Version 1.4: 13 November 2015
Well, finally, we are legally allowed to lane filter on a motorcycle.This article is an attempt to gather up as much information as possible. Bear in mind that while other States also have lane filtering laws, they differ from Victoria's and we won't be looking at them in this article.
WARNING WARNING - I am not writing this piece up as legal advice, these are purely my views on the new legislation. If you have any concerns about the new legislation, ring Vic Roads or talk to a lawyer! Do NOT rely on what is written here for anything other than amateur guidance.
So what is Lane Filtering?
Lane filtering is defined by Vic Roads as follows:
This is different from lane splitting, which is moving in between and passing traffic at high speeds.
The Rules on Lane Filtering
I'm just going to repeat some info that is already out there but I'll put some references to articles below.
- The relevant road rules are Road Rules 151A. and 151B, plus assorted amendments throughout the Rules to reflect the legality of lane filtering. You'll find the relevant legislation here.
- Lane filtering rules allow the rider to:
- Ride between two adjacent lines of traffic travelling in the same direction as the motorcycle
- Ride between two vehicles within a single marked lane and separate but adjacent marked lane (regardless of whether the rider remains in a single marked lane) going in the same direction as the motorcycle.
- Ride between a vehicle travelling in the same direction and adjacent parked vehicle or line of parked vehicles.
- The restriction on how lane filtering is done are as follows:
- lane filtering can only be performed at a speed of no more than 30km/h. Any more than that and its 3 penalty units, but no points.
- you'll not be allowed to engage in lane filtering where it is unsafe to do so
- You have to have either a provisional licence or a full licence. If you only have a learner's permit - you're not allowed!
- you'll not be allowed to engage in lane filtering where signs indicate that lane filtering is not allowed. The signs look like this:
Pretty straight forward, right? Well so far yes. But here are a few things that are worth taking into account.
What if I pass a vehicle on the left of me but within double white lines to the right of me?
Well, that's not lane filtering, that's overtaking and you will be committing an offence under Rule 132. Its also "filtering" between lines of traffic going in opposite directions and that's a no no.
What if I am in a school zone? Are school zones excluded from lane filtering rules?
Nope they're not. According to the Vic Roads FAQ:
"Unlike other states Victoria does not have ‘start school zone’ and ‘end school zone’ signs at all areas with reduced speed limits around schools. In fact ‘school zones’ are not special zones, they are just areas with reduced speed limits or reduced speed limits at certain times. This can make it difficult for a road user unfamiliar with an area to know whether or not a 40 km/h speed limit is for a school or some other reason."
What about lane filtering where there are roadworks?
The rules don't IMHO don't differentiate. So long as you stick to the rules it looks like you'll be OK Bear in mind that the overriding rule is that you can lane filter only when it is safe to do so.
Can I lane filter to the front at a roundabout
I think that the answer to this is probably, but you must be in the appropriate lane when entering or leaving the roundabout. There are specific rules for entering and leaving a roundabout (for example see Rules 110 onwards) and they are not excluded in the new lane filtering rules.
Am I allowed to lane filter between slow/static traffic and a kerbside?
No. See the table of examples on the Vic Roads website. My view is that we're talking about kerbs on both sides of the road.
Having said that, Rob Salvatore from VMC has pointed Road Rule 141.1(c) which allows you to overtake on the left hand side of the road in a single lane where the vehicle in front of you is stationary and it is safe to do so.
Am I allowed to lane filter with a pillion on the back?
There is nothing in the legislation that I can see would prohibit this. Again we come back to that ubiquitous phrase "when it is safe to do so"
What if there is only one lane marked but 2 cars can and do go side by side. Can I filter?
Yep. The marked lines don't matter. See Rule 7 in the Road Safety Road Rules Amendment (Lane Filtering) Rules 2015 If you can get safely between two vehicles, you're OK. In Ballarat if you are travelling past Target on your right on Doveton Street South towards Sturt Street, *my* view is that you can filter.
What if there is only one marked lane but 2 cars can and usually go side by side but there is only one car in front of you?
Go for it. That's not lane filtering, that's just using the road as vehicles can.
If the traffic is stopped and I cannot make my way up to the front of the traffic, am I allowed to stop between lanes while I am lane filtering?
IMHO, yes.You are still lane filtering even though you are not moving at the time.
Can I continue lane filtering while riding through an intersection?
Yes. Check out the table on the Vic Roads website that deals with lane filtering, here.
If I have a motorcycle with a sidecar attached, does the new lane filtering legislation apply to me?
AFAIK - yes it does! The legislation applies to riders of 'motor cycles'. Under s 3(1) of the Road Safety Act 1986 (Vic) the definition of a 'motor cycle' is as follows:
Nothing in the new legislation excludes sidecar combinations, but again, "as long as it is safe to do so".
Trike owners - tough luck. You are defined differently in s 3(1). You are not a motor cycle or motor bike. So you can't filter.
The Rule of 'Me'
This is the most important rule of all. If you are in a situation of potentially being able to lane filter, but ..... you are not comfortable doing it ........ DON'T. There is nothing in the legislation that says you *have* to lane filter on a bike. As with all aspects of riding, don't go where you don't want to go and above all don't bow to peer pressure.
Just because your buddies are charging through, doesn't mean you have to. The simple and caring practice at Ballarat Riders is, if others get ahead, they'll be there waiting for you at the next turning point. Group rides are just that ... group rides, not group races.
In the meantime, here are some links to resources and materials about lane filtering :-)
Links and resources about Lane Filtering