On April 4, 2024, Colorado governor Jared Polis officially signed motorcycle lane filtering and passing into the state's law. The law goes into effect on August 7, 2024, so mark your calendars.

SB 24-079, which was sponsored by state senators Nick Hinrichsen and Jim Smallwood and state representatives Javier Mabrey and Ron Weinberg, now makes it legal for two-wheeled motorcycles (not trikes or sidecars, in other words) to overtake or pass another vehicle in the same lane as long as certain criteria are met.

Under the new law, the following conditions have to be met for lane filtering to be permissible:

  • The motor vehicle to be passed is stopped
  • Motor vehicles in adjacent lanes that are in the same direction of travel as the motorcycle are also stopped
  • The rider (the bill says "driver") of the motorcycle is on a road with lanes that are wide enough to allow safe passing
  • The motorcycle can only pass at a speed of 15 miles per hour or less
  • "Conditions permit prudent operation of the motorcycle while overtaking or passing."
  • If the motor vehicles to be passed start moving, the motorcycle shall cease overtaking and/or passing those vehicles.

Some other conditions about motorcycle behaviors that are not allowed apply, as well:

  • Riders cannot overtake on the right shoulder
  • Riders also cannot overtake to the right of any vehicle in the farthest right-hand lane if a highway is not limited-access
  • Riders may also not pass in a lane of traffic that is moving in the opposite direction
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Colorado's New Lane Filtering Law Is Only Temporary For The Moment

This is a really important thing to note, because this new law is intended to help the Colorado Department of Transportation gather safety data to prove whether lane filtering is, in fact, a safe and viable permanent law change that needs to be brought into effect in the state.

As it's currently written, this new law will be repealed effective September 1, 2027. From the time you're reading this until that time, it will be legal to filter as long as riders adhere to the criteria above. During that time, CDOT will be collecting data to analyze how it's working for drivers and riders, and whether any changes need to be implemented. 

Among the specifics that CDOT will be analyzing are the following:

  • Motorcycle rear-end collisions, both before and after the date that lane filtering is temporarily made legal in the state
  • The comparative severity of motorcycle rear-end collisions in heavy traffic before and after the effective date of this law
  • Motorcycle side-swipe collisions while overtaking and/or passing at a rate of 15 miles per hour or less before and after the effective date of this law

It is everyone's hope that implementation of this law will mean fewer rear-end collisions involving motorcyclists, serious or otherwise. As for the side-swipes, riders don't generally want those, either (law or no law). Here's hoping the data supports a permanent adoption of this law and that it stays on the books in Colorado for good.

Other states where lane filtering and/or lane splitting is not yet legal: Are you paying attention? 

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