sign prohibiting motorcycle filtering

Motorcycle Lane Filtering

An example of laws catching up with a widespread “unenforced” road rule, motorcyclists in Victoria were given specific exemption to the normal lane sharing rules allowing them to “filter” through traffic by using the gaps between cars, this simple concept was transformed into the following verbose and prescriptive rules:

151A Lane filtering at excessive speed
The rider of a motor cycle must not engage in lane filtering at a speed greater than 30 km per hour along a length of road.

lane filtering means when the rider of a motor cycle rides along a length of road between—
(a) two adjacent lines of traffic travelling in the same direction as the motor cycle; or
(b) two vehicles (regardless of whether the rider remains within a single marked lane) and each vehicle is travelling in—
(i) the same direction as the motor cycle; and (ii) separate, but adjacent, marked lanes; or
(c) a vehicle travelling in the same direction as the motor cycle and an adjacent parked vehicle or line of parked vehicles—
but does not include overtaking.

When completed within these rules it looks like this:

The rider moves at a slow pace through the stopped traffic and waits in a suitable gap behind the stop line for the traffic to move off. However as the old proverb goes, give an inch and they’ll take a mile. Here the motorcyclist filters through the waiting traffic and then proceeds through a red light into the pedestrian crossing to get a jump on the rest of the vehicles.

Never mind the $1555 fine, motorcyclists never had the existing laws enforced to prevent lane filtering so some will continue to ignore all the other laws they feel shouldn’t apply. This can be seen repeated at many intersections.

Except in this case the motorcyclist is now illegally filtering between the kerb and the left most traffic lane, because there aren’t two lanes approaching this intersection to provide the space for filtering (a further possible $777 fine for overtaking on the left). Its worse when you see the context from behind the motorcyclist.

Motorcyclists are happily using the bicycle infrastructure (a further possible $777 fine) and then continuing filtering along illegally to jump the red light. Back with the idioms, once they’re in for a penny, they’re in for a pound and may as well break all the rules one after another. Thats until you meet the truly fearless.

Interestingly the fine for ignoring a red light is the same no matter when the driver proceeds through it, or the speed they are travelling so the total possible fines remain at $3109 or more.

Its only these motor cyclists breaking the law that stand out, you don’t notice the majority following the road rules and waiting in the traffic queues. From the previous work exposing the relative risk that different modes of transport represent to each other motorcyclists present a disturbingly large risk of killing pedestrians competing with heavy vehicles at more than twice as dangerous as cars. Despite all the media and advertising attention the dangers of bicycles get, pedestrians are greater than 10 times more likely to be killed by a motorcycle, we have the laws in place to protect them but they’re impotent as ever without enforcement.

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