The NSW Government has today begun a two-month trial that will allow motorcyclists to 'filter' between stationary vehicles at intersections in the Sydney CBD.
Roads Minister Duncan Gay said the trial, developed by government body Transport for NSW, will test if traffic flow is improved by allowing powered two-wheelers to move to the front of traffic.
The trial will be confined to the areas bordered by Sussex and Market Streets, St James Road, Macquarie and Alfred Streets and Hickson Road. (Click to see map.)
Motorcyclists caught filtering outside this area will face the usual penalties.
"Lane filtering is currently against the law, however there will be an exemption for motorcyclists in this part of the CBD which will permit them to filter through traffic when vehicles are stopped at traffic lights," Mr Gay said in a statement.
"It needs to be tested to ensure it improves traffic flow while not jeopardising road safety."
He said the trial is not about "favouring one user group over another", but rather developing a system that could benefit all road users.
Mr Gay said the initiative comes after long-time campaigning by motorcycle groups for changes to laws around filtering, and in response to the consultation on the NSW Long Term Transport Master Plan.
The NSW Police Force CBD Motorcycle Response Team, recently funded by Transport for NSW, will be policing the trial area to ensure road rules are being followed by all motorists.
South of the border, the Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce said this week it will be watching the trial closely, calling for a similar program in Victoria.
VACC Executive Director David Purchase said that less than one percent of Melbourne commuters rider a motorcycle or scooter to work (Australian Bureau of Statistics), compared to 60 percent travelling by car to work.
"Why be restricted to one area of one city, as they are in Sydney? Victoria accounts for approximately 20 percent of Australia’s new motorcycle sales annually and with 164,778 registered riders in the state, our trial should be across Melbourne, the suburbs and regional centres and on a range of roads," Mr Purchase said.
"Based upon the recent bus lane sharing trial in Hoddle Street, Melbourne, in which motorcycles and scooters were permitted to share the bus lane during peak hour traffic, we are confident a filtering trial would be well-supported by VACC members and riders of powered two-wheeled vehicles."
Transport for NSW will present the findings of the Sydney-based trial in late 2013.