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.