Centre for Road Safety

First for Australia

As part of an Australian-first trial in Sydney, motorcyclists were allowed to lane filter between stationary vehicles at intersections from 1 March to 30 April 2013. The trial in the northern part of the Sydney CBD used a range of methods including video to monitor lane filtering behaviour and explored whether traffic flow improved – without jeopardising road safety.

A working group with representatives from the NSW Police Force and motorcycling safety groups guided the development of the trial. All other road users were subject to the usual road rules, which included being mindful of motorcycles on the road. This meant checking twice for motorcyclists when pulling out or changing lanes.

The NSW Police Force CBD Motorcycle Response Team policed the trial area to ensure all motorists followed the road rules.

Lane filtering trial area

The lane filtering trial was confined to an area of the Sydney CBD bounded by Sussex Street, Market Street, St James Road, Macquarie Street, Alfred Street and Hickson Road. Motorcyclists were not allowed to lane filter on the Cahill Expressway, Western Distributor and Bradfield Highway (Sydney Harbour Bridge). The trial excluded bridges, tunnels and approaches.

Conditions of trial

  • Motorcyclists were not allowed to travel through moving traffic (lane splitting)
  • Riders were not allowed to overtake to the left of a vehicle in the left-hand lane
  • When traffic was queued at intersections, riders had to stop at the intersection behind the stop-line
  • Riders were not allowed to filter in ‘bus only’ lanes

Caution recommended

Motorcycle riders were also asked to take extra care when lane filtering, especially when:

  • In turning lanes
  • Near buses, trucks, cyclists and pedestrians
  • Adjacent to parked vehicles
  • Moving from traffic lights
  • Merging back into traffic adjacent to other vehicles

Road rules exemption

To allow motorcycle riders to filter within the trial area for the trial period, they were exempt from the following road rules:

  • Drivers/riders on a multi-lane road must travel entirely within a single lane (rule 146a)
  • Drivers/riders must travel within a single line of traffic on a road without marked lanes (rule 146b)
  • Drivers/riders on a multi-lane road must not move from one marked lane into another marked lane by crossing a continuous line separating the lanes (rule 147)

Trial results

Summary of trial results (PDF 986kB) contains details of the 2013 lane filtering trial.