads within a Catchment Area. The signs that you see saying ‘Off Road Vehicles Prohibited’ do not apply to road registered trail bikes on publicly open roads.
The question then is ‘What is a publicly open road?’
Put simply a road is open to the public unless it is closed. Closed roads include:
- Roads in the Prohibited Zone (formerly called a Reservoir Protection Zone or RPZ) of a Drinking Water Source Protection Area. The Prohibited Zone typically extends approximately 2km from the reservoir itself. These roads will generally have a locked gate or sign indicating that they are a prohibited area for all vehicles.
- Roads closed to prevent the spread of dieback. These roads will usually have a locked gate or sign indicating that they are a prohibited area for all vehicles.
- Roads on private property (eg Water Corporation owns some of the land in the Mundaring Catchment Area and is therefore entitled to exclude unauthorised entry.). These roads will usually have a locked gate or sign indicating that they are a prohibited area for all vehicles.
- Roads within Water Catchment Areas that do not have a “graded, gravelled, sealed, primed or other prepared surface” ( Ref Section 4.7.2 of the Metropolitan Water Supply, Sewarage and Drainage By-laws 1981 ). These roads will generally not be signed or gated, so it is up to the rider to determine what is a ‘graded, gravelled or sealed’ road and what is not.
So you are not at risk of prosecution – even in a Water Catchment area – if you ride a road registered bike on a publicly open, graded or gravelled road.
In the Sawyers Valley area you are also entitled to ride a road registered bike on the Powerlines trail and the Wandoo trail. These two areas have been specifically designated as allowable, despite them being in a Water Catchment area and not being ‘graded, gravelled or sealed’. So don’t let anyone tell you you’re not welcome on these trails!
Unfortunately, most of the more interesting tracks are neither graded, gravelled or sealed nor designated as allowable. Single track and four wheel drive tracks are therefore off-limits in Water Catchment areas – for all vehicles including registered trail bikes and four wheel drives.
RTRA vigorously opposes the blanket exclusion of the outer catchment areas and we’re working to arrive at a more pragmatic and flexible way of balancing the community demand for safe drinking water with the recreational needs of trail bike riders and other bush users.
For now we can at least ensure that as members you are properly aware of your rights.
2. Bikes and Quads that are not road registered and / or riders who do not have a riders’ licence
This category is much more straightforward, though the news is not great.
There are only two categories of places where bikes that are not registered for the road / unlicenced riders can legally go:
a) Private property with the consent of the landowner
b) Designated Off Road Vehicle Areas (if you have Off Road Vehicle registration)
Riding a bike that is not registered for the road anywhere other than the above puts you at risk of a fine. You should also carry with you proof of ownership at all times, as if you are not able to prove ownership to the satisfaction of the ranger, police officer or other official under the Control of Vehicles (Off Road Areas) Act they are entitled to confiscate your bike on the spot and hold it until you can prove ownership.
Use our Ranger Incident Reporting System.
“Trailbike riders are as legitimate a land user group as bushwalkers, mountain bike riders or horse riders.”
The Conservation and Land Management Act and Regulations make it an offence to organise, promote or conduct a car rally, associated navigation exercise, mountain bike event or other race involving vehicles on or through CALM land. But when does a group of guys going out for a ride together become an organised event?
The regulations are not clear-cut, but if you promote a group ride in such a way that anyone from the public can join in – eg by advertising, putting up posters or even posting the full details on a web site or forum – then you could be seen to be organising an event and a permit is required.
If you charge a fee for the ride, then even as a non-profit organisation a permit is required.
If you don’t publicly promote the ride, then it could be said that the participants are simply going for a ride together as individuals, in which case (unless you have more than 100 riders) you don’t need a permit. Note that the 100 participant limit is likely to be substantially reduced in the near future.
So while you may not need a permit for your informal group ride, RTRA recommends contacting the local DPaW office to review the intended area for seasonal closures, other events that may be occurring on that day, noise-sensitive residences and disease risk area boundaries.
Apart from anything else, establishing a dialogue between your riding group and the DPaW District office will ensure that DPaW is aware that trail bikes are using trails in the area and will be less likely to arbitrarily close trails or give them over to walkers and mountain-bikers.