Guest Post: Arky on the road

It is now one year since the Victorian government introduced a law on “lane filtering”:

Under the new regulations, riders can filter in Victoria where safe to do so and at no more than 30km/h.

While not explicitly banned, riders who previously filtered were at risk of committing an offence under a number of Victorian Road Safety Road Rules, causing frustration between road users.

The Government introduced the filtering regulations to improve safety for everyone on Victorian roads and encourages all road users to be aware of the new laws.

The Government has consulted with the community on the changes, with a community meeting in June and over 1,000 online survey responses.

Lane splitting – which is weaving between traffic at speeds greater than 30km/h – will remain illegal because of the danger it poses to all road users.
During this past year I personally have watched three motorcyclists crash, including one fatality.

In 2015 28 motorcyclists died on Victorian roads.

So far in 2016, with peak motorcycle season still to commence, 48 motorcyclists have died on the roads.

It would be reasonable to project by years end, this will be roughly a doubling of motorcycle fatalities.

Change in motorcyclist’s behaviour has been abrupt and marked. I drive over 1000 Km per week. Motorcyclists now routinely weave in and out of fast moving traffic on freeways, whereas in the past they kept mainly to the right of the lane they travelled in and used their superior acceleration to get ahead of and out of traffic from the lights.

(It was always a delight to watch a skilled motorcyclist wheelie away at the turn of the green.)

This a good example of how introducing a law has the opposite of the desired effect.
The government and experts probably thought that regulating lane splitting at a safe limit would reduce fatalities.

This is because they view citizens as automatons, and the law as the software to run those automatons.

Whereas citizens are actually humans who make decisions based on a wide range of reasons.

And some of the humans who ride motorcycles do so because they enjoy the perception of increased risk.

(It is unlikely they enjoy the real consequences of actual risk: laying dead on the side of the road.)

They do not view the law as a blueprint for their actions. But they are swayed by the existence of a law. You see, when government, with the backing of academics makes itself out to be expert on a topic, the citizen takes that into account in his decision making.

Motorcyclists now believe that experts have declared lane splitting to be “safe” at up to 30kph.

Motorcyclists, being natural risk takers, make the decision that if lane splitting is “safe” at 30kph, then weaving in and out of traffic at 120kph is roughly in line with their desired risk level.

There is good reason to think that governments are better off not making laws, rather than making laws to regulate behaviour citizens have already figured out fairly well for themselves.

Citizens understand that there is a blurred line of right and wrong, risk and reward. When the government by law draws a line, the citizen, not being autistic, believes they can usually push slightly over that line.

20 people in Victoria this year have found this is not the case, and rather than changing behaviour in response to law, and pushing slightly over the line drawn by government, better to figure things out for themselves.

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34 Responses to Guest Post: Arky on the road

  1. marcus w

    Fair comments Arky although I am not sure as to the effect that lane splitting has had on fatalities or what percentage of those were solely the fault of the rider and to keep in mind a barefoot unhelmeted ,unregistered bogan thrashing his chinese dirtbike around the streets of Thomaslovakia and into an innocent motorist still counts as a motorcycle fatality . I ride push and motor bikes on the road i find the best defense is to assume you are invisible because to most motorists you are .

  2. Up The Workers!

    It is not only motor cyclists who are now allowed to “lane filter” with impunity in Dodgy Dan and the A.L.P.’s Victoriastan; now that Police are prohibited from chasing any criminals, all car-jackers, home invaders, drunk and speeding and dangerous drivers and drug dealers are effectively now also allowed to “lane filter” with impunity.

    Just be thankful that none of Labor’s precious “little maaates” have so far chosen a B-Double truck to do it in.

    But if they did, you can rest assured that an army of bleeding-heart loony Left-wing Labor-appointed Judges and Magistrates will be ready to grant them all multiple instances of overlapping bail and dole until their case eventually comes up to Court.

    If Police are no longer chasing crims in the A.L.P.’s Victoriastan, when do we start saving taxpayers’ cash by selling all their high-powered pursuit cars, and replacing them all with push-bikes or scooters?

  3. Oh come on

    What is it with the cyclist and motorcyclist lobbies? They’re feral. And they hate car users like academic feminists hate men.

  4. notafan

    Seems like they got what they wished for.

  5. marcus w

    And they hate car users like academic feminists hate men.

    I thought using the word “academic” in relation to feminists was academic ….. or at the very least redundant ..

  6. Oh come on

    Nah the feminists working in academia are easily the most noxious of the breed.

  7. Oh come on

    As in the staff teaching the Women’s Studies courses. They’re absolute poison.

