Lane filtering: Watch for driver doors

The video below shows the danger to lane filtering riders of a driver who gets out of their vehicle while stopped at traffic lights.

It’s illegal for a driver to leave their vehicle while stopped at traffic lights or on a roadway, unless parked at the roadside.

It is also illegal to “create a hazard” by opening a vehicle door or leaving it open while driving.

In Victoria, it is also illegal for a passenger or driver to open the door of a parked vehicle, accidentally hitting a cyclist, motorcyclist or pedestrian.

However, being in the right is no consolation for the legally lane-filtering rider who runs into a car door and is injured.

How to avoid lane filtering crashes

The rider in the above video has obviously been practising his emergency stopping procedures and is able to stop in plenty of time.

It’s worth noting that all riders should practise these skills.

While filtering through slow or stationary traffic, riders should look for telltale signs that a door will open or a vehicle will suddenly swap lanes.

Look inside the vehicle for the driver and passengers and take note of any head movement which could indicate their intentions.

Also look for indicators, wheels suddenly turning, doors opening or interior lights suddenly switching on.

We recently asked police and transport departments in each state for their statistics for lane filtering offences.

However, they say figures for crashes are not available because lane filtering is not recorded as an attribute.

So there is little chance of any progress in legislation or safety initiatives without such crash data.

Lane filtering laws

Lane filtering has been common practice in many countries for years.

It is now legal in Queensland, Victoria and New South Wales and is being evaluated in the ACT and considered in other states. It is also now legal in California and being considered by other states.

But remember, it may be legal but you are not compelled to filter. Use your judgement and stay safe.

  • Have you hit, or narrowly missed, a car door while lane filtering? Leave your comments below.
  1. If a newly licenced bike rider can survive the first year then said person has good reflexes, and road sense, etc. And thus will probably be okay I.E. will have all the prerequisite qualities required to survive.

  2. Opening the drivers door with your left hand is an interesting idea, as it causes you to shift and ease the effort to look back before opening. I admit I rarely filter at lights on my Yamaha cruiser, but I have had my share of cars moving over to block me or perhaps yelling abuse, in both Sydney and Melbourne.

  3. A friend got collected by a door thrown open by a silly girl fighting with her boyfriend, pillion was lucky to sustain only a broken wrist. He was thrown under a truck which luckily the driver saw it unfold and did not roll over him. He spent weeks in ICU and months recovering and 18 months later is still not 100%. He was only doing 20km/h so not even speed was a factor.

  4. The second metacarpal on my left hand was broken when my bike and I collided with a car door that was opened on me while I was filtering, some years ago when the South Eastern freeway had a set of traffic lights at the Toorak Road intersection. Imagine that, a freeway with traffic lights. It is the Monash Freeway/M1 now.
    I vaguely recall the driver was done by the cops for something, possibly because I was injured.

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