Lane splitting, lane sharing, lane filtering, shoulder surfing... there are as many laws as there are possible maneuvers and keeping track of everything can be a bit dizzying. Especially since the laws greatly vary from state to state. Worry not, we’re here to (try and) keep up on them and let you know where you can do what. We updated the map with the latest information about that so let's have a closer look.
Over the past few years, there have been loads of bills introduced to legalize lane splitting and filtering. Some have passed, some have died, and some are still undergoing committee consideration.
There are many states that do not have written laws explicitly forbidding lane-splitting but the maneuver is not quite specifically legal either. It is up to the discretion of every police officer you pass whether they are letting you get away with it or they are having a bad day. Here's a handy graphic for you.
Keep in mind that while these particular riding techniques may be legal where you’re riding, you’re never under any obligation to perform them. It’s just an available option should you decide to proceed.
- RED States: Lane splitting and filtering are specifically illegal.
- ORANGE States: A bill to legalize lane splitting or filtering is being considered but the practice remains specifically illegal.
- YELLOW States: Lane filtering or shoulder surfing are legal.
- GREEN State: Lane splitting is specifically legal.
- GREY States: Lane splitting is not specifically illegal, but neither is it legal. It is up to the discretion of local law enforcement.
All that said, let’s roll out exactly what’s going on where:
As of September 24, 2022, lane filtering by motorbikes (not trikes, sidecars, or other three-wheeled vehicles) is currently legal under specific circumstances. What are those circumstances? Both the motorbikes and the surrounding traffic must be traveling at speeds of 15 miles per hour or less.
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, making California 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.
The Hawaiian islands 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.
On February 6, 2023, House Bill 1046, which would allow lane filtering under specific circumstances if signed into law, was introduced in the state legislature. The text also specifically states that it is in no way meant to endorse the practice of lane splitting.
On March 3, 2021, Montana governor Greg Gianforte officially signed SB9, titled “An act providing for motorcycle lane filtering,” into state law. Under law, riders of two-wheeled motorcycles in Montana may now lane filter on roads with lanes wide enough to pass safely, not to exceed speeds of 20 mph when overtaking slowed or stopped vehicles.
By Montana’s definition, lane filtering consists of the act of overtaking and passing other vehicles that are either stopped or traveling at 10 mph or under in the same direction of travel, and in the same lane of traffic.
As of October 1, 2021, lane filtering is legal within the state of Montana.
On May 26, 2021, Oregon governor Kate Brown officially vetoed bipartisan bill SB 574, which would have legalized lane filtering under specific circumstances within the state. It currently remains illegal in the state as of March 2023.
However, on March 2, 2023, the Oregon Legislative Assembly's Senate Committee on Judiciary held a public hearing regarding Senate Bill 422, which once again seeks to legalize lane filtering in the state of Oregon. As of March 13, 2022, this bill's next scheduled activity is a working session in that committee later this month.
In February, 2023, Tennessee state legislators introduced HB 1454 and SB 0298 in the General Assembly, which would permit lane filtering in certain circumstances when traffic is moving at a speed of 25 miles per hour or less. The Senate version of the bill is on the Transportation and Safety Subcommittee calendar for discussion on March 8, 2023. At the time of writing, there has been no movement on the house version of this bill.
In March of 2019, Utah legalized filtering becoming the second state after California to formally rule on a motorcycle-specific maneuver. Lane filtering is not as permissive as lane splitting but can help motorcyclists avoid being tailgated.
In January 2020, Representative Tony Wilt submitted House Bill 1236 to amend the Code of Virginia and allow motorcyclists to lane split in the state. The bill was referred to the Committee on Transportation, and did not go any further.
Other bills have been introduced in the state's past, including the most recent attempt in January, 2022, co-sponsored by state representatives Tony Wilt and Kathy Tran. House Bill 838 would have, if enacted as written, allowed for lane filtering for motorcycles if "overtaking and passing another vehicle that is stopped or traveling at a speed not in excess of 10 miles per hour in the same direction of travel and in the same lane."
It was referred to the Committee on Transportation, where the bill later died in February of that same year. No further similar action has been taken as of February, 2023.
Although several attempts have been made to legalize lane splitting in the Evergreen State, as of February, 2023, none of them has succeeded.
Honorable Mention: Colorado
If you're reading this anywhere close to February, 2023, residents of the Centennial State may be interested to know that a house bill was introduced in the current state legislative session to fund a feasibility study regarding the ins and outs of lane splitting within the state. If it's passed and funded, it would be conducted by the Colorado Department of Transportation and the Colorado State Patrol.
If you live in Colorado and you're interested in seeing this bill pass, reach out to your state legislators and encourage other residents to do the same.