The debate over lane-splitting is contentious, to say the least. However, as of March 3, 2021, Montana is the third state in the U.S. to legally recognize lane filtering for motorcycles. Certain conditions must be met to make it so, as is the case with most legislation. If you’re a Montana resident, or you have reason to ride through that state, you now have a new tool in your toolbox.  

Montana SB9 was very simply titled “An act providing for motorcycle lane filtering.” It was co-sponsored by state senator Russ Tempel and state representative Barry Usher, and was introduced in the legislature in December, 2020.  

The entire text of the bill is one page long, with another page reserved for signatures to make it official. It passed both houses and was signed into law by governor Greg Gianforte, as written and unamended. 

The text reads, “An operator of a two-wheeled motorcycle may engage in lane filtering when:  

A) the operator of a two-wheeled motorcycle is on a road with lanes wide enough to pass safely; 

B) the overtaking motorcycle is not operated at a speed in excess of 20 miles an hour when overtaking the stopped or slow-moving vehicle; and 

C) conditions permit continued reasonable and prudent operation of the motorcycle while lane filtering.” 

It goes on to specify that it defines “lane filtering” as “the act of overtaking and passing another vehicle that is stopped or traveling at a speed not in excess of 10 miles an hour in the same direction of travel and in the same lane.”  

It’s simple, it’s straightforward, and it goes into effect on October 1, 2021. So, if you’re planning to ride through Montana in between March and October, you may want to hold off on lane splitting on your summer trips.  

Montana now joins California and Utah in legally recognizing the practice of some form of lane splitting. Here’s hoping it isn’t only those three for much longer. 

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