Important Filtering Tips for Motorcyclists


This week’s tips are all about how to filter through traffic safely on a motorcycle.

No matter if you’re a new rider who’s nervous about filtering, or an experienced motorcyclists, it’s always good to be reminded of the following key tips:

  • Only filter when the surrounding traffic is moving at less than 20mph, and then only exceed that speed yourself by 10 to 15mph maximum (if safe and legal to do so)
  • Scan for side turnings and entrances to both sides of the road, and try to keep a car door’s width away from the vehicle you are passing
  • Obey all ‘keep left’ bollards and also be aware that temporarily stationary vehicles at traffic lights, pedestrian crossings etc. are not classed as parked for the purposes of solid white lines, and therefore you cannot cross a solid white line to filter
  • Can you see the driver’s face through the window or wing mirrors? Does he look like he’s about to pull out? Always look for evidence that the driver has seen you and comprehends that you are passing them
  • When filtering to the right side, consider using the ‘stepping stone’ method. Whilst you don’t actually have to move into the spaces, consider which one would be suitable
  • If you are filtering between lanes, you need to look out for other motorcycles which could possibly be changing lanes or approaching you from the rear
  • Filtering takes a lot of concentration, so make sure you take short breaks if you’re travelling for a long period of time
  • Ride at a speed that allows you to react to the movement of other road users and always have an escape route planned in your head 
  • Filtering can sometimes come as a surprise to the person driving behind you, so remain courteous by giving a polite wave of the hand to the driver behind
  • Think of the size of the vehicle in front of you. Just because there’s a gap, it doesn’t mean you should move into it. For examples, HGVs will need more space and time to manoeuvre than a car would

One of the biggest advantages of a motorcycle is the ability to make progress through traffic. Despite thoughts to the contrary, it is not illegal and the Highway Code references it in a number of areas.

Staying safe must be your main priority and understanding where planned filtering becomes dangerous overtaking will help with this. The best motorcycling advice ever is just because it fits doesn’t mean you should put it there.”

Richard Gladman is IAM RoadSmart’s head of driving and riding standards

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