Lane filtering safe, not queue jumping

Leave a gap lane filtering queue jumping

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.lane filtering

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?thumbs up Leave a gap lane filtering queue jumping

8 Comments

  1. You are not permitted to lane filter alongside buses or heavy vehicles, in either NSW or QLD, so the rider in this case was wrong, and the bus driver was right. This is a sensible limitation, as both vehicles are very wide. Also, I’ve seen motorcyclists filtering alongside articulated vehicles in corners! This is a great way of getting run over by a bogey!

  2. I’d opt for the “Thanks for leaving a gap” sticker. I also make a point of giving drivers who move over either a verbal “Thanks mate” if they have the window down or a wave as I pass. Great that filtering is now legal in QLD! Perhaps bus companies (Brisbane City Council especially) and taxi companies can have larger versions of the stickers and display the appropriate behaviour (leaving a gap) to help spread the word.

    1. Funny you should say that … I was in a traffic jam in Chicago a few years ago on a Harley and I asked the American guy riding with us if they lane filtered in Chicago. He’d never heard the word, so I explained it. He said “Well, of course, you can do that if you want; but you see all these guys in the pick-ups around you … they’ve all got guns.”
      We chose to stay in our lanes!

  3. I understand that in Paris, at least on the ring roads, it is mandatory that between certain lanes car drivers must leave a big gap for motorcycles to pass between the cars. Of course, being France, the bikes go through that gap at 130km+; i.e. extreme ‘filtering’.

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