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Drivers believe lane filtering is ‘unfair’

Lane filtering lane splitting congestion

As lane filtering becomes legal in more Australian and American states, drivers are expected to become more jealous but less aggressive over time.

Riders in Queensland and NSW where lane filtering has become legal and the ACT where it is trialled have reported incidences of drivers trying to prevent them from lane filtering. (It becomes legal in Victoria on November 2.)

However, a Californian Motorcycle Lane-Sharing study shows that the incidence of drivers trying to prevent riders from filtering through lanes will decrease over time.

The study of lane splitting (filtering at speed) was conducted over three years by Ewald & Wasserman Research Consultants in California where the practice is not legally sanctioned, but allowed, mainly so bike cops can move through traffic in hot conditions on air-cooled motorcycles.

For the past few years, lane splitting has increased as the Californian Government considers legalising the practice. Several other US states are also considering lane-slitting laws.Lane filtering lane splitting

The study shows that in 2012, 7.3% of drivers tried to prevent riders from splitting lanes. This figure almost halved over the next two years as the practice became more prevalent.

In 2012, the principal reason given by one in four drivers for preventing a rider from splitting lanes was that it was unsafe.

However, that was surpassed in 2014 by one in four drivers who now believe the main problem is that it is unfair that riders get ahead of them.

Three out of every five drivers surveyed still think lane splitting should be illegal with women 10% more negative about the laws than men.

However, of those drivers who approve of lane splitting, almost one in four agrees that it helps reduce congestion while one in four believes it is safe.

So while Aussie riders may experience some aggravation in the first couple of years of lane filtering, it is expected to die down as more and more drivers see it as a safe way to reduce traffic congestion.

And as driver frustration and envy grows at riders slipping through traffic jams, we can only hope more drivers convert to two wheels.

  1. There are so many comments that can be made on this topic that not all can be included here.

    Finally being made legal in Victoria as of 2nd November is great news for all motorcyclists. Many already do it to great effect with safety, whilst are reckless. No doubt these are the ones that annoy car drivers and other riders. The best news is that you can do it to the left of traffic between parked cars. Previously this was not permitted, over taking on the left. A lot of times there is more road space in this area given the road design such as Sydney Road with trams.

    In the long run it comes down to the rider’s experience, confidence, riding style, and the size of the bike. I have a HD Tourer so it is not always possible to split like a narrower sports bike. At times when I do get stuck in slow moving traffic it reall is a PITA working the clutch, brake whilst sitting over a hot motor, especially on a very hot day.

    I don’t think that the limit of 30km will be a problem on most situations with considerate riders. There’s not much difference between 30 and 40 which is now the norm in many strip shopping areas.

    Time will tell if other road users accept it. Let’s hope that the inconsiderate riders don’t stuff it up for the rest.

    1. So true Erik. One of the conversations needs to be to remind drivers that if we are ahead of the traffic, it actually helps traffic flow, and makes their drive to work quicker! If they scoff at that, which many probably will, point them to the following:
      I also agree that us bikers HAVE to be cooperative with car drivers about this. Good PR will win people over, not snarly wanna-be’s threatening others.

  2. First off the clarification off splitting as opposed to filtering was a bit or rather a lot unclear.
    Filtering occurs mainly when traffic is stopped about to stop or traveling very slowly,(avoid filtering as traffic is starting up again as it is too dangerous due to sudden lane changes etc wait till it has normalised )
    Lane splitting occurs at speeds close to the limit in light to heavy traffic usually to pass a couple of road hogs driving side by side.
    The only thing that makes either of these practices dangerous is incompetent drivers who hop between lanes or turn across multiple lanes or open their doors without looking.
    The thing that makes drivers think it is dangerous is that that are often startled by the sudden appearance of a bike.

  3. I ride in England, land of polite queueing. Filtering is expected of bikers here, even on cruisers with wide luggage. Filtering is encouraged by both police, independent organisations and the driving standards agency, all of whom offer advanced training.

    It’s something that I’ve only recently felt proper confident doing after 4 high-mileage years. For the most part other motorists make room and will wave me through if we come to a choke point, they know I won’t hold them up. I occasionally get hastle, obstruction or open doors from people who don’t think it’s fair that my scummy old bike should get there faster then their overpowered and underutilised luxury car. Once I got a lecture from a driving instructor. I suggested she contact the IAM for advice.

    In heavy, routine, commuter traffic it’s very much expected. Roadworks or places that don’t usually get traffic are where one finds hostile drivers, which suggests to me the more normal filtering becomes, the less of an issue it becomes.

  4. You tend to find in lanes of merging traffic while most are
    happy to let vehicles in to keep the traffic flowing there are
    always a few idiots who go out of their way to block others.
    You will probably find these are the same people giving motorcyclists
    a hard time. Just ignorant and arrogant

  5. It’s not fair when it rains and I get wet.
    It’s not fair when I get cold.
    If you wish to sit in a tonne of glass and steel to transport your fat lonely arse it’s not fair that I should have to wait because you almost block the whole lane.
    The Europeans manage it why the hell can’t Australian drivers get it ?

  6. I lane filter up here in Townsville, and haven’t had one person try to cut me off. I was even once approaching a set of lights and a truck was in front of me, he slowed right down and “waved” me through, and left room in front of him for me to fit. Must have been a fellow rider. 🙂

  7. Not long before it was legalised here in QLD, 2 women in a car chased me in heavy traffic and tried to run me out of my lane while yelling abuse at me. I had filtered passed on their left at about 20km/h. To this day I still wonder what triggered such rage, but clearly they felt that I had threatened them in some way. Despite their aggressive response they also referred to a police car that was visible not far away, suggesting that the occupants would deal appropriately with me and my bad behaviour. Thankfully, I find the vast majority of drivers to be OK in regards to filtering, both before and after the recent legislation. I have also noticed recently a few riders who appeared to be abusing the privilege, which does nothing to engender respect from other road users.

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