  8. chrisl

    I can’t believe “only” 46 motorcyclists have died this year

  9. Zyconoclast

    I can’t believe “only” 46 motorcyclists have died this year

    Dibs on 47.

  10. brennan

    I used to ride all the time. For many years I didn’t even own a car and I used Marcus’ idea from the first post, that I should ride like I’m invisible. I did lane split when the traffic was stationary at lights and tried to be polite to other road users if I ended up between two cars by moving off swiftly so I didn’t delay them.

    Driving home today, I was lane split at speed in ways that scared me by 6 riders. I hope they don’t get killed but I reckon there will be more fatalities, rather than less since the NSW introduced the same rules.

    When I get my bike back on the road, I’ll be following my previous rules, not the current ones. I don’t bounce or heal like I used to.

  11. MickofBrisbane

    The question to be asked is how many of the deaths involved riders legally lane-filtering?

    Completely unrelated is talking about boneheads who’ve decided to weave in and out of high speed traffic:
    “Motorcyclists, being natural risk takers, make the decision that if lane splitting is “safe” at 30kph, then weaving in and out of traffic at 120kph is roughly in line with their desired risk level.”

    There are laws to prevent this as there are for anyone who decides they’re going to go 4 times the posted limit.

  12. H B Bear

    Not sure I agree with the thesis, “You see, when government, with the backing of academics makes itself out to be expert on a topic, the citizen takes that into account in his decision making.” I lane split for the two years I was in Melbourne without incident, as I did in Perth where it is “illegal”.

    What is does show is that there are large numbers of laws on the books that are either not enforced or enforced in an ad hoc fashion. Both encourage people to treat such laws with the same contempt as the enforcement bodies. Meanwhile speed laws are enforced to the letter because they can be done via the low cost/high revenue model of fixed and mobile cameras. In WA at least, these are overwhelmingly in the city despite most deaths being in the country, with large numbers of these being single vehicle crashes due to fatigue or road conditions.

    Motorbikes will always be over-represented in fatalities. A significant proportion will always be single vehicle crashes through speed and loss of control – being elements that make bike riding attractive in the first place. Hopefully other people will not draw the same conclusions you have.

  13. There’s so much more to this and it’s something that was brought to light at this year’s Blessing of the Bikes, which has become an annual event in my township. The problem is recognised, the solution is complex.

  14. thefrolickingmole

    I find it a real lesson to have seen how a largely unregulated traffic system (Vietnam) stacks up against our hyper-rules based one.

    When my fathers wife was being taught to drive in Australia she had a number of near misses due to overestimating peoples ability to think and react to her decision making.
    Its not that she broke rules so much as took actions that werent “textbook” and peoples rules based minds froze.

    Go to Vietnam and its almost entirely reactive driving, you make decisions and rely on others to do the same.

    Neither system is good by itself, Vietnam kills plenty (but Id shudder to think of the paralysis that would strike f they had our system) but Australia requires compliance to a stupid level of trying to put cars on rails.

  15. marcus w

    OCO … I am all for equal rights and wish to treat feminists the same so I advocate inviting them to a bout of fisticuffs …old school so we can help sort out our differences and move on and have a beer next week .

  16. MickofBrisbane

    @ brennan
    #2225620, posted on December 2, 2016 at 5:32 pm
    You’re previous rules included lane filtering, which includes stationery traffic or moving traffic as long as you don’t exceed the 30km/hr limit. Whether traffic is stationery before you filter is your decision.

  17. HGS

    I believe thefrolickingmole is right; too many rules is as bad as none.

    And I don’t even know what filtering, or splitting is.

  18. I believe thefrolickingmole is right; too many rules is as bad as none.

    Correct. It’s a law of diminishing returns. If there’s one rule, everybody knows it. When There’s a million, meh. People stop listening.

  19. Linden

    There is idiot motor cyclist that lane filters down our street, at high speed on a horrendously noisy window vibrating machine, I am patiently waiting for the day when I hear the ‘big splat’ and I sincerely hope that I am the first one ‘on the scene’ because I intend to have a very amusing conversation with him (that is if is still alive). And no I won’t be making a phone call for him either, I just wish!

  20. Linden

    A bit like in Italy, the rules are there are no rules LOL

  21. Bruce in WA

    I ride a bike. Usually with her indoors on the back. We tour, not commute. I have no problem with filtering between stationary vehicles (I’ve almost been rear-ended many times sitting in the queue). In fact, I think we should filter to the head of the traffic in a marked box at the front, and be first off when the lights change.

