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Bend some road rules for motorcycles

Road rules
Plenty of room for a rider to pass a vehicle

Lane filtering laws that are gradually filtering into more and more jurisdictions have created a precedent in our road rules that I believe should be exploited further.

These rules now recognise that motorcycles are different from other vehicles because they are narrower.

The road rules should also recognise other unique dynamics of motorcycles and change some of the road rules in accordance.

For example, I would suggest that motorcycles be allowed to overtake on single unbroken lines and to exceed the speed limit in overtaking lanes.

Allowing overtaking on unbroken white lines may seem radical and dangerous, but there are many cases where single white lines have been painted on roads yet it is safe for motorcycles to pass.

After all, motorcycles can accelerate a lot quicker than almost any car and therefore can overtake a vehicle in less time and distance than other vehicles.

That means the bike is on the wrong side of the road for less time and therefore not exposed to the danger of a head-on collision.

Let’s face it, centre line marking on many country roads has been painted for the “slowest common denominator”.

Road rules
Riders may pass other riders only if they don’t cross the unbroken line

I know of many winding scenic roads such as Mt Glorious and the Black Spur where there is a solid white line for much of the distance. In fact, for too much of the distance.

There are plenty of places on these roads where a motorcycle can easily and safely overtake a vehicle travelling at the speed limit, let alone the slow-moving Sunday drivers that frequent these roads.

In fact, it is not uncommon to witness riders flouting the centre line law and overtaking slow drivers.

Police have been known to exploit this by driving slowly on these roads in unmarked cars and videoing riders who overtake, then sending them a fine in the post. Some might call this entrapment!

I’m not suggesting open slather on all roads with single unbroken lines, but perhaps on some country roads there needs to be a sign advising that motorcycles are permitted to cross the white line when it is safe.

Road rules
Uphill passing lane

Also, setting up speed camera traps in double-lane overtaking sections on single-lane highways or on steep uphill sections is counter productive and dangerous.

All vehicles – not just motorcycles – should be allowed to marginally exceed the speed limit in these zones to make the passing manoeuvre shorter and safer.

If a vehicle is travelling at 10km/h below the speed limit and holding up a line of traffic, it can sometimes take the entire length of the double-lane section just for one or two vehicles to pass if they stay within the speed limit.

If motorists in the right lane were allowed to travel at 10km/h over the posted limit, then at least more vehicles could get past and relieve some frustration, therefore reducing the likelihood of road rage or dangerous overtaking.

What do you think?

  1. Lane filtering.. have a non riding mate who opened a car door and cleaned up a “filterer”.

    He had no idea filtering was legal now. The QLD Government has told all of us motorcyclists about the changes.. but what about telling car drivers?

    1. So he didn’t look? What the hell has legal got to do with it!
      Thats how the cyclist in melbourne was killed ,I hope he
      has his license pulled.

    2. Mark T and pete,

      As rides it is also our responsibility and it is in our interest to expose the changes to the public. Instead of wasting time online looking at bored cats and stupid crap, why don`t you share the news, tell your friends…

      Australians are becoming more lazy but with higher expectations everyday. You expect everything to be done for you… As soon as something changes, share it because your safety depends on them knowing those changes… so put a little bit of effort in it.

      1. Motorcyclists have been filtering for just about ever
        the change in the law just prevents you getting booked
        Mark T’s mate was either incompetent or malicious.
        If the act was intentional he could be facing charges
        ranging from assault to manslaughter/murder.
        Every day i see a complete disregard by some
        drivers for pedestrians cyclists and motorcyclists
        that borders on the homicidal. Driving that results
        in injury/death and multiple driving disqualified
        should be attracting life bans backed by jail.

        1. Hi Paul,
          Actually, the new laws don’t prevent you getting booked.
          The previous fines were $150 for passing on the left and 1 demerit point or failure to stay in your lane which was $75 and no points.
          Now you can cop fines over $300 and three demerit points if you don’t filter correctly such as exceeding 30km/h, filtering past a bus/truck or a kerb or in a school zone.

          1. G’day Mark i have trouble filtering my outfit anyway.
            All i’m getting that is just because someone else is
            doing something that annoys you and is possibly illegal
            that is not a reason to put them in harms way.
            Anymore than not braking for a child running in front
            of you, to teach them road safety.

