Why smart filtering is a must for bikers

It’s one of the joys of motorcycling; when cars are stuck in slow or stationary traffic, a biker can carry on riding.

But such privileges come with risks. Filtering along the outside of traffic places you in the path of oncoming vehicles, the risk of cars turning right or doing U-turns, and traffic exiting side roads into your path.


Here’s a guide to keep safe when filtering:

Mind long queues

If the line of stationary or slow moving traffic stretches for miles, then consider re-joining the line occasionally and taking a rest; filtering requires very high levels of concentration; if you get tired and lose concentration then a momentary lapse could have serious consequences.

Watch your speed

Going too fast when filtering will increase the likelihood of an accident and reduce your reaction speed and lengthen your braking distance. The recommended and safe speed to stick to is no more than between 10 and 15 miles an hour faster than the traffic you are passing.

The accepted wisdom among safety experts is that slow moving traffic that you can filter alongside safely should be travelling at no more than 20mph. So, a filtering rider should pass them at no more than 10 to 15mph faster than the traffic if speed limits permit.

Surprise surprise

Remember that while you may be concentrating, most of the drivers in the queue will not be and when you go past, it may surprise them. More importantly, many of them might be considering a U-turn to avoid the queue and won’t check before pulling out, even if they should.

Junction peril

One of the most dangerous spots for motorcyclists are junctions, however busy they are. And this is particularly true when you’re filtering. It’s when cars are the most likely to cross your path, whether they are leaving the queue to turn right, or passing through it from a side road.

Great escape

Always have an escape route planned as you filter. That means looking out for spaces in the queue to use should a large vehicle suddenly come the other way, for example around a corner, or another motorcycle overtakes coming the other way.

Mirror, mirror

Look in the mirrors of cars as you drive along, as it’s often possible to see a drivers’ intentions from them. Also, keep an eye on the car wheels ahead of you; drivers preparing to turn right out of a queue or do a U-turn often move their wheels prior to making their move.

Heavy goods

When traffic is moving rather than stationary, try to avoid pulling into a gap in front of an HGV, as these type of vehicles often need much more room to stop in, so you’ll be more at risk – and it may annoy them.

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