MCN & Gavin Grewal explain some of the scenarios and what they mean from a legal perspective.
As a road tester I’m very lucky to be able to ride motorcycles on quiet roads with no traffic and we do that deliberately to keep us safe but most of us don’t have that luxury.
So what if you’re out and about and you’re surrounded in this kind of hostile environment and something goes wrong? Let me show you a few of the things that we look out for
Mixing it with other traffic is precarious because you simply don’t know what they’re going to do so I always filter. In my mind if you’re sat behind a car or behind a lorry they can do anything you’re just exposed to danger whereas if you ride on the front foot you’re in control of your own destiny.
As well as the perils of traffic there’s also speed cameras and average speed cameras. That’s the good thing of a bike with cruise control just whack it on and don’t stray over the limit.
Talking of controls on the bike this Triumph Speed Triple RR has got every bell and whistle known to man. It’s got electronic rider aids, it’s got cruise control, a quick shifter and it’s got a fancy dash. Obviously all of those systems are fallible.
I mean these are just a few of the things that can catch you out and as you know there’s just loads and loads more so where’d you stand legally if you’re in that position well let’s go and speak to the expert. I’m here with Gavin Grewal, rider and solicitor with White Dalton Motorcycles Solicitors.
We’ve been out riding on busy roads – it isn’t the most pleasurable thing to do, you want to be out riding on a nice country road but it’s a necessary evil sometimes and when it is busy one of the big questions I suppose most riders have got is when it comes to filtering are you actually allowed to do it, is it legal, should you do it to the people you’re overtaking. Where do we stand.
Well the short answer is perfectly legal okay in fact it’s one of the joys of biking.
But not legal in some countries?
That’s an added confusion absolutely. When I talk about being a solicitor in England and Wales I talk about the law here and filtering is legal and one of the joys of biking. We get wet when it rains, we get cold in the winter but we can pass traffic.
Now that doesn’t always mean that car drivers know the law and I’ve dealt with cases where a car driver’s takes umbridge at being overtaken by a biker filtering so the short answer is perfectly legal.
Where should you do it now that’s probably the real question because this is shared space. We’ve got busier roads than ever before, we’ve got more traffic than ever before and there’s more of an appeal for bikers to filter so I guess it comes down to when you do it do it properly – lawfully & legally. So we already know you can do it whether it’s smart to always do it is one of the issues.
Generally when it comes to junctions or there’s a chance that you might come into conflict with another road user just roll off the throttle. Do you need to put the overtake or filter in there.
Equally with car drivers that actually try and block you and stop you filtering they might not know that it’s perfectly legal and probably the best course of action will be just roll off the throttle. You know the overtake will be there soon enough if you’re on a bike and you know and put it in place lawfully.
We do occasionally deal with road rage cases. I’ve dealt with cases with car drivers brake checking bikers because they got overtaken and you know they weren’t happy. Again it’s shared space and really take care of yourself as a biker even if the car driver is wrong you know he’s pulled out in front of you just roll off the throttle you know you’ll have the overtake soon enough that’s probably the best best
I suppose as well on motorways when it’s quite sticky traffic you stop being filtering and start being undertaking you’ve got to take that view haven’t you.
I’ve ridden in today on the M25 so four lanes of chock-a-block traffic. Now the answer is it’s not written anywhere, there is no black and white answer. I think every biker will find their own sort of comfort zone.
To give you an example, up to 40 50 if you’re filtering past traffic you know just five ten miles per hour above them it’s probably absolutely fine. Personally when it gets to above 50 and you’re passing traffic it starts feeling a little bit hairy exactly. Now it’s a fine line there as to where it becomes careless riding as opposed to just lawful filtering.
We’ve spoken about dash cams already you know so you’ve got to have one eye on the fact that there might be a vehicle there that you’ve
undertaken which might look like a perfectly legal filtering maneuver but if it’s done at speed or if it’s done in close proximity to other cars and you’re really zipping up the inside it might fall on the wrong side of the law.
I was riding the other day in town and coming up to a crossing with red traffic lights and I’ve filtered through the middle of the road to the front of the queue and under my wheels is a zigzag yeah so was I in the wrong then?
The crocodile’s teeth, you’ve got to be careful because they can snap you now. You can filter up there no problem at all what you can’t be doing is overtaking the lead car, if you do that you commit an offense. So to filter up is absolutely fine.
The idea behind them is really pedestrian safety you know that’s why you have them at pedestrian crossings. Pedestrians, you know what they’re like especially in London, they’ll walk through traffic not necessarily on the crossing. So absolutely fine to ride up but when you get to the lead car just hold back, you know you’ll clear the crossing.
The other thing you encounter on busy roads are the speed cameras. On our ride we went through a 60mph average speed camera. If I’d have gone through at 90 and got the summons have I just got to take that on the chin once I say it’s me?
The first thing is identity you know so what what you get is a dreaded letter through the letterbox asking you to please identify the rider now on the basis you do that are you guilty of the offense? Well a lot of it comes down to what you recollect, you know if you did go through it at 90 and they’ve said you’re doing 90, well it’s pretty open and shut
I mean you’ve always got the ability to test the evidence and what I mean by that is you know what device captured you and if it was on a Motorway was it one of the HADECS 3 cameras, was it calibrated? Is it a home office approved device so there’s things to look at if you want to but more often than not if you know that you’ve done it and you’re offered something like a speed awareness course it might be the lesser of all the evils to accept that.
I have to say in this day and age where we look at cases involving speeding more often than not it’s above board or everything’s in order as it should be and there’s loads more speed cameras now, motorways are absolutely littered with them and if you look at smart motorways or all-lane running motorways it’s what they rely on to monitor traffic.
There is a advantage to this as well you’ve got now the smart gantries you know so they will tell you about something that’s in the carriageway up ahead so it’s not all bad just looking at the speed cameras. As a biker you know if there’s debris in lane three and they put a sign up saying debris on the carriageway well brilliant I would want to know about that.
The bike we were riding earlier was a Triumph Speed Triple RR, a beautiful bike full of technology and I know a lot of comments we get online when we test these bikes about the technology can it go wrong? I mean it very rarely does in all my years of road testing it hasn’t but what if my cruise control would have been stuck on?
I was talking to a biker with a Multistrada and you know this thing’s got radar guided cruise control so technology has developed in leaps and bounds and more often than not it works as it should.
I’ve dealt with a number of cases where things have gone wrong. You talk about cruise control I had a biker who said actually the cruise control got stuck on and he’s had to drop the bike and slide so things do go wrong. It comes down to evidence so if you as a biker say that’s gone wrong on my machine what do you need to do? Get hold of the machine don’t let it go anywhere. Recover it to your own place of free storage and the important part is we look at the defect.
Defects are not always obvious so I dealt with a case involving a gearbox that’s seized now. You wouldn’t know that until the sealed gearbox was opened up and we could see that the teeth were in pieces at the bottom. So get the evidence. Bike things do go wrong thankfully for us it’s rare but if it does happen get that evidence because it needs to be looked.
I think the big thing for me is the filtering thing you are allowed to do it but just be sensible about it.