  2. I like the idea of 10km/h over the limit when overtaking but I don`t know what to say about the overtaking by crossing a solid lane. Not all the riders our there know how to share the road or even how to ride properly and relaxing these laws might not have a good result. But at the end, it is our responsibility to be careful.

  3. The Mt Zero project on Mt Nebo has resulted in many more drivers pulling to the side to let motorbikes past. I don’t know what effect this had on crashes but it sure is appreciated. So I think allowing more overtaking opportunities for riders would be a good thing.

    It seems the Qld TMR have taken notice – the electronic billboards on the M1 have been advertising that lane filtering is now legal.

  4. I’d agree with an allowance (say 10%) over the speed limit in MARKED overtaking lanes ONLY if you’re overtaking another vehicle which is correctly in the LEFT lane… but I disagree with just allowing bikes to pass on solid single white lines UNLESS all the roads with single white lines were first surveyed and the lines updated to double lines where it’s unsafe for bikes (which they’re never gonna do coz it’d cost way too much).

    Simply allowing riders to ignore that rule is tacit agreement that it’s safe to do so, and I know from riding it on many occasions the Mt Nebo/Glorious have a lot of corners that AREN’T safe for bikes to pass on and only have single lines. Just because many of the bends there are safe for bikes, it doesn’t mean they all are.

  5. great ideas, but very hard to sell to the masses. we will have to avoid words like exploit. focus on the specific area idea, and that bikes have differnt dynamics, different laws apply to cyclist to an expend because of different dynamics :one meter clear; riding 2 abreast, (are motorcycles allowed 2 breast in the same way?)

  6. Why not just get rid of unbroken centre lines all together for all road users?

    Then people would have to make their own decisions about whether its safe based on the conditions at the time, and not on what the line painter decided. There often isn’t any science that goes into line marking, just like advisory corner speeds.

    Have you ever come across a slow moving vehicle, say like a tractor, and then passed it because it was safe to do so even though there was an unbroken line? Was it legal because it was a tractor, or because they were going under 20 kph?

    Teach/educate road users to make their own responsible decisions. All our lawmaking seems to be about absolving road users from making their own decisions because some sign writer and law maker has already second guessed the situation for them….

    1. According to the road rules, you can only cross the white line to pass a moving bicycle, or stationary vehicles that have parked, broken down or crashed, not moving slowly! Ridiculous, isn’t it?
      You can, of course, pass a motorcycle or bicycle if they are in the left of the lane and you can get past without crossing the white line.

  7. We should be allowed to use the performance, manoeuvrability and small size of our motorcycles to enhance our safety and improve traffic flow, just like we used to do. There have been a lot of changes over the 42 years that I have been riding. The biggest change has been the level of enforcement of the road rules and the severity of the penalties. As a result I now ride more dangerously than in the past because I no longer have the freedom to use the performance and manoeuvrability of my bike to get myself out of, and keep myself out of, dangerous situations. In those 42 years I have never required medical treatment from a motorcycle accident and have never been in an accident that involved another vehicle, so my safety strategies must be working. An important part of those strategies is to distance myself from other vehicles whenever possible. To do this I have at times exceeded the speed limit and crossed unbroken lines to overtake rather than be the ‘meat in the sandwich’ between two larger vehicles, and have done U-turns in places where it is not permitted but completely safe rather than have to do them at dangerous intersections.

    Motorcycling would be safer if we were allowed to briefly exceed the speed limit (on the open road) by 20km/h for quick overtaking. This is not dangerous as some people think, and is usually safer than having your view obstructed or being between other vehicles. If, for example, you were overtaking a vehicle that is doing 90km/h in a 100km/h zone by the time you reached 120km/h you would have passed the other vehicle and be far enough ahead to move back into the left lane and slow down again, so you would only be exceeding the speed limit for a few seconds. On a bike with good power it is done very quickly, whereas staying in a more dangerous situation behind the other vehicle can go on for a long time.

