A motorbike cutting between lanes of slow-moving traffic may be familiar to WA motorists, but the practice, until now, was illegal.
WA this month joined the rest of the nation in allowing motorcyclists to ‘lane filter’ – ride between two lanes of stationary or slow-moving traffic – at speeds of up to 30km/h.
Motorcycle Riders Association of WA (MRAWA) president Jeffrey Thomas says his members have been pushing for the change for more than a decade.
“A lot of people are saying ‘It’s about time … now I know what I can do, I feel comfortable.’ I lane filtered myself for the first time last weekend,” Mr Thomas said.
Lane filtering was never banned outright in WA, but motorcyclists could be fined for overtaking on the left or crossing a solid white line.
“It was very much a grey area,” Mr Thomas said. “It was never legal.”
A Road Safety Commission spokesperson said that the new laws would provide clarity for all road users.
“[They] are designed to increase safety for motorcycle riders as well as increase awareness by other road users of motorcyclists’ lane filtering,” they said.
In 2019, 32 motorcyclists died on WA roads – accounting for 20% of road fatalities even though motorbikes are only 6% of vehicles.
The new laws ban lane filtering around heavy vehicles, but MRAWA is pushing for changes that will allow motorcyclists to ride between a car and a heavy vehicle.
“If the car’s a Hyundai i20, you could go through sideways. That will be our next [aim],” Mr Thomas said.
“People are upset about not being able to go between two heavy vehicles, but we’re not going to support that at all.
“That’s going back into dangerous territory.”
The Road Safety Commission said lane filtering beside any heavy vehicles is unsafe but it would continue to consult with MRAWA on the issue.
Lane filtering is also banned in school zones, on roundabouts, and for learner riders.
The penalty for breaching the new laws is a $100 fine and two demerit points.