What Traffic?

It’s old news really, but it is almost a reality. At the time of posting this, approximately 25 days sit between us and the legalisation of lane filtering in New South Wales. Here’s a run-down of what you need to know.

In case you’ve been living under a rock this year and haven’t looked into the specifics; this is a huge step forward for riders in NSW and will very likely prompt other states/territories to look at similar legislative changes. That said, this win comes with a few conditions (I’ve included an excerpt from Minister Duncan Gay’s media release covering these below):

  • Filtering only permitted when it is ‘safe to do so’. Situations where it is not ‘safe to do so’ may include:
    • When the manoeuvre is at high speed between moving traffic; and…
    • Riders will be required to comply with all other road rules when performing the lane filtering manoeuvre, including rules that do not allow them to overtake to the left of vehicles in the kerbside lane (adjacent to a pedestrian path), travel in the breakdown lane, or when filtering around trucks and buses.
  • Imposing a speed limit of 30km/h:
    • Clearly defines the maximum speed riders are allowed to filter at. This makes it clear that filtering over the speed limit of 30km/h is illegal.
    • Setting at 30km/h will limit filtering to slow moving traffic where vehicles are moving at or below this speed.
    • This speed is 10km/h lower than the 40km/h limit currently implemented in high pedestrian activity zones.
  • Limit filtering to fully licenced riders only (excluding Learner or Provisional riders):
    • Manoeuvre only allowed by experienced riders who may have more highly developed hazard perception and motorcycle handling skills.
    • May reduce risk of inexperienced riders having crashes associated with inadequate gap selection or awareness of pedestrians/other road users while filtering.
  • No filtering in school zones during hours of operation:
    • Ensures that filtering does not occur around schools on multi-lane roads where there may be an increase in pedestrian activity by children.

At a glance, the conditions for legally lane filtering (come July 1st) look fairly well thought out. If you’re anything like me – the day this was announced I started paying a little closer attention to my speed when filtering (yeah, yeah…) I was a quite pleased to find that I very seldom found myself going above 30km/h when moving between cars. I did find that I pushed this limit a little when picking some gaps to move back into the traffic line-up, but for the most part, travelling between cars was comfortable at 30km/h.

Interestingly enough, the Centre for Road Safety makes the following distinction between lane filtering and lane splitting:

  • Lane filtering will be where a motorcycle rider moves past stationary or slow moving vehicles travelling in the same lane safely at a speed of 30km/h or under. Lane filtering will become legal.
  • Lane splitting will be where a motorcycle rider moves past vehicles travelling in the same lane at an unsafe speed of over 30km/h. Lane splitting will remain illegal.

I was aware that moving through stationary traffic was becoming legal, however it is a pleasant surprise for me to find that this condition is broadened to include traffic moving at up to 30km/h.

It’s all a little funny really… Looking forward to the legalisation of lane filtering, when it is so common-place already. It does beg the question – will these new laws mean that lane filtering in general will be regulated more actively?

I’m picturing L & P platers getting stung more frequently… But how easy could it possibly be to accurately measure the speed of a motorcycle filtering through traffic to ensure that the 30km/h limit is abided by?

…. Anywayyy, don’t forget (if you’re a NSW resident) that double demerits are in place over this moist-looking long weekend. Just remember; these aren’t the double-D’s you’re looking for!

In case you’re interested; the Centre for Road Safety has a full lane filtering FAQ available, and here’s Minister Gay’s full lane filtering media release.


The Centre for Road Safety posted this video outlining the information I wrote up earlier this month – check it out:

For a full information sheet, please check out the new lane filtering laws page recently created on the Centre for Road Safety website.