The results of France’s five-year observational lane splitting study released at the beginning of February, 2021, were disappointing, to say the least. French riders were in for even bigger frustration when the nation officially banned the practice following those results. Riders took to the streets in their thousands on February 20 to protest, and it wasn’t clear what would happen next.
However, on February 25, France’s delegation for road safety announced the details of a new observational study regarding lane splitting. It should start in June, 2021, and the new conditions should address some of the biggest issues we found diving into the report on the first study.
For a start, the new study’s goals are to find what conditions are necessary to make lane splitting safe, officially taught as a recognized road behavior, and codified into actual law. Additionally, researchers will observe and record findings across a wider area, with departments covering Ile-de-France, Rhône, Bouches-du-Rhône, Gironde, and Haute-Garonne. In the previous study, Haute-Garonne had served as a control, while the other areas were all part of the initial range studied.
During the course of this new study, road signs will be prominently displayed on roads where lane splitting is authorized for the duration. That’s a major change from the old study, where riders and drivers weren’t explicitly told that such behavior was authorized. Additionally, Road Safety officials plan to better communicate and offer training to riders and drivers about how to incorporate lane splitting safely in everyday road situations.
The full list of modifications included in this new study hasn’t been published yet, but should be released sometime at the beginning of March for review. The exact date that the study will start is unclear, but it’s believed to be sometime in June according to Moto Services. It’s also not clear what the duration of this study will be, since the first one ran for five years before results were published in a formal report. Will this be another five-year experiment, or will the length of time required for study be modified, as well? In any case, hopefully this is good news for French riders.