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Motorcycle Lane Filtering, your opinion

By Sgt.Bungers - 4 December 2008 111

As a motorcyclist, I lane filter.  I have ever since I got my motorcycle licence 3 years ago. 

So far, out of the hundreds of times I’ve filtered, I’ve had two people in cars visibly annoyed to the point where one driver deliberately tried to knock me off my bike, that matter was dealth with by the police.  The second incident occured two days ago, where the other driver began yelling out the window, horn blowing, then did his best to cut me off at a form one lane.  He then past me shaking his head.  I got behind him as I had to be in the lane he was now in, he clearly paniced possibly thinking I was trying to start something, swerved across two lanes of traffic, cutting off two vehicles, narrowly missed a bus pulling out of a bus stop.

As I understand the law, lane filtering is not illegal unless it’s done in a manner dangerous.  That said, there is no actual law governing lane filtering at all. 

Victoria tried to make an addition to the Australian Road Rules to make lane filtering illegal, however it was rejected by the other states.  Lane filtering at traffic lights is legal in many other countries, as it has benefits to traffic flow, especially where motorcycle usage is high.  When a motorcyclist is at the front of a queue at traffic lights, they’ll typically move away faster, thus letting more people get through a traffic light cycle.  As opposed to motorcyclists sitting in the queue and waiting for other vehicles in front to get up to speed

Personally, I only lane filter past stopped traffic, only in between traffic lanes, never in cycle lanes, and never at more than 10-20km/h depending on space.  If space between vehicles is tight, I’ll walk the bike through the queues of traffic to the stop line of the traffic lights.  I then watch the lights, and take off quickly.  Normally I’m through the intersection before most vehicles are even a third of the way through.  So, I win, as I get to the front of the queue and move away quicker.  The last vehicle through that traffic light cycle wins, as if I’d sat in the queue, my bike would’ve taken up the same amount of space as an additional car.

I’ve never hit another vehicle.

Motorcycle Lane Filtering

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111 Responses to
Motorcycle Lane Filtering, your opinion
harley 9:02 pm 04 Dec 08

Everything I’ve read on it says that there is no law explicitly allowing or disallowing it.

Given it’s not actually illegal, you can’t be booked for it. You can, however be booked for offences such as dangerous driving, failing to indicate, keeping a safe distance while overtaking, or anything else mr plod decides to throw at you on the day.

I used to do it daily, 20 years ago in Vic. Now I’m back on the bike after a 10 year hiatus, and I can’t be bothered. I filtered to the front of a queue once in the last 3 months, and it didn’t give me a chubby…

I overtake with narrower gaps than I would in a cage, but I don’t lane split… I ride a BMW – my mate calls it my “retirement bike”… that might have something to do with not bothering to lanesplit. Too old at 37…

Holden Caulfield 8:56 pm 04 Dec 08

As a motorist who’s never ridden a motorbike on a public road I say, go for gold Sgt.Bungers. FWIW, you have my blessing.

Felix the Cat 8:53 pm 04 Dec 08

I’m not really for or against it. Well maybe slightly against it because I’m concerned for rider safety and think that car drivers (generalising here, I know they aren’t all the same) might not see/expect motorcyclists to suddenly appear beside them at the lights. I guess motorists should hear them (if they haven’t got the stereo cranked up too loud) as motorbikes generally have loudish exhausts. Self preservation should be pretty high on most motorcyclist’s wishes so I guess they make the judgement if it’s safe or not.

I don’t think scooters should be allowed to lane filter but, because they generally aren’t very fast or powerful so could end up impeding traffic. Plus from what I’ve seen a lot of scooter riders are inexperienced at riding so their bike handling skills might still need a bit of work.

Spectra 8:39 pm 04 Dec 08

Also might have something to do with the fact we have larger engine capacities compared to the weight ratio making it faster for us to go from 0-100km. When I take off from the light when I want/need to take off fast i leave the cars behing me in my dust.

Indeed – as soon as I see a car on our roads that can do 0-100 in under 3.5 seconds, I’ll be willing to concede that I might hold it up getting away from the lights 😉

(For those who missed it, I’m not trying to make a serious argument here – ss I said before, I don’t actually do it, and obviously this doesn’t apply to all bikes – I think my car would give most scooters a run for their money, for a start…)

bd84 8:36 pm 04 Dec 08

err your logic is a bit flawed there. While no specific law exists to prevent “filtering” it breaks multiple other laws. Generally incorrectly changing lanes would be the major one where most change lanes in a dangerous manner i.e. into a non existent gap, when you filter you’re overtaking on the left – also illegal , or you can go the driving down the shoulder/emergency lane which is only permitted in an emergency or pulling over etc. which happens also to be illegal!

Madman said :

If we all rode a motorbike there would be no traffic jams or congestion!

It would be a perfect world!

I hope there is a lot of sarcasm in that comment lol. Load of bullsht, the extra 2 metres of space doesn’t help any traffic jams it only creates another idiot to try and watch out for. You can take a look at a lot of asian countries where motorcycles are a significant majority adn.. wow they have traffic jams too (just slightly less rules).

While I don’t condone someone deliberately trying to run a motorcyclist down, it’s more difficult to avoid running them down when you don’t see them speeding down to the left of you and they run out of lane or swerve infront of you while you’re doin 110kph. I’ve nearly knocked off 3 motorcyclists this year when they’ve done exactly those things.

