New South Wales has become the first Australian state to allow motorcyclists to filter past traffic on multi-lane roads.

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NSW transport minister Duncan Gay told reporters the decision to permit ‘lane splitting’ was intended to reduce congestion on the state’s roads and improve safety for motorcyclists.

“We held a successful trial in Sydney CBD last year of motorcyclists being exempt from existing lane filtering laws in an attempt to ease road congestion and measure potential safety issues for other road users,” Gay said, as reported by ABC News.

“As a result of the trial we will introduce a new law that will permit fully licensed motorcyclists to legally filter past stationary vehicles at intersections when it is safe to do so.”

Motorcyclists will be permitted to filter at speeds up to 30km/h. Riders will still be banned from filtering around buses and trucks, travelling to the left of cars in kerbside and breakdown lanes, and filtering in school zones during hours of operation where pedestrian activity is often increased.

Gay explained a new rule would be created banning riders from lane filtering above 30km/h.

“Filtering at high speeds is dangerous and will increase the crash risk for motorcycle riders and other roads users, particularly cyclists and pedestrians,” he said.

Gay said the rule changes gave the government the opportunity to communicate with riders to help them better understand the risks involved with lane filtering and educate them on safe filtering techniques.

Motorcycle Council of NSW spokesman Christopher Burns said the Transport Minister should be “applauded for this common sense move to legalise lane filtering”.

“There are multiple benefits from lane filtering including reducing the risk of riders being caught up in a rear-end collision by removing them from the danger zone,” Burns said.

“Rear enders are the most common collision in NSW and can result in a rider being severely injured.

“Lane filtering has been common practice for motorcycle riders across the country and overseas for decades. The benefits of lane filtering have been internationally recognised as a solution to traffic congestion in built-up areas and will assist in relieving congestion issues on NSW’s major and minor routes, thereby assisting drivers with their daily commutes.”