Why we should lane filter more often

Lane filtering forum

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.

Lane filter
Riders filtering in Melbourne traffic

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.

4 Comments

  1. You haven’t filtered until you’ve filtered in Rome or Paris. At first when I observed while wandering about I was gobsmacked. Then I rented a Vespa in both cities for 2 days so the wife and I could get around to a few places that were just a bit too far to walk to. As they say, when in Rome. Imagine a set of lights being red and to get to the front you simply move onto the other side of the road heading into oncoming traffic that moves over so you can continue to the front safely! Imagine doing that past a police car and they simply ignore it! Motorbike/scooter riders routinely running their hazard lights as they lane split on freeways and roads. All safe as the drivers around them are fully aware of what is happening and that letting two wheeled vehicles through makes it better for them.

  2. I filter at every opportunity, love it! I have never really had a problem so far with drivers (maybe because I’m on a black Harley with a face mask, dunno?) Occasionally you get the dicks that race past you once they’ve caught up to you, then i just filter past them at the next lights, ha ha ha. I think we need more ads on TV and Radio educating car drivers about filtering, there has been fuck all out there. I agree with the nod & wave if someone moves over for you, i do it myself if I’m in the car.
    One thing also that i don’t think has been mentioned is when you’re sitting behind a vehicle at lights you are copping all of their carbon monoxide and whatever other poisonous gas exhaust fumes right in your face, another reason to move to the front.

  3. my friend has a yellow vest with ‘camera’ in blue letters on the front & back he informs me that he has had no problems with Lane filtering or drivers trying to rear end him (the new black) since he has had this made up. There should be a tv campaign informing car drivers of lane filtering law but….

  4. I wrote an email to the Motorcycle Council of NSW for “Lane Filtering is Legal!” stickers. They sent me a whole heap of different stickers and I put one of the stickers on the back of my helmet so drivers can see it. I acknowledge, thumbs up or wave to the drivers who see me filtering through and try to give me more room to pass.
    I still get the odd tosser driver that tries to race me off at the lights, block me, see me riding in traffic and just move over subtlely to block me from filtering past them at traffic lights. They’re mainly SUV drivers trying to protect their side mirror from the “mirror love tap” …

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