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What is motorcycle lane filtering and is it legal?


Lane filtering is legal in all Australian states and territories, but the rules around it differ. Make sure you know the difference between lane splitting and lane filtering as well as motorcycle filtering laws, regardless of your location.

What is the difference between lane splitting and lane filtering?

Lane filtering is the act of slowly riding a motorcycle (less than 30km/h) 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, you've likely seen lane filtering in action when traffic gets heavy.

Lane splitting on the other hand, is the act of moving at an unsafe speed of 30km/h or more past slow-moving or stationary vehicles. No matter what state you’re in lane splitting is illegal.

Motorcycle filtering laws in your state

Click on your state to read the motorcycle filtering laws

Queensland

In Queensland, lane filtering is only legal when you hold an open licence and:

  • the traffic lanes are travelling in the same direction;
  • 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 bicycle lane;
  • between a vehicle and the kerb;
  • in a school zone during school zone hours; and
  • where there are ‘no filtering’ signs present.

New South Wales

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

Lane filtering is illegal:

  • between a vehicle and the kerb;
  • next to parked vehicles;
  • in bicycle lanes;
  • in school zones; and
  • between lanes of traffic travelling in opposite directions.

Victoria

In Victoria, lane filtering is legal:

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

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 fully licensed motorcycle riders travelling at speeds of up to 30km/h when safe to do so.

It’s illegal to lane filter:

  • for those who hold Tasmanian or interstate learner and provisional licences;
  • 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 lane filtering is legal for motorbike riders:

  • who hold a 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 to lane filter:

  • 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

In March 2021, the Western Australian government passed legislation allowing motorcycle riders to lane filter in certain circumstances.

In Western Australia, lane filtering is legal for motorcycle riders travelling at no more than 30 km/h, between two lanes of stationary or slow-moving vehicles travelling in the same direction, when it is safe to do so.

It's illegal to lane filter:

  • across pedestrian, children’s or marked foot crossings;
  • within school or shared zones;
  • when the signed speed limit is 40km/h or below;
  • between one or more heavy vehicles;
  • around a merging vehicle;
  • in a ‘no overtaking’ zone;
  • on a roundabout;
  • next to a bicycle lane, bus lane or other special purpose lane;
  • next to the kerb or road edge, or alongside parked cars; and
  • on a learners permit.

Northern Territory

In the Northern Territory motorcycle lane filtering is legal:

  • if you hold an unrestricted, full or open motorcycle licence;
  • when travelling 30km/h or less; and
  • it is safe to do so.

It is illegal to lane filter:

  • in school zones, during school zone hours; and
  • next to the kerb or parked vehicles.

Australian Capital Territory

Motorcycle lane filtering is legal in the Australian Capital Territory:

  • for fully licensed motorcyclists;
  • travelling at speeds of up to 30km/h; and
  • when safe to do so.

Is it illegal to lane filter:

  • on the kerbside next to a footpath;
  • in bicycle or breakdown lanes;
  • in any 40km/h speed zone (e.g. school zone, city centres or through roadworks); and
  • past heavy vehicles or buses.

To find out more about the laws for motorcycles please check your local state or territory government transport department website.

How motorcyclists can stay safe on the road

Shine's safety tips

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Know your skills
Know your limits as a rider and remember the road rules so you can enjoy your trip. Refresh and further develop your skills through online training facilities, safe riding courses and group rides.
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Always be alert
Riding a motorcycle is more physically and mentally demanding than driving; riders need to have their full attenion on the road and their surroundings. Take regular rest stops (especially on long journeys) to keep yourself fully alert.
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Check your bike
Always check your bike before you set off, especially if it's been a while since your last ride. Check that all of your lights are working (including headlights, tail light, brake light and indicators) and give the horn a quick test before setting off. Make sure the brakes, steering and suspension are all in working order.
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Increase your visibility
Motorcycles fit all too easily into a car or truck's blind spot, making you invisible. Maintain a safe distance and assume that vehicles around you can't see you; anticipating their likely actions. You can also increase your visibility as much as possible by wearing a fluorescent vest, brightly coloured clothing or reflective strips.
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Stay sober
Never drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Not only does it impair your senses, it puts your life and the life of every other road user in danger.

Shine Lawyers - we're here to help

If you or a loved one have been injured in a motorcycle accident you may be entitled to compensation.

Our team of motorcycle accident claim experts can help you to understand your rights and access your full entitlements on a no win, no fee basis.

You may also be eligible to access benefits through your superannuation; our advice will be tailored to your situation to help you seek the best outcome.

To get started, use our free claim checker below or speak to one of our experts over the phone.

Written by Shine Lawyers. Last modified: March 18, 2022.

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