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SA motorcycle riders to be allowed to "lane filter"

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South Australia’s road rules will change next month to allow motorcyle riders to “lane filter” – ride between stopped or slow-moving cars.

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Motorcyclists have argued that the practice increases safety and reduces congestion, but the RAA has previously warned that it could pose dangers, particularly to pedestrians.

South Australian road rules do not explicitly prohibit the practise, but it is difficult to perform without breaching related prohibitions, such as changing lanes without indicating.

Road Safety Minister Peter Malinauskas announced today that the practice would be legal from April 15 this year, following changes to road rules intended to align SA laws with other states.

He said the rules would allow lane filtering at at speed of no greater than 30km/h, which could reduce the risk of a rider being hit from behind by an inattentive driver.

Malinauskas said in a statement this morning that motorcyclists were “vulnerable road users” and that: “Through engagement with motorbike bodies we identified that motorcyclists feel the chance of being ‘rear-ended’ by distracted drivers reduces when riders are able move to the front of traffic.”

“This law removes ambiguity and will align South Australia with the lane filtering laws in several other States.

“I encourage all road users to familiarise themselves with lane filtering laws, along with the suite of changes to road rule regulations that come into effect on 15 April.”

The new law imposes several conditions, in addition to the 30 km/h speed restriction, on motorcyclists while lane filtering:

  • Lane filtering will only be permitted “when it is safe to do so”.
  • Only riders holding a full licence or R-Date licence are permitted to lane filter
  • Provisional and learner drivers are prohibited from the practise.
  • Lane filtering is not permitted in school zones or on crossings, next to parked cars, between vehicles and the kerb, or on roundabouts.
  • Lane filtering is not permitted in bicycle, bus or tram lanes.

President of the Motor Cycle Riders Association Phil McClelland said he welcomed the change.

“This is the culmination of a lot of hard work over many years by many groups and individuals.”

McClelland told InDaily in 2015 that “lane filtering” had been trialled successfully and implemented in other states and that it would improve safety for cyclists.

However, RAA senior legal advisor Graeme O’Dea said at the time that, rather than improving safety for road users, it would cause greater risks, especially for pedestrians.

“Pedestrians are legally entitled to cross the road as long as they’re not within 20 metres of a pedestrian crossing,” he said.

“Pedestrians see two lines of cars stationary, waiting for lights to change … and they will move across legally, and suddenly, in the middle of the road, between the two lanes of traffic, illegally, is a motorcycle.”

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