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Motorcycles and Lane Filtering: Is it legal in Australia?


Motorcycles and Lane Filtering: Is it legal in Australia?

Lane filtering is the act of slowly riding a motorcycle between two rows of slow-moving or stationary vehicles heading in the same direction as you. If you’re a motorbike rider, you’ve probably lane filtered before. If you’re not, it’s very likely you’ve seen lane filtering in action when traffic gets heavy.

Lane filtering is legal in most Australian states, but the rules around it differ.

Lane splitting is moving past slow-moving or stationary vehicles at an unsafe speed of 30km/h or more. No matter what state you’re in, it’s always safest to assume lane splitting is illegal.

In this blog, we discuss some of the key legal differences state by state:

Queensland

In Queensland, lane filtering is only legal when:

  • The traffic lanes are travelling in the same direction;
  • You hold an open motorcycle licence;
  • You’re travelling at 30km/h or slower; and
  • It’s safe to do so.

Lane filtering is illegal:

  • If one of the lanes is a dedicated turning lane;
  • In a school zone during school hours;
  • If you’re a learner or on a provisional licence; and
  • In a bicycle lane.

Queensland law doesn’t specify any direct prohibitions against lane splitting. However, any movement between lanes that doesn’t comply with the regulations around lane filtering will be illegal, and riders may be subject to penalties.

New South Wales

In New South Wales, lane filtering is legal at low speeds of up to 30km/h for fully licenced motorcyclists, where and when it is safe to do so.

Lane filtering is illegal:

  • between traffic and an adjacent kerb;
  • between traffic and parked vehicles;
  • in bicycle lanes;
  • in school zones; and
  • between lanes of traffic travelling in opposite directions.

Lane splitting is illegal.

Victoria

In Victoria, lane filtering is legal:

  • for licensed motorcycle riders;
  • at speeds of up to 30km/h;
  • it's safe to do so; and
  • between parked vehicles and traffic.

It is illegal:

  • in bicycle lanes;
  • between traffic and an adjacent kerb; and
  • between lanes of traffic travelling in opposite directions.

Tasmania

Lane filtering is legal in Tasmania for motorcycle riders on open licences when safe to do so.

It’s illegal to lane filter:

  • for those who hold Tasmanian or interstate learner and provisional licences;
  • at speeds greater than 30km/h;
  • travelling through a school zone during school hours;
  • next to parked cars; and
  • between the side of the road and other vehicles.

South Australia

In South Australia the laws around lane filtering are similar to other states.

It is legal for motorbike riders:

  • who hold an R or R-Date licence class (who are not required to display L or P plates). This is the same for interstate riders visiting South Australia;
  • travelling at speeds less than 30km/h; and
  • when it is safe to do so.

It is illegal:

  • travelling through a school zone or across pedestrian crossings;
  • in bicycle, bus or tram lanes;
  • between the side of the road and other vehicles;
  • next to parked cars; and
  • on roundabouts.

Western Australia

The Western Australian Roads Comission has announced new laws allowing motorcyclists to weave between lanes at traffic speeds 30km or less in the hope of easing congestion and improving rider safety.

Northern Territory

There are no specific laws in the NT relating to lane filtering at this point in time.

Australian Capital Territory

In February 2015, the ACT introduced a two-year lane filtering trial and motorcycle riders were allowed to move slowly through stopped or slowed vehicles. The trial was given the green light to continue while the government decides whether or not to make the laws legal long-term.

Motorcycle Road Rules

For more information about motorcycle road safety and separating the facts from the myths, visit https://www.shine.com.au/blog/motor-vehicle-law/motorcycle-facts-mythshttps://www.shine.com.au/blog/motor-vehicle-law/motorcycle-facts-myths.

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Written by Shine Lawyers. Last modified: October 17, 2019.

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