IN 2015, there were no motorcyclists killed in the cities of Wanneroo and Joondalup.
By the end of 2016, six riders were dead.
The total was among the worst for policing districts in the State, making up nearly one-sixth of the 38 motorcyclist deaths in WA last year.
It is an increase of great concern to Road Safety Commissioner Kim Papalia.
“The spike in the number of motorcycle deaths in 2016 is a tragic consequence of a lack of awareness surrounding motorcyclists on the roads,” he said.
“And in some cases, obvious disregard for the road rules.
“It’s the responsibility of other road users to be aware of their surroundings, check their blind spot to see who is there and concentrate on the road ahead.”
Fatal crashes in Wanneroo (June), Ocean Reef (September), Nowergup (September), Hocking (October), Hillarys (October) and Joondalup (November) made up the six for 2016.
The spate continued into this year with the death of a rider in Heathridge on January 3.
All the victims were males.
With the heightened concern around motorcycle safety, the topic of lane filtering has arisen.
Lane filtering is when motorcyclists ride between vehicles to get to the front of stationary traffic. Riders consider this a safer alternative to waiting behind a car where they are at risk of being struck from behind.
The activity is illegal in WA, but there have been steps towards legalising it after the Government’s Motorcycle Safety Review last year.
Ministerial approval was given to amend the legislation pending consultation and trials.
It is legal in NSW and Queensland.
Mr Papalia agreed it had safety benefits “particularly at intersections, as motorcycles can filter to the front of the queue of stationary traffic”.
“Lane filtering allows motorcyclists to avoid the risk of collision by moving out of the congestion,” he said.
The manoeuvre is often referred to as lane ‘splitting’ but a Road Safety Commission spokeswoman outlined the difference between the two terms.
She said lane splitting was when a motorcycle travelled at more than 30km/h between vehicles, while filtering was when a rider rolled at less than that speed. Lane splitting is illegal in all states.
Mr Papalia reminded motorcyclists of their obligations.
“Motorbike riders need to take the necessary precautions every time they get on their bikes,” he said.
“They need to ride defensively, wear appropriate safety gear, including helmets and protective clothing, and make themselves visible to other road users.”