    Having said all that, I rarely filter, simply because my old girl’s a bit too broad in the beam. (Not the missus, the BMW!)

    But I’ll break any law it takes to make sure we’re in a “safe” position.

    But when I see some of the knobjockeys on their ridiculously overpowered machines, mono-ing up the freeway, passing in the emergency breakdown lane, flying at 60km+ over the limit — no sympathy, I’m afraid. It’s like playing Russian Roulette with a semi-auto …

  22. woolfe

    Have we got to the point yet where it is illegal to die on the roads, surely that will fix the problem? And how many of those 46 were killed whilst splitting?

    So when you are driving on a freeway how many cars in bumper to bumper traffic randomly career into each other?

    I ride a motorbike and I lane split all the time. I am responsible for my own actions and accept the consequences.

    Prior to entering the split i have a good look in my rear view mirror to make sure that i do not turn into a faster motorbike and then generally ride at 10 -20 kph faster than the cages. You keep a very good eye out, any sign of someone turning a head you take care as they may be looking to change lanes. Some drivers even make room for you so I give them a little wave. What may look to cage drones as weaving in and out is generally overtaking and getting into a safe zone. It takes a lot of concentration and not for everyone.

    At lights I always split to the front, my bike can do 140 in first so i generally have not trouble getting ahead of the pack and in a safe zone away from traffic. I try and create a bubble around myself when riding in traffic passing through herds jostling for position doing 1kph faster than each other while i sail through into open spaces.

  23. Chris

    I support the above motorcyclists in their determination to break laws that put them in less safe positions.
    I gave up my motorcycle about 35 years ago after grinding off my corners on a bitumen road.
    Now I cycle and I ride on footpaths, jump lights with the pedestrians, anything to get separation from the cars.
    Many ‘traffic calming’ layouts such as tight roundabouts and brick-paved chicanes force cyclists into the pinch with cars, and I do not participate in road rules like that.
    Andknowing how political/ policy discussions misappropriate the casualty stats over guns, I too question how many fatalities involve the behaviours covered by the law change under discussion.

  24. marcus w

    I ride a motorbike and I lane split all the time. I am responsible for my own actions and accept the consequences.

    Spot on summary . Thank you , you have described the thought pattern I use succinctly. Thanks .

  25. Sydney Boy

    I think every state introduced legal lane splitting laws last year or this year?

    Which of course begs the question – when are we going to have consistent driving laws across all states in Australia? We drive the same cars, with the same people, on the same roads, and with the same traffic signage and signals. Drive with P plates in Victoria at the posted speed limit but banned from towing a trailer – and drive across the border into SA where you can only drive at a maximum of 100km/h even if the posted speed limit is 110km/h; but you can tow the trailer. Oh, and you can’t drive between midnight and 5am in SA on your Ps.

  26. marcus w

    Oh, and you can’t drive between midnight and 5am in SA on your Ps.

    Oh …..renumber those golden days .. ..being awake and driving at 3 am.?? ..

  27. john constantine

    Think of the economic stimulus of all the transplant surgeons that can afford to buy nice things after the ‘head bounce on road’ donorcyclist is delivered to hospital alive enough for spare parts.

    Have to chop up crims like China does without donorcycles.

  28. marcus w

    Oh …..renumber those golden days .. ..being awake and driving at 3 am.?? ..

    Phuck …..qouting myself …sorry all …. realized that I should have said ” remember”” not re number ……. sorry friday night frivolities and beer .

  29. Harold Varner the despicable lurker.

    Army you are are just a grumpy old sea hunt. Give it a rest. I rode bikes before I joined the job, during the job and after the job.
    Still riding in my dotage.
    You hang around with too many social justice worriers.
    And really, who cares what you have to say? Your stories on the open thread are as boring as you being a guest writer here.
    Have a big deep breath and realize that there is a life out there. And keep your keyboard closed so we only think you are an idiot.

  30. Far Right Heretic

    The only reason we are oversaturated with road rules is because we have been invaded by incompetent third world drivers. Asians tend to be terrible at spatial analysis and this obviously carries over into their driving ability. We can repeal the plethora of nanny state road rules when we deport the teeming mass of seemingly short sighted cultural enrichment.

  31. MD

    I know someone who calls motorcycle riders ‘temporary Australians’.

    I watch them every day doing what most car drivers do: not watching the road, not keeping a safe distance from other vehicles, speeding, and not allowing for the all-too-obvious stupidity of ‘many’ of their fellow Australians.

    Another thing they fail to understand is that stereotypes are invariably based on truths.

