The more that riders lane filter, the more motorists will learn that it is legal, not an obstruction to traffic and helps relieve traffic congestion.
More motorists might also come to see motorcycles as a valid and useful mode of transport.
Just because we have lane-filtering laws in three states and the ACT (under trial until next year), does not mean you have to do it. The law only now makes it legal, but within strict guidelines on speed, riders and location.
However, we suggest that riders lane filter at every safe, legal and convenient opportunity.
Even when there are only two cars side by side at the lights, if you filter to the front, wave politely to the drivers and make a quick and safe departure when the lights turn green, these can be the benefits:
- It is good training for filtering in longer queues;
- It will show that riders are courteous people, not hooligans;
- It demonstrates to drivers that riders can be be out of their way quickly with no hindrance to traffic;
- Filtering in longer lines displays to drivers that it reduces the wait at traffic light changes; and
- It may encourage drivers to get out from behind the wheel and ride a bike.
The more people riding, the better it is for us all. In fact, there is an often-quoted Belgian study that found a 10% shift from cars to motorcycles could reduce travel time by an average eight minutes for the remaining 90% of drivers.
It’s already happening with the number of motorcycles commuting into Melbourne rising 73% from 2006-14, while the number of cars dropped 2%.
While some of the lane filtering rules are restrictive, vary from state to state and are a little obtuse (read about the Queensland edge filtering anomaly), we encourage riders to filter within the current rules. Otherwise, the fines are pretty hefty!
The Motorcycle Rides Association of Queensland says there are a few riders who “seem to believe that there should be no rules applicable to the practice or to them and that they should be able to filter under any condition and in any way that they like”.
“These riders are doing others a great disservice in that they have the effect of reinforcing the belief in some other road users’ minds that all riders are a problem and should be removed from the system.”
Meanwhile, it is hoped a Canberra forum of state transport ministers in October will lead to uniform road rules across the nation. We remain sceptical, but hopeful.