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Safe filtering multilane carriageways

A multilane carriageway at least removes some of the dangers that you face with single lane roads. For a start every vehicle is going the same direction so you're unlikely to meet another vehicle coming towards you. But because multilane roads are usually busier and faster moving, when there is a problem things tend to go wrong at an alarming speed.

By far the biggest danger on a multilane road is running into the vehicle in front or being hit from behind so it's crucial that you don't tailgate. If the traffic suddenly stops, you need enough time to plan where you're going to put the bike as well as braking in a controlled way. Once the traffic has slowed, it's time to start filtering.

In simple terms filtering is an overtaking manoeuvre and in most cases overtaking is perfectly legal provided:

  1. You don't cross a solid centre white line.
  2. You don't overtake after a 'No overtaking' sign.
  3. You don't overtake on the zigzags of a pedestrian crossing.
  4. No danger is caused to other road users and no vehicle is caused to alter course or speed.

Following the above rules should keep you on the right side of the law but it doesn't mean you're blameless if you have an accident. Providing you're not prosecuted for dangerous or careless driving you¹re unlikely to suffer a police prosecution but you could still be facing a civil action.

With that in mind it's a good idea to apply a few rules to your filtering.

  1. Slow down. You¹re making progress, it¹s enough.
  2. On a motorway only overtake between lanes two and three.
  3. Keep your headlight on dipped beam.
  4. Watch for doors opening and front wheels turning.
  5. Keep checking your mirrors for other motorcycles, especially when swapping lanes.