  32. outsider

    Laws don’t count at all unless there is a strong deterrent effect in the form of police. ‘Filtering’ is common sense in some circumstances (gridlock), and a crazy idea in others (about to move traffic). It requires something no govt allows these days – good judgment. Many modern motorcycles are either bloated ill-handling garbage or Rossi lookalikes for thrill-seeking pea brains. Both kinds are ill-suited to commuting, of the kind seen the developing world over. Once traffic density gets over a certain threshold, bikes become a very bad idea.

    As for fanging off from the lights, it’s an in your face insult to car drivers. I had a cop pull a gun on me one time early on, for doing this. As for monos off the lights, it’s bad form. You never see Marvellous Marc pull a mono except over the last lap start/finish line, because it slows you down. All show, no go.

    We have a saying in motorcycling: there are no accidents. You have to take responsibility for everything that may happen, all of it – this is how you learn road craft and how to read people. Advice to car drivers: treat each motorcyclist exactly as you would another car driver – same room, same distance behind, same behaviour. If one tries to push you around, drive as normal. The road system is a cooperative venture, all need to take responsibility.

    Most MCs are not serious bike riders, and give it away after a year or two of cheap thrills. Serious bike riders went the way of the dodo for several reasons: new general usage bike sales tanked way back last century as cheap cars came along, so very few car drivers were henceforth ex-motorcyclists, making the roads very dangerous, plus so many New Australians simply cannot drive (India and PRC both have road tolls of ~200k each year); bikes became ‘look at me’ luxury status toys and dick substitutes even more so than back in the days of Roy Orbison and Bob Dylan, so many owners rode only on weekends in the dry – to profile up the Cross or wherever; and sports car performance caught up with and went past bikes on ‘give and take’ roads, as the ‘mobile chicanes’ – sloppy old rear drive Falcons/Holdens – gave way to AWD hi-po machines (WRX, Nissan, Audi, VW). My present car is every bit as fast as a high end sports bike and would pull Jesus off the cross. A huge problem for all of us are the soft roader wobblers and testosteroned up crew cab punters, all bought due to the appalling rural roads green govts refuse to fix. Plus ADHD texters/phoners and food eaters, drinkers behind the wheel. It’s a jungle out there these days, with so few high vis cops to look over it, they get dough from cameras so why bother with road safety?

    ‘the humans who ride motorcycles do so because they enjoy the perception of increased risk.’
    Maybe the low T hacks and their dopey chicks on the back, not the real riders though. They love the sport, know the real risks and act accordingly. Vanishing breed, so many lightweights out there.

  33. Tator

    From memory from research done when I was a Road Safety Educator, lane splitting even at speed is not a major factor in motorcycle accidents. Over 40% of accidents involving motorcycles involve other motor vehicles turning right across the motorcyclists path. Around 20% are from motorcyclists being cut off by motorists failing to give way on T junctions when the motor cycle is on the continuing road. So there is the vast majority of motorcycle collisions and lane filtering ( which actually improves safety) and lane splitting are not even anywhere near the top of the list. So as most motorcyclists and cyclists are aware, the biggest danger to them is other road users who just do not look for them. Most of this data is available from the CASR Pink book published every year on national road safety statistics. BTW, CASR do not just rely on police statistics but go out and investigate some of the accidents themselves to obtain further data not available from the police.

  34. Tator

    Outsider, FYI, the police services do not get any of the revenue from traffic cameras as it all goes to general revenue and not hypothecated in the police budget. Plus in many states, the operators of speed cameras are unsworn civilian staff, not sworn police officers.
    As someone who has worked in traffic areas, the current situation in SA is a joke, Traffic enforcement has been restructured over the last 3 years with less traffic enforcement in the metro area and more out in the rural areas which was driven by rural fatalities increasing whilst metro ones decreased. Might have something more to do with the golden hour medical treatment being available 24/7 in the metro area whilst some rural areas are having their medical services cut back by the ALP here.
    Even though fatalities have decreased dramatically, most of that is through one side of the 3 E’s road safety triad, Engineering, which has seen the number of modern vehicles with high safety ratings on our roads compared to many of the 70’s and early 80’s death traps with a minor influence from enforcement and education.
    Some police commissioners also believe that education is also part of the enforcement arm of the triad, with people learning via the hip pocket about road safety laws. But other research shows that road safety breaches are mainly driven by the risk-reward model where people actively weigh up the risk of being caught and fined compared to the time advantage they gain from breaking road laws. So much of this education philosophy is flawed in that regard.

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