Finally, I notice that motorcyclists filter down past stopped traffic at lights to the front of the queue to share the same lane as a car, however when they’re at the front of the queue legitimately, they don’t stop on the left to leave enough room for a car to come up and share their space? Oh wait.. that’s actually illegal too.

Sgt.Bungers 8:28 pm 04 Dec 08

I never actually finished writing that post, my browser messed up and took me back to the “Transportation” page half way though it, I thought stuff it, didn’t realise my half post had actually been posted.

What I was going to finish with, was, it’s clear that the vast majority of people don’t care about motorcyclists filtering, but you have to wonder what’s going through the heads of the people that do? The well dressed, middle aged bloke the other day who clearly had a big problem with it, yelled at me through his window, blew the horn the instant the light turned green, then drove erratically for the next several kilometres, all because someone else got in front of them at a set of traffic lights without causing him any delay whatsoever?

Perhaps some male drivers see it as a test of their masculinity when someone gets in front of them?

I’ve just got back from a round the world trip. In EVERY country I was in, motorcycle lane filtering was the norm. Everyone did it, not once did I witness any driver get angry. If I commented to any local about it being a bit taboo in Australia, they all thought that was strange. In England, it’s so common place that when car drivers do not leave enough room for motorcyclists to lane filter through stopped traffic, riders will fold in car mirrors to get past and make a point. Why do so many Australians have such a big problem with it?

Realityskin, it has to do with Canberra because I do 90% of my riding in Canberra, and the two times I’ve somehow angered people by getting in front of them, they’ve been Canberrans.

Spectra 8:28 pm 04 Dec 08

As I understand the law, lane filtering is not illegal unless it’s done in a manner dangerous.

My understanding is that it’s a little more complex than that (I’m neither a lawyer nor a cop, so don’t take this as gospel): As you say, there’s no specific law governing it, however there are laws regarding passing stationary vehicles, and those are what apply. And what they say are that you can do it, provided the vehicle in your lane is on your left. The net effect of this is that you can do it, but you have to stay to the right hand side of the line – as soon as you cross it, you’re in the other lane and passing a stationary vehicle on its left, which is a no-no. Of course, it would be a real pedant of a cop who pulled you up on it, but they have bad days just like real people 😉

That said, I don’t do it at all myself – for me, traffic in Canberra just isn’t enough to warrant the risk of angry assholes deciding to take matters into their own hands – I have a hard enough time avoiding the people trying to kill me through inattention, never mind the ones who are actively aiming for me.

johnboy 8:27 pm 04 Dec 08

We’re assuming it’s talking about traffic here.

Madman 8:24 pm 04 Dec 08

GB said :

Overall though, I think its a bit like ‘should bicycles be on roads’: its not that it should be terribly dangerous much of the time; rather, that its just one more thing for drivers to notice and think about. And they’re already busy txting and phoning…

Are you saying motorcycles shouldn’t be on the road?
You shouldn’t have to think about what a bike is going to do anymore then u should think whats the car infront going to do. The whole perception of you should move out of the motorcylists way is the damaging part. Get on a bike and you will think differently about it. I used to be that way till I got a bike.

GB said :

BTW, part of the reason motorbikes are first to leave an intersection when they have squeezed between cars, is that people like me wait till they are well clear before moving off, because there’s no way of telling what they’re going to do.

Also might have something to do with the fact we have larger engine capacities compared to the weight ratio making it faster for us to go from 0-100km. When I take off from the light when I want/need to take off fast i leave the cars behing me in my dust.
But thanks for being super catious, thats good to know – unlike some other drivers that will try to beat you off the line and seem to want to collide into your rear.

=-)

GB 7:53 pm 04 Dec 08

I’m pretty sure Mr Bungers does it as he says; but many I see do not, particularly doing it in moving traffic.

Overall though, I think its a bit like ‘should bicycles be on roads’: its not that it should be terribly dangerous much of the time; rather, that its just one more thing for drivers to notice and think about. And they’re already busy txting and phoning…

BTW, part of the reason motorbikes are first to leave an intersection when they have squeezed between cars, is that people like me wait till they are well clear before moving off, because there’s no way of telling what they’re going to do.

Now, bicycles sneaking up the left side of you at the lights — that is a temporary Australian in the making.

(I am a cyclist and car driver.)

Madman 7:38 pm 04 Dec 08

There’s Motorcycle in Canberra, Bungers is in Canberra, Canberra is apart of Australia…

Lane filtering happens in Canberra.

All of that was worked out from the topics comments…. READ!!!

realityskin 7:30 pm 04 Dec 08

What has this go to with Canberra ?

Tony 7:26 pm 04 Dec 08

As a registration paying rider, you have all the rights as any other motorist on the road, that does not include lane filtering. But I think your free to do it if you want, but you run an increased risk of an accident, and you’ll come off second best.

Though anyone attempting to run you off the road is attempted murder, IMO.

Doctor Evil 7:25 pm 04 Dec 08

Yeah, but then you would get those bastards on monkey bikes splitting lanes between the motorbikes.

Do a search Bungers, this has been done to death.

Madman 7:14 pm 04 Dec 08

If we all rode a motorbike there would be no traffic jams or congestion!

It would be a perfect world!

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