By Jeremy Rochow
Published: Thursday, March 14, 2019
It’s peak hour and traffic has backed up along South Australia’s arterial roads. While you’re stuck in traffic, a motorcycle rides past between vehicles and stops at the front of the queue to cross an intersection.
‘Surely that’s not legal’, you think. But you might be surprised to find out, it is.
Lane filtering – where a motorcycle rider travels at low speed in between 2 lanes of slow moving or stationary vehicles – was made legal in South Australia in 2017.
While the practice can help with congestion and be safer for motorcyclists, there are precautions both riders and drivers need to take to ensure the practice remains safe.
Keep it legal
Motorcyclists need to follow a number of rules when lane filtering. They should only filter when it’s safe and practical, travel no faster than 30km/h, and make every attempt to avoid collisions.
Only motorcyclists on R and R-date, P2 licences can lane filter – People with a P1 provisional or learner’s permit are not allowed to. Motorcyclists are prohibited from lane filtering in bike lanes and through roundabouts, school zones and crossings.
The penalty for unlawful lane filtering is a $379 fine plus a $60 Victim of Crimes Levy, and attracts 3 demerit points.
The penalty for unlawful lane filtering
Check the gap
Before you weave your way through banked up traffic, make sure there’s enough room. If you’re unable to safely navigate the lane and merge back into vehicle flow, hang back and wait until it’s safe.
You should also look out for large vehicles and trucks, as they may obstruct your path and pose a safety risk.
Trucks also have a blind spot around the cab area so they may not be aware that you’re filtering.
You never know when a motorist might change lanes, so it’s a good idea to cover the front-brake lever with two fingers as you’re lane filtering.
If you have to stop quickly, you’ll have a better reaction time, which means you’ll be able to pull up safely.
Check your mirrors
Sometimes motorcyclists can be difficult to see, so before making any manoeuvre while you’re in traffic, check your mirrors and blind spots for riders lane filtering.
Use your indicator
Signalling your intentions when changing lanes or merging with traffic will let motorcyclists – and any other road users – know where you’re going.
If other road users know where you’re travelling then you’re less likely to have a collision. It’s also a legal requirement. Failing to indicate properly could result in a $317 fine, $60 Victims of Crime Levy and 2 demerit points.
Try to keep to the middle of your lane when you stop in traffic. This will give motorcyclists enough room to pass safely without making contact with your vehicle.
One thing we can all agree on
Whether you’re a cyclist, driver or motorcyclist, we all need to share the road, so it’s important to show courtesy. As a driver, motorcyclists will appreciate it if you move over and let them pass when you can.
If you’re a motorcyclist and someone moves over to give you room, give them a friendly wave.
Try to be patient if a driver doesn’t move over or blocks your path, and wait until you have a clear lane to pass through.