I had an interesting experience riding my bike the other day. And by interesting, I mean stressful, annoying and generally pissing from a great height on my impression of the human race. I was approaching a red light at an intersection. There were a few cars already stopped at the lights so, as I sometimes do, I rode around them to the head of the pack. Most countries call this move “filtering” or “lane splitting” – simply put it’s the process of riding a motorbike through stationary or slowly-moving traffic by riding in the spaces between the cars.
Usually this happens with little or no fanfare. I move up, the lights go green, and off I go. But this time it was a little different. The driver in the centre lane next to me let rip with his horn. And his mouth. And his middle finger. His complaint was something along the lines of me being a “queue jumper” and thinking that I “own the road”. Arse.
Anyway, back to the point. Having studied up, I told him that “under section 140 of the Australian road rules, motorbikes are allowed to move through stationary traffic”. Sounds great, yeah? Yeah. Except there’s one little problem; I lied. Ish. See, the rules are so vague as to be pretty much useless when it comes to motorbikes and filtering.
The net effect is that filtering in Australia is neither legal nor illegal. I have filtered right past police in stationary traffic and they don’t seem to raise an eyebrow, but I must admit if I do see them first I usually will pull up behind them and not pass just to be sure.
So where do you all stand on this? What’s the go in your country or state? Is it illegal or legal? And do you or should you care? In short, do you filter?