7 November 2018

Viral video of car sideswiping motorcyclist on Majura Parkway unleashes barrage of comments

| Glynis Quinlan
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A still from dash-cam footage of a car appearing to attempt to sideswipe a motorcycle rider. The footage was posted on the Canberra Drivers Facebook site.

Dash-cam footage of a car appearing to attempt to sideswipe a motorcycle rider who was lane filtering on the Majura Parkway has raised the ire of motorcycle groups, police and the ACT Road Safety Minister.

ACT Policing launched an investigation into the incident when they became aware of it last Friday (November 2) after the footage was earlier posted on the Canberra Drivers Facebook site.

Since being posted mid last week, the footage (shared below) has been viewed around 270,000 times and sparked a barrage of comments, primarily from incensed motorcyclists concerned that the rider could have been seriously injured.

A statement posted with the dash-cam footage says: “The driver did this to two bikes. Lots of laughing by car occupants afterwards. The passenger was looking into side mirror for bikes passing.”

“Motorcycle riders are vulnerable road users — not target practice for incompetent, dangerous motorists behind the wheel of a lethal object,” commented the Motorcycle Council of NSW on the Facebook post.

“This type of action is what injures bike riders and this guy driving and passenger should be charged,” commented a motorcycle rider.

“This guy needs to be off our roads – that rider could have lost a leg,” commented someone else.

“That’s disgusting what that driver tried to do. Even at low speeds that motorcyclist could have been seriously injured,” wrote someone else.

“He should be at least charged with driving in a manner dangerous to other road users,” commented another person.

Motorcycle lane filtering is legal in the ACT with a trial beginning in February 2015 and ACT Roads Minister Shane Rattenbury announcing early last month that it was “now in place permanently throughout the ACT”.

Motorcycle Riders Association president Lorne Thurgar and vice-president Jen Woods with ACT Road Safety Minister Shane Rattenbury last month at the announcement that lane filtering would be allowed permanently. Photo: Supplied.

Under the ACT’s lane filtering laws, motorcyclists are allowed to travel between stationary or slow moving vehicles, to reach the front of the traffic queue. The aim is to allow motorcyclists to move quickly and safely away from congested areas of traffic.

In response to the dash-cam footage, Mr Rattenbury told Region Media that safety is paramount on ACT roads and “irresponsible behaviour – especially towards motorcyclists or other vulnerable road users – is just not on”.

“I urge all Canberrans to call out dangerous behaviour, and report it to police when they see it, particularly if they have dash-cam footage,” Mr Rattenbury said.

“Motorcyclists are allowed to lane filter in the ACT and drivers need to be aware of this.

“Despite a greater awareness of the need to protect vulnerable road users, in 2016 there were three motorcyclists killed on our roads, and 33 admitted to hospital, representing around one-third of the overall road toll for the ACT,” he said.

“The ACT Government is committed to a Vision Zero view of road safety. It’s quite simple: this means that no loss of life on our roads is acceptable.”

His thoughts are echoed by Kane Piper of Canberra Motorcycle Centre who told Region Media that all road users need to have the shared goal of getting home safely.

“Lane filtering is legal, we get it may seem like cheating, however ultimately it helps with traffic congestion,” he said.

“We also want to remind drivers, motorcyclists are vulnerable road users, we are someone’s dad, mum, brother, best mate etc.

“We encourage road users to be safe, regardless of the mode of transport they use.”

The ACT Government’s decision to allow lane filtering long-term in the ACT was made after an independent evaluation of the trial period which found that a majority of Canberra drivers (69 per cent of respondents) support motorcycle lane filtering as a road safety measure.

Motorcyclists are not allowed to lane filter at a speed greater than 30km/h. Photo: Supplied.

There are a number of conditions in terms of when a motorcycle rider can lane filter. For example, it is a condition that motorcyclists do not filter at a speed greater than 30km/h, or in school zones, kerbside or in a bicycle lane, and only if it is safe to do so.