    It is safe for motorcycles to overtake in many places where there is an unbroken white line because the markings are designed to suit cars which have nowhere near the performance and manoeuvrability of our bikes. But if this was allowed it doesn’t mean that you can overtake anywhere at anytime without looking. Even where overtaking is permitted now you still have to look and judge for yourself if it is safe, so this would be no different. The lines would still be there which would indicate that you have to be extra sure before pulling out. And if you are unsure about this you can simply abide by the same rules as cars do. Nobody is saying that you would have to overtake. Allowing motorcycles to overtake quickly and in more places would benefit all road users because we would get out of their way and they could use the next opportunity to overtake.

    There are many places where it is completely safe for motorcycles to do a U- turn, because of their size and manoeuvrability, but it is not permitted because the road markings are designed to suit cars. If motorcyclists were allowed to do U-turns anywhere it would allow us to avoid trying to do them in congested intersections. Again the riders would have to judge for themselves if it is safe and if you are unsure about it don’t do it. This too would benefit all road users because we would get out of their way so it would reduce congestion. It would also save time and fuel, and reduce emissions. If it was permitted these (extra) U-turns would have to be done in a way that causes no disruption to other vehicles, which means not making them stop or slow down.

    If changes like this were made to the road rules the most important part would be educating all road users, including car drivers so they know what motorcyclists are allowed to do, and new riders so they know how to do it. Particular emphasis should be placed on teaching new riders to think for themselves and make correct judgements. Just because something is allowed does not mean it is safe at that particular time and place. If anybody is unsure about the changes the solution is simple, just abide by the same rules as cars do. I want the freedom to think for myself and use the capabilities of my bike for the benefit of myself and others instead of being handicapped by rules that are designed for cars. The introduction of filtering shows that this can be done.

    1. Well said, Michael.
      That’s 100% absolutely right … no one is forcing people to speed, but if you need to, why should you be penalised when you are only taking the safe option!

  8. Hi , I have been a motorbike rider since Moses was a baby .
    Funny thing is ,I also drive cars, trucks, 4x4s etc , and all this talk about bending the rules for those of us that ride m’bikes has its fair points.
    But ! Because of my occupation, I am on the road every day and I am worried about where we are heading.
    Rules are there for us all , when people dont follow them or they BEND them, thats where people end up getting hurt.
    Sure , I do agree that a rider with a pinch of common sense would make these little BENDS in the road laws work , but frankly there seems to be a growing minority of IQ deficient riders out there, you can tell them from a mile away – they are the ones with the bitumin proof skin , they wear protective thongs, shorts and tshirts and have a total disregaurd for anything that cramps their style, and there is no particular age group, new and seasoned riders alike..
    These heros already BEND the rules, but hey , just make it legal, lets see how far we can go !
    While we are at it, lets make it legal for anyone that drives a 400+kw car to overtake in these SAFE areas with double lines, they would be able to overtake a slow car just as easily as some overconfident hero on a m’bike.
    Lane filtering has been going on forever, risk your life to save a couple of minutes, now that it is legal with set limitations, that will become a new challenge……
    I love my m’cycles and there is nothing like a lengthy stint in the saddle, but rules are rules – I think we need more education and awarness of the road rules – if they were practiced properly by all road users there would be no need for rule BENDING…would there?
    Happy safe riding……..

    1. Brad, everybody has their own riding style and different things suit different people. A lot of the friction between members of the motorcycling community is caused by some riders thinking that what they ride, where they ride and how they ride is everything that there is to do with motorcycling, and that everybody else does the same. Some people ride very conservatively, because they think that means safely, and don’t make use of the advantages that motorcycles offer. Those advantages include the ability to improve safety and traffic flow. If what you are doing works for you, stick with it. But most of us would benefit from the changes we are suggesting.

      From my experience (which is extensive and diverse) the worst thing you can do when riding a motorcycle is to go with the flow of the traffic because that is when people don’t see you. Humans don’t actually ‘see’ (mentally acknowledge) exactly what is in front of their eyes. We only mentally acknowledge what our brain interprets of what our eyes see (in the past I took an interest in psychology). At times we only acknowledge what we want to see. Car drivers, like everybody else, are heavily focussed on their own safety, and this heavy focus can make them only acknowledge what they perceive to be a threat to themselves. This means that they will always acknowledge a truck or bus but not always a motorcycle. This is one of the causes of SMIDSY, but it doesn’t justify it because it shows that the driver has adopted the attitude of “I’m alright and nobody else matters”.

