Motorcyclists will be allowed to legally ride between cars on NSW roads from July as part of new measures to ease traffic congestion.
The NSW government on Wednesday became the first state in Australia to legalise the practice of lane filtering following a successful two month trial.
Under the scheme, fully-licensed riders will be able to ride through stationary traffic at speeds up to 30 km/h, but not in school zones, beside kerbs or next to trucks and buses.
Roads minister Duncan Gay said the decision was a common sense solution.
“Last year we held a successful trial in Sydney CBD of motorcyclists being exempt from existing lane filtering laws in an attempt to ease road congestion and measure potential safety issues for other road users,” he said.
“As a result of the trial we will introduce a new law that will permit fully licensed motorcyclists to legally filter past stationary vehicles at intersections when it is safe to do so.”
Road safety experts have cautiously welcomed the move, but urged authorities to monitor the speeds at which motorcyclists conduct lane filtering.
The chairman of road safety at the NSW injury risk management research centre, Raphael Grzebieta, said filtering between moving vehicles at speeds greater than 30km/h brought an increased risk of serious injury or death.
“At high speeds, lane filtering can become quite a concern and very dangerous – but at lower speeds it shouldn’t be an issue,” he said.
“The 30km/h threshold is very wise.
“In a 30km/h impact with a pedestrian, for instance, research has shown there’s a 10 per cent risk of a fatality or serious injury; at about 60km/h it’s around the 90 per cent mark.”
The NSW government will create a new law specifically banning riders from filtering through traffic at more than 30km/h.
Professor Grzebieta endorsed the law being limited to experienced riders and called on the RMS to monitor and evaluate the scheme after 12 months.
Motorcycle council of NSW spokesman Chris Burns welcomed the change.
“Lane filtering has been common practice for motorcycle riders across the country and overseas for decades,” he says.
“The benefits of lane filtering have been internationally recognised as a solution to traffic congestion in built up areas and will assist in relieving congestion issues on NSW’s major and minor routes thereby assisting drivers with their daily commutes.”
Mr Burns said it could also prevent riders from being injured.
“Some drivers don’t actually understand that by filtering, riders are getting out of the rear-end danger zone which is the most common crash in NSW,” he said.
“If you are in a car and you get rear ended you might get whiplash.
“If you’re on a bike you get squashed.”