Update on current UK trike licensing legislation


Some of this information has been covered in one of my previous articles, but there have been new developments you may be unaware of so give it a good coat of ‘looking-at’, writes Rick Hulse.

As of 19th January 2013, trikes became part of the Category A (motorcycle) licensing regulations (previously they came within the Category B (car) licensing regulations). For people who hold existing full car licences (category B) prior to 19th January 2013, nothing changes – new licensing regulations cannot be backdated so ‘grandfather rights’ apply.
Since 19th January 2013 only people with disabilities, who’ve officially notified the DVLA of their disabilities, have been permitted to ride trikes on a provisional licence and/or take a test on a trike – everyone else will have to sit a motorcycle test. The correct form for notifying the DVLA of a disability is available from www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads, but can be a bit of bugger to find so if you get lost, NABD members can email the NABD office via [email protected] and we’ll email a copy of the relevant form that you can print off and fill in or we can post a hard copy out to you.
Please note: do NOT surrender your licence when you send in this notification – the DVLA will let you know if they require you to send your licence to them for any reason. If you are required to send your licence to DVLA for any reason, we recommend you keep a good photocopy or scan of both sides of your licence.
This dispensation was included in the European legislation due to consultations between the NABD and the Driving Standards Agency (DSA), including the submission of a very detailed report by me as NABD chairman relating to the use of trikes and sidecar outfits by disabled people, and the impracticality of trying to fit trikes and/or motorcycles and sidecars into the criteria used within the staged licensing of motorcycles.
People with disabilities who wish to begin riding a trike on a provisional licence that was issued after 19th January 2013 will have to complete a CBT course (slightly amended to suit trikes) prior to riding unaccompanied on the road – although people who hold a current provisional licence issued prior to 2013, which states B, or B1, do in fact have ‘grandfather rights’ on their provisional status for the duration of that licence and, therefore, are not required to complete a CBT course (though their insurers may still insist that they do). Entitlements given on the old paper licences last until the age of 70, but photo licences last just 10 years before requiring renewal, and we are informed by the DVLA that upon renewal this ‘grandfather rights’ entitlement may be lost.
To gain a full licence they’ll also have to do the motorcycle theory test, and then the practical test (Mod 1 test is also slightly adapted to suit trikes; i.e. fewer cones and no avoidance manoeuvre, use of reverse if one is fitted, etc.).
And contrary to popular misconception, it doesn’t matter if a trike has a car engine or a bike engine. Nor does the weight of a trike make any difference to licensing; throughout Europe all trikes will now fall into the Category A licence. It’s also worth noting that a disabled person taking a test on a trike will qualify for a Category A licence that’s restricted to the use of trikes – it will not qualify them to ride solo motorcycles or drive cars.
There’s no change to the pre-existing dispensation (which was also negotiated by the NABD) that allows disabled people to use a motorcycle/sidecar combination to take a motorcycle test, which would result in a Category A licence that is restricted to motorcycles fitted with sidecars. Trikes and motorcycle/sidecar combinations used for CBT, training and tests are not subject to the power output or power-to-weight ratio restrictions detailed in the new motorcycle staged licensing directive.
Under the European legislation able-bodied people who didn’t hold a full Category B (car) licence prior to 19th January 2013 will have to pass a motorcycle test on a solo motorcycle before they can ride a trike (those who already hold a full motorcycle licence will, by default, be able to ride trikes).
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A new UK-specific piece of legislation on trike entitlement has been unearthed; on 10th April 2014, new legislation came into effect which allows any person over the age of 21 who holds a full Category B (car) licence (irrespective of disabilities or what year they passed the full Category B test) to ride any size of trike within UK territory. It should be stressed that this legislation is only valid within UK territories, and nowhere else – elsewhere in Europe the 3rd Directive rules apply as originally implemented on 19/01/2013.
This piece of UK legislation was implemented without any of the usual notification to consultative groups like the NABD, despite our heavy involvement in the European legislative process, and it’s only very recently that we’ve had official confirmation of it.
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As we steadily approach the time when the UK officially leaves the European Union, many questions remain unanswered and it’s impossible to guess what changes may occur once we no longer have to adhere to European legislation but, rest assured, the NABD will be fully involved in the formulation of any legislative changes that might have an effect on the right of people with disabilities to ride motorcycles, trikes and/or sidecar combinations.
As chairman I’m regularly involved in consultations with licensing authorities, and I’ve recently been invited to join a working group at the Department for Transport to look at possible changes to UK licensing categories.
If you are a disabled person who’s been worrying about your freedom to ride a trike or motorcycle/sidecar outfit, you should remember that it was the NABD who made this exemption possible, and if you are not a NABD member, perhaps you should be? If you’d like a NABD information pack, contact the office on 0844 415 4849 or via [email protected] or you can join online via www.nabd.org.uk
The NABD welcomes all bikers into its membership. You don’t have to be disabled to support the world’s leading support group for disabled motorcyclists.

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