Filtering and Operation Acer
Recently VicPol conducted a 3-day operation, Operation Acer, targeting motorcycle riders on the freeways.
It is disturbing that 54 lane filtering offences were detected as the feedback we have is that most of these offences were for what we call lane splitting; Riding between lines of traffic at over 30kph.
At the same time since this campaign was partly in response to the public perception that we all frantically lane split at breakneck speed - "well they saw someone do it once so every motorcyclist must do it all the time and they are all mad anyway". Every time there is an incident on the freeway there are still comments in the newspapers and radio stations to the effect that the sky is falling as filtering is legal. Combining this perception and the recent fatality on the Monash, means something like Operation Acer was expected.
To avoid trouble some rules of thumb are:
The VicRoads summary of the lane filtering laws provide more detailed information.
A bit of history...
Filtering / lane sharing / lane splitting as such has never been strictly illegal but triggered unsafe overtaking and lane use offences. Riders were fined for not riding within a single marked lane, not indicating to change lanes, crossing a solid line, unsafe overtaking and possibly all of the above and whatever else they could think of.
Extreme cases potentially attracted a "driving in a manner dangerous" infringement. As is clear by the currently legal 30km/h maximum filtering speed limit, the rules allow us to make progress when the traffic is congested and slow moving. By making filtering at over 30kph illegal, lane splitting is now explicitly illegal. The current filtering laws arose from an election promise made by the Labor Party at the 2014 election. Members of the VMC were involved in the campaign to make filtering legal.
Compromises were made in getting what we got. The 30kph speed limit is considered by some to be too low. We cannot legally cross the stop line (if the light is red) when we filter to the front of traffic. There are no filtering boxes at traffic lights. We cannot filter between the kerb and a line of traffic but can filter between a line of parked cars and a line of traffic. We are not allowed to use bicycle lanes while filtering.
We have to live with what we have and while not perfect for us it's better than what we had. It is not clear that the stars will ever align so we get more. All that said, Victoria is the only state where P plates can legally filter. The City of Melbourne has proposed a trial of filtering boxes and even something as obvious as this is an uphill battle.
The police were fining riders for filtering at over 30kph on the freeways. Given the number of riders caught expect another operation.