I do all I can not to be biased—it's my job. And it's also my job to question norms and spark conversations and debate. I spent my formative years riding in Europe, where I'm from, and although I don't agree with everything there, I can't help but see ways the US is lagging. 

The latest major development in motorcycle traffic legislation comes from Spain, or at least it looks like it will very soon. The move would allow motorcyclists to ride on hard shoulders in certain situations and as long as certain rules are followed. 

Here's everything you need to know and a couple of potential hazards I foresee. 

The potential change in legislation comes after Spanish motorcycle sales increased by 12.4% in 2023, which was the highest increase seen in 15 years. And, after an expected slowdown due to economic worries, sales continued to increase in 2024 year over year.

Spanish roads are flooded with bikes, and for the past few years, motorcyclists have been asking for one thing: to use the hard shoulder.

Having ridden in Spain, I can say lane splitting isn't just legal but expected in certain situations. If, for example, you're riding in a high-traffic urban area, many motorists expect motorcyclists to lane split and free up the flow of traffic. But now that Spain is experiencing a 2-wheeled boom, lane splitting might not be enough to keep things running smoothly, hence motorcyclists want to use the hard shoulder.

If passed, the update is expected to be formalized by 2025, and allow motorcyclists to travel on the hard shoulder when traffic is moving slowly or at a standstill. Riders must not exceed 18 mph and need to give way to cyclists, agricultural vehicles, and emergency vehicles. This could spell the end of lane splitting in Spain, at least in some situations. 

On the face of it, this sounds like a great plan, but I imagine some motorcyclists won't avail of the new law, at least not initially.

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Whenever any major traffic law change is rolled out there are often teething problems. Either people don't know about the new law, or it's not at the top of their minds. So when this new regulation involves using the hard shoulder, otherwise known as the emergency lane, it's not hard to see how this could have potentially deadly consequences. 

Any drivers in vehicles that break down and need to use the emergency lane for its intended purpose could be in too much of a panic, trying to get off the highway, that they don't check their mirrors or blind spot well enough. And this could lead to a crash.

There's also the fact that the hard shoulder is where all the debris is scattered, meaning it's a prime location for someone to ride if they want a puncture.

As more and more motorcyclists use the hard shoulder, the new traffic code should be fresher in drivers' minds, and the debris on the hard shoulder should start to push off to the side of the road. But, as mentioned, these are issues that could take time to work themselves out. No more than any new major traffic code change. 

I could write a whole other article on my experience and thoughts about tiered licensing, how it keeps new motorcyclists safer and riding for longer, and how much it sucks as a young rider. But just focusing on the traffic laws that separate motorcycles and cars, namely lane splitting, I wonder if the US lagging