DON'T be surprised if you see a motorcyclist pulling up between your car and the next at a red light - it's legal now.
A number of changes to road rules affecting motorcycle riders in Queensland came into effect this month.
The changes - proposed in the Motorcycle Discussion Paper: Road Rules for Motorcycle Riders - relate to lane filtering, motorcycle control and motorcycle helmets.
While motorcyclists have often moved through cars during a traffic jam - or lane filtering as it's known - it has always in fact been illegal, until now.
Previously a motorcyclist could be slapped with a $91 fine for failing to stay within their marked lane, although the practice was rarely policed.
Pro Motorcycles at Kunda Park owner Paul Peterson said the changes had brought solid clarification to what had often been a grey area in road rules.
"It's a great thing these changes have come into play," he said.
"It's something motorcyclists have always done anyway, and you can do it in most countries in the world, because one of its biggest benefits is it reduces congestion.
"There were so many unknown grey areas before so this really clears things up."
While motorcyclists can now legally scoot to the front of the traffic jam and also use emergency stopping lanes either side of banked up cars to get ahead, the changes do come with some restrictions.
The new allowances apply to riders with an open licence (R and RE) and they cannot travel any faster than 30kmh.
New offences for lane filtering or riding on a shoulder incorrectly have been introduced, with an on-the-spot fine of $341 and three demerit points.
There is a maximum penalty of $2277 if the matter goes before a court.
Sunshine Coast Road Policing Unit officer in charge Michael Warren welcomed the changes but warned riders that common sense still applied.
"The advantages are it does ease traffic congestion and allows motorcyclists to move away from that congestion, but the riders who are going to avail themselves to lane filtering must also be mindful of their safety," Acting Senior Sergeant Warren said.
"They need to be hyper-vigilant because just because they are doing the right thing and lane filtering currently, cars may still not expect them to be there and suddenly they could find themselves in the path of a car."
Motorcyclist and bike sales
man Shane Grills also welcomed the changes, not just to ease traffic congestion but to allow riders to confidently get out of the way of sometimes aggressive motorists.
"The biggest danger that motorcyclists face is being rear-ended because when a car moves forward the end of the motorbike disappears into the colour of the traffic in front of them," he said.
"So it's great for us to know that we can stop in the midst of traffic without it being illegal."
Sunshine Coast Motorcycle School instructor Tanya Price said lane filtering was always a difficult topic to explain to learner drivers.
She never recommended learners attempt the manoeuvre and the new laws supported that.
"You need the skills and experience to do lane filtering," Ms Price said.
"You need to be good at slow riding and have that sixth sense to interpret where a car is going to go and that takes a lot of hours to develop.
"Bike riders are vulnerable sitting in traffic, rear-enders are common.
"Some car drivers don't realise it is actually legal for us to do it now and will still try to cut you off."
- Riders with an open motorcycle licence (including RE and R open licence holders) are now allowed to safely move between stationary or slow-moving vehicles travelling in the same direction as the rider up to 30kmh.
- Motorcycle riders are prohibited from lane filtering in school zones during school zone hours.
- On major roads where the speed limit is at least 90kmh, riders who hold an open licence may ride past stationary or slow-moving traffic at up to 30kmh on the road shoulder or in an emergency stopping lane.
- Motorcycle riders are now allowed to enter bicycle storage areas (the areas of road close to an intersection with traffic lights that allows cyclists to wait in front of vehicles stopped at the intersection, and usually painted green with white bicycle symbols).
- The range of motorcycle helmets approved for use in Queensland has been expanded.
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