Lane filtering is safer than not filtering, benefits all motorists and is legal in many places, yet many ignorant and/or arrogant motorists still believe it is illegal, unsafe and just plain queue jumping.
A Berkeley University study of California Highway Patrol data from almost 6000 motorcycle accidents has found lane filtering is safer than not lane filtering, and that filtering riders were more responsible, wore better helmets, were less likely to speed and unlikely to ride under the influence of alcohol.
Other studies show that lane filtering aids in traffic flow and benefits all motorists, not just motorcycle riders.
Lane filtering is now legal in NSW, Queensland, the ACT and Victoria (from September), and has been legal in the United Kingdom, Europe and Asia for many years.
It’s had tacit approval in California for some time and is about to be officially sanctioned while several other US states are also considering introducing the laws.
Despite all this, many motorists still think lane-filtering motorcyclists are riding dangerously and illegally and that it is unfair queue jumping.
MotorBikeWriter has received several complaints from riders since lane filtering laws were introduced, mainly about drivers not leaving a reasonable gap, but also reports of riders being raced by impatient and jealous drivers, and even vehicles deliberately blocking them.
One Brisbane rider reports that a bus intentionally moved over on him and his pillion daughter to block them, almost forcing him and his daughter into the car beside them.
When the rider confronted the bus driver, he was told to “stay in his lane”, so it was clearly an intentional move.
Surely it is a professional bus driver’s duty to know the rules of the road. Yet if this professional driver is unaware of the legal practice of lane filtering, how can we expect the rest of the motoring public to know of these rules?
The rider complained to the bus company suggesting they educate their drivers about lane filtering.
However, we need a much broader public education campaign. It should not only target drivers, but also riders to show them how to lane filter properly and lawfully.
I suggest the campaign should follow a UK promotion of several years ago called “Leave a gap”, encouraging motorists to allow motorcycles to filter through the traffic so they are not taking up precious spaces in the slow-moving queue of commuter traffic.
Riders can also help by not encouraging road rage. I’ve seen riders speed through traffic, kick at car doors and yell abuse at drivers.
This sort of behaviour doesn’t get us anywhere. It only incites more jealousy, hate and road rage.
Instead, riders need to go on the “pleasant offensive” and wave a thank you or thumbs-up when people move over for us.
Perhaps we should put stickers on the backs of our helmets or bikes saying: “Leave a Gap”, “Thanks for leaving a gap”, “Lane filtering is safe”, “Lane filtering is legal”, “Lane filtering is safe & legal” or “I filter & I vote”.
Which sticker would you put on your helmet or bike?