An appeal against a “light penalty” for a Canberra driver who twice swerved dangerously at legally lane-filtering motorcyclists has been rejected.
The driver, Jake Searle, 28, had been charged with two counts of driving with intent to menace.
He faced maximum penalties of more than $3000 in fines or 12 months in jail or both for each of these charges.
However, the charges were downgraded as he was a first offender.
Searle was released on a one-year good behaviour order and disqualified from driving for three months. He also avoided a fine.
ACT Shadow Attorney General and Triumph Street Twin rider Jeremy Hansen last month called for an appeal.
“As a fellow rider I am very concerned by any incident that could potentially endanger the life of a motorcyclist,” he told us last month.
He says the sentence did not meet “community expectations”, so he wrote to the ACT Director of Prosecutions to ask if they intended to appeal.
Director Shane Drumgold has now rejected the appeal saying the sentences was not “manifestly below or clearly below the sentencing range” for a first offender.
We also contacted ACT Minister for Corrections and Justice Shane Rattenbury, Police Minister Mick Gentleman and Minister for Regulatory Services Gordon Ramsay for comment on the sentence.
None has yet replied.
The Australian Motorcycle Council says it is “of concern when a driver uses their vehicle in a premeditated manner, as a weapon to harm others”.
“There appears to be little distinction between the quality of actions of this driver and those of the driver who killed pedestrians in Melbourne, although a difference in the scale or degree,” the AMC says.
The incidents occurred about 4.30pm on Majura Parkway on 30 October 2018. One incident is shown in this video which we published on November 2.
ACT Police were made aware of this video a day later and began investigating.
A second video later emerged showing the same driver of the green Ford Falcon swerving at another rider just a minute later.
In his rejection of the appeal, The Director of Prosecutions confirms the riders were travelling at a legal lane-filtering speed:
Both offences involved a motorcycle lawfully lane filtering at approximately 25kph, with the offender travelling in the same direction at approximately 15kph and swerving marginally to the left to apparently scare the motor cyclist, possibly motivated by displeasure at lane filtering.
Interestingly, these incidents occurred only a few weeks after the ACT made lane filtering legal.
Lane filtering was introduced in NSW five years ago and is now legal in all states and territories.
Not only is lane filtering legal but it also benefits all motorists as it helps move heavy traffic more quickly.
You can do your bit to educate drivers by sharing our “Open letter to drivers“.
Drivers obstructing riders has been happening since lane filtering was introduced.
Check out this video from 2017 sent to us by Newcastle rider Harry Criticos.
“I was filtering legally when a driver stuck his whole body out in an attempt to block me,” the 2016 Triple Black R 1200 GS rider told us.
“I did not stop and he did make contact with the bike. I hope it hurt.”
This motorist was fined $325 and three demerit points.
Lane filtering is legal
Surely it is time for some major advertising campaigns in each state to advise motorists that riders are allowed to filter and what benefits there are for ALL motorists.
That was the major finding of an online poll we conducted in 2016, yet there are still few major ad campaigns.
So far, lane filtering education campaigns have been minimal and mainly aimed at riders, not the general motoring public.
We not only need major ad campaigns, but also roadside signage such as this photoshopped sign.
We are not aware of any polls about lane filtering in Australia.
However, in California where lane splitting (filtering at higher speeds than 30km/h) is legal, polls have found it is vastly unpopular among other road users. The main objection is that it’s unfair!
That breeds hostility which results in stupid behaviour such as in the above video.
So long as lane filtering remains unpopular and/or erroneously believed to be illegal, motorists will do stupid and dangerous things to stop riders filtering.