Your run-down on what's up with lane splitting and filtering.
Friends, the lane splitting, lane-sharing, filtering, shoulder-surfing revolution may be upon us. While laws vary from state to state, we’re here to keep up on them and let you know where you can do what. Note that even though these particular riding techniques may be legal where you’re riding, you’re never under any obligation to do so. It’s just one more option for you.
Here we are in 2019 and if you’ve been following these stories here at RideApart, you’ll know there have been loads of bills introduced in the past few years to legalize splitting and filtering. Some have passed and some have died, while some are still undergoing committee consideration.
There are many states which do not have laws on the books explicitly forbidding lane-splitting, but it is not quite specifically legal either, so it is up to the discretion of every police officer you pass whether they think you are operating in a safe manner or they are having a bad day. Here's a handy graphic for you.
- RED States: Lane splitting and filtering are specifically illegal
- PINK States: A form of lane splitting law is or has been up for discussion, but the practice remains specifically illegal
- BEIGE States: Lane splitting is not specifically illegal, but neither is it legal, so it is up to the discretion of surrounding traffic enforcement
- YELLOW States: Some form of filtering or splitting is legal; see below
- GREEN State: Lane splitting is specifically legal
All that said, let’s roll out exactly what’s going on where:
This forward-thinking state has allowed motorcycles to lane-split for some time by dint of a vague “it’s not illegal” stance. In 2016, lane-splitting was made explicitly legal, and it is currently the only state to allow it to such an extent. Yay, riding in California! Try it when you’re there; it works and it’s magical.
House Bill 2314 is currently in the state’s Joint Transportation Committee. The proposition to make lane splitting legal there is in discussion. If it is approved, motorcycles would be able to travel between cars on roadways where the speed limit is 50mph or greater, and traffic is moving at 10mph or slower. If you live in Oregon and you support this, do contact your legislators and let them know.
Maryland legislators are also sitting on, I mean, definitely excitedly discussing, House Bill 917 that would allow lane-splitting and filtering for motorcycles. The bill has been introduced but it’s not currently going anywhere. If you live in Maryland now is the time to make your pro-splitting voice heard.
Lawmakers in the Nutmeg State are actively considering (or ignoring, depending on their stance) Senate Bill 629 which, if passed, would make lane splitting and filtering explicitly legal. The bill has been introduced but there’s been no movement since.
The Hawaiian islands recently made “shoulder surfing” legal for motorcyclists. Due to Hawaii’s narrow roads, lane splitting and filtering are often not an option, but motorcyclists are now permitted to ride the shoulder of the road when there is congestion.
Senate Bill 1007 was introduced to Arizona legislators, and that bill would have made lane splitting or “motorcycle operation; riding between lanes” legal in that state. Alas, the bill has died in committee and nobody has resurrected it. If you live in Arizona, perhaps you could take up the mantle, or at least call your lawmakers.
The west coast state introduced a bill to legalize lane splitting in 2015, but it died on the floor. This past January, lawmakers reintroduced it as Senate Bill 5254 and it’s currently hanging around until someone brings it up at a future session. If you live in Washington get on the phone.
The lane splitting bill AB236 was introduced in 2013, passed in the assembly with overwhelming support and was then voted down in a landslide by the full state Senate. It hasn't been reintroduced since, but there's no time like the present, right?
Honorable mention goes to the Canadian city of Toronto, where filtering throughout the city, as well as allowing motorcycles to “use reserved lanes” in some specific areas of the city, is all up for discussion with City Council Agenda Item MM43.53. This agenda item also includes a discussion about dedicated motorcycle parking zones, and of course how to enforce that, and the tax revenue that might be generated from the ticketing. Cheers, Toronto; keep up the investigation!