Motorcyclists get green light to filter through lanes

7-July-2014 General By Nicholas Satouris

Against the wishes of the NSW Police and insurance companies, the NSW Government has made lane-filtering by motorcyclists legal from 1 July 2014.

Lane filtering is when a motorcycle rider moves alongside vehicles that have stopped or are moving slowly (less than 30km/hr). It has been a common practice by motorcycle riders stuck in city traffic but up until this month has been illegal.

Strict guidelines accompany the law to ensure the safety of motorcyclists and other road users. This includes:

  • Motorcyclists must only lane filter alongside cars that have stopped or are moving slowly and the rider cannot exceed 30km/hr. Exceeding this speed risks heavy fines and the loss of 3 demerit points under the new offence called lane splitting
  • Motorcyclists must not pass to the left of cars in the kerbside lane; they cannot filter in breakdown lanes, next to parked cars or in school zones
  • Motorcyclists should not lane-filter around heavy vehicles and buses
  • Only fully licensed motorcyclists are allowed to lane-filter
  • Motorcyclists must comply with all existing road rules when lane-filtering. This includes stopping before the stop line at a red traffic light or stop sign, never in front or over it.

The new laws were proposed in February 2014 and resulted in much opposition by the stakeholders – the Insurance Council of Australia, the Pedestrian Council of Australia and the NSW Police. They were all concerned that the new laws could increase the risk of an accident for motorcyclists, other vehicle users and pedestrians.

“These new motorbike laws have been opposed by police and insurers as dangerous and risky,” said Streeterlaw’s Principal Solicitor of Commercial and Insurance Litigation, Nick Satouris. “The Government, however, ignored the police and insurers’ worries, and it will be interesting to observe the effect of these new laws in coming months.

“It appears that the advantages of lane-filtering only favour motorbike riders, with pedestrians now facing an ‘increased risk’. The Insurance Council of Australia has said they were not consulted. Insurers are concerned that these laws could result in an increased risk to motorcyclists, other vehicle users and pedestrians.”

NSW Police were concerned about the enforceability of the 30km/hr speed restriction and the distinction between lane-filtering and the new offence of lane-splitting (moving past a vehicle at more than 30km/hr).

To find out more details on the new law, go to the Transport NSW website here.

(Photo courtesy NRMA.)

Found this article useful? Feel free to share it!