In announcing last month that lane filtering would be allowed permanently, Mr Rattenbury said that an additional condition had been added, with lane filtering now not permitted in any 40km/h zone.

This includes roadworks, school zones and city centres. Learner and provisional riders are also not permitted to lane filter.

“Drivers should always be aware and cautious of motorcyclists, whether they are lane filtering or otherwise,” Mr Rattenbury said.

“Expect them to be on the roads, and be aware that they are smaller and sometimes move differently than other motor vehicles.”

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As a former motorcycle instructor and a rider of many decades I can say I do not do any lane filtering (legal below 30km/hr) or illegal lane splitting. The reason for riders to filter at traffic lights is to get to the head of the queue and and to move off quickly and aid traffic flow. The downside to this is the possibility the rider will collide with another road user running a red light as which is a common problem with drivers in Canberra. If I find myself at the head of the queue I always hold for a second after the lights change to check left and right of the intersection, then I move. The only time I ever move past a stopped queue of traffic as at roadworks stoppages where I can safely overtake and get to the front. This is mainly to avoid wet clay spray from a vehicle in front when the queue moves again.
The rider depicted in the video is lane splitting and not lane filtering. He/she is putting themselves in a dangerous position as a driver could easily be not looking in their mirrors and do a lane change on them.
All this does not however condone the actions of the driver in the video. He has used his vehicle as a weapon and should be charged or sanctioned.

It has been a week today since the incident occurred. No charges yet that we are aware of. Haven’t even heard of a sneaky TIN for not driving fully in lane. Reckon they are waiting for the heat to subside so they can ignore it as being a bit too hard?

It could be a stolen car and thus the plates not able to be used to find the offender. There are heaps of stolen cars around. After all, it’s not as though the police are generally going to chase a stolen car. They just have to watch them speed away and then turn up burnt in a forest – possibly starting a bushfire.

So where and how do you think you/we will be notified of any fines or charges? Do the coppers put out a daily charge fine sheet that none of us are aware of?

In response, surely law abiding citizens who ride motorcycles have a right to know that an alleged criminal seeking to physically injure them has been dealt with.

If the police actually bothered about the job at hand, they would have at least got their story straight on this absolutely woeful matter. The timeline was that the video was posted on Wednesday, the police posted requests for the poster to come forward on Thursday. The investigation started on Friday when they obviously realised their was some heat in the matter. Why is this important? Imagine if you were creamed by the miscreant depicted in the video on your way home from work on Thursday or Friday and then learnt that the police had known of the behaviour for at least 24 hours. By the way, has the alleged offender been arrested and charged yet?

Secondly, people post these videos on various Facebook and other social media sites because they have lost confidence in the police’s attitude towards their genuine concerns. A lot of motorcyclists and motorists have taken to installing action cameras on their motorbikes or helmets to both record great rides and for legal self protection. Most motorcyclists I know have absolutely no confidence in the police effort to take their concerns seriously, following bitter experience. I am but one of them.

I’ve got footage of dozens of examples of motorcyclists risking their lives doing things even more stupid than this driver. Filtering isn’t a problem where it’s safe to do so, the problem is only about 10% of motorcyclists do it legally and most ride with a death wish.

The laws should never have been made permanent without radical changes to the laws and rider training.

Lane filtering is allowed at lights, between stationary traffic.
Anything else is lane splitting, and is still illegal. I’ve ridden bikes for years, and if you are lane splitting, you are accepting some fairly big risk.

That being said, the guy driving that car should be arrested and charged with vehicular assault at a bare minimum.

Under the ACT’s lane filtering laws, motorcyclists are allowed to travel between stationary or slow moving vehicles, to reach the front of the traffic queue. The aim is to allow motorcyclists to move quickly and safely away from congested areas of traffic.

Yes, the front of the traffic queue. The traffic on the Majura Parkway is not queued, it is moving. Moving between cars in this situation is lane splitting, which is illegal and incredibly dangerous. I’ve done it myself more times than I can count, but I understand the risk of not being seen and having somebody change lanes on top of me. That’s why lane splitting is illegal.

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