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Lane Filtering FAQ

The Legislation

file Here is the PDF for download


What is motorcycle lane filtering?

Motorcycle lane filtering is when a motorcycle rider moves between stationary or slow moving vehicles in the same lane.

Why change the law?

The motorcycle community has for some time sought to have lane filtering made legal, arguing that it:

• is safe

• has the potential to help ease traffic congestion, especially with the number of motorcyclists on our roads increasing every year.

Lane filtering is often practised on NSW roads, especially where there is traffic congestion.

TfNSW (Transport for NSW) led a motorcycle lane filtering trial in 2013. The trial’s aim was to identify any potential benefits or risks to road safety and traffic flow for all road users if lane filtering was allowed.

How was the lane filtering trial developed?

On 18 October 2012, the Minister for Roads and Ports announced that there would be a trial of motorcycle lane filtering in the Sydney CBD.

TfNSW led the trial, which was held between 1 March and 30 April 2013. It was developed in consultation with:

• NSW Police

• City of Sydney Council

• Motorcycle Council of NSW

• NSW Motorcycle Alliance

• Roads and Maritime Services

• Australian Motorcycle Council.

An independent consultant, ARRB Group, was engaged to manage monitoring of traffic movement and road user behaviour during the trial, and to independently evaluate the impact of motorcycle lane filtering on traffic congestion, road safety risk and behaviour for all road users.

What was the purpose of the trial?

The purpose of the trial was to investigate the impact of allowing motorcyclists to legally lane filter on traffic congestion and road safety. Some questions which needed to be looked at included:

• Does lane filtering affect travel time for motorcyclists and general traffic?

• Does lane filtering affect the overall level of congestion?

• Does lane filtering affect road safety for all road users?

The final report for the trial was received by TfNSW in November 2013. TfNSW has analysed its contents in close consultation with the NSW Police Force.

Were there any crashes during the trial?

There were no crashes in the trial zone during the two-month trial.

What did the trial find?

TfNSW has identified that:

• Despite being (at the time) illegal, lane filtering is often practised on NSW roads.

• Lane filtering is a relatively low risk riding activity for motorcyclists when done in lower risk / low speed traffic situations (30km/h and under).

• When lane filtering is done at higher speeds (faster than 30km/h – ‘lane splitting’), crash risks increase for motorcycle riders and other road users, particularly pedestrians and cyclists.

• The trial showed that lane filtering improved travel times for motorcyclists over short sections of the Sydney CBD. While motorcycles are increasing in popularity, they still only make up a relatively small proportion of overall traffic. For this reason, the trial did not show a reduction in congestion for all traffic. However it is expected that removing some motorcycles from traffic queues will help to minimise queuing at intersections.

As the number of motorcycles increases, it is clear that overall congestion would be improved.

What else has been done to evaluate lane filtering?

In addition to the lane filtering trial, TfNSW has:

• analysed motorcycle crash data to identify any crash risks that may be associated with lane filtering

• reviewed Australian and international research on lane filtering

• reviewed international approaches to lane filtering and lane splitting

• extensively consulted with NSW Police and motorcycling groups such as the Motorcycle Council of NSW and the NSW Motorcycle Alliance.

What is being done in response?

The NSW Government reviewed the findings of the report, NSW crash analysis and the approach taken in other jurisdictions, and as a result proposed a new approach for lane filtering in NSW.

Based on TfNSW’s recommendation, the Government decided to:

• Make lane filtering legal when done safely at a speed 30km/h or under (See conditions below).

• Create a new offence of ‘lane splitting’ to outlaw dangerous behaviour where a motorcycle rider moves past vehicles in the same lane unsafely at a speed faster than 30km/h.

• Launch an awareness campaign to educate all road users about:

o the difference between lane filtering and lane splitting

o how lane filtering can be done safely for all road users

o the need for all road users to be aware of motorcyclists that may be lane filtering.

What’s the difference between lane filtering and lane splitting under the new law?

• Lane filtering will be where a motorcycle rider rides past stationary or slow moving vehicles travelling in the same lane safely at a speed 30km/h or under. Lane filtering will become legal.

• Lane splitting will be where a motorcycle rider rides past vehicles travelling in the same lane at an unsafe speed of over 30km/h. Lane splitting remains illegal.

What conditions will apply to lane filtering?

To minimise safety risks, lane filtering is:

• only allowed when safe to do so

• not allowed at a speed greater than 30km/h

• only allowed by fully licensed riders (i.e. riders on their Ls or Ps are not be allowed to lane filter)

• not allowed in a school zone during school zone hours.

Riders will also be warned not to lane filter near heavy vehicles or buses.

Do the new lane filtering laws apply to bicycle riders?

The new motorcycle lane filtering laws do not apply to bicycle riders. Existing law continue to apply to bicycle riders.

1. File description: Lane Filtering Legislation [33.9KB]

File name: 2014-383.pdf