      If all traffic moves in unison the smallest vehicles (motorcycles) have a high chance of not being noticed. But if a motorcycle moves out of unison with the other traffic it has a much greater chance of being noticed. It is like when you can’t find the cursor on you computer monitor, but you see it instantly when you move the mouse. Riding a little aggressively and erratically, without riding dangerously, improves you safety because you will be noticed.

      Yes, rules are rules. But sometimes the rules are wrong, and rather than have riders bend or break them we are asking for the rules to be changed to make them better. The important part about these changes is that they would give riders more control over their own safety, and be less dependant on other people (such as inattentive car drivers) doing the right thing. It would make motorcyclists less likely to be innocent victims of other people’s irresponsible behaviour. A big issue is that our ever increasing population means that measures need to be taken to reduce traffic congestion. If changes can be made that improve safety for motorcyclists and reduce traffic congestion at the same time, as filtering does, it is a ‘win, win’ situation.

      1. Piease , dont get me wrong – I agree with the idealism of it all.
        I get annoyed when stuck behind someone that is just dawdling along like they own the road, particually in areas where we are not allowed to overtake them, but, old mate who owns the road should pull over, where it is safe to do so, and let the rest of the world go around, yeah I know, I can be idealistic as well.
        Again, I can only agree with the thoughts about heavy traffic situations, the law makers are at last begining to help out us QLDers with that, lane filtering is a good idea, when done by riders with an IQ higher than their shoe size, I have seen too many heros out there, these new laws are a privilage, not a right to prove your GP manoeuvring abilities.
        My current ride is a Boulevard C109RT, with enough power and torque to reverse the earth’s rotation, but alas, not the best for squeezing between lanes of slow traffic, slight girth problem, I guess you cant have everything.
        As I’ve mentioned before, I drive heavy vehicles and I am particually vigilant for fellow bike riders , but I can tell you, I have on the odd occasion, come close to producing widows.
        Try spoting a motorcycle out of a semi’s rear view mirrors while it sneaks up between you and the traffic in the other lane, thats after it has been sitting a metre behind your rear number plate, life changing experience I can tell you, and it is not a rare occurance.
        Yes, there are many experienced riders out there, such as yourself, that would not get themselves into such a situation, its called common scence, alas it is becoming rare.
        Happy safe riding…

  9. Sadly, the more we are ruled, the less accustomed we become to needing or using commonsense.
    I’m sure we all see many examples of dangerous driving that occur despite the rules/signs/markings. Those that are at fault will likely always be, regardless of the rules. Why not treat the rest of us (the majority) as sensible, mature, rational human beings, capable and intelligent enough to get from here to there safely. After all most of us don’t want to die on the roads. So what if that means occasionally exceeding some historical speed limit. So what if that means going over a bit of paint that’s been subjectively painted on the bitumen – (haven’t we all seen broken lines that we’ve thought too dangerous to cross)? If it’s done safely then where is the issue? No-one is suggesting a no rules/open slather policy – there will still be limits. At worst it won’t hurt, at best it might actually help. But perhaps our governments would prefer to see more frustrated drivers break more rules and pay more fines.

  10. when you limit people you get limited people.
    All the swaddling in cotton wool has achieved is bad drivers with bad manners and a higher death toll. We now have A pillars that are so thick you can hide a bus with them let alone a pedestrian or motorcyclist. We have the speed kills mantra that is causing drivers and riders to stare at the speedometer and drive to the limit instead of driving safely at a speed appropriate to the circumstance. The silliest thing about speed kills is that it is not exceeding the limit that causes all the death and carnage it’s driving too fast for the circumstances but below the limit that causes it all and random taxing a motorist or rider for exceeding the limit to overtake safely has a detrimental effect on road safety not a positive one as all the revenue junkies claim.

  11. People who can’t paint do colouring by numbers
    1=red, 2=blue, 3=green . . etc
    People who can’t drive do driving by numbers
    40k 50k 60k 70k 80k 90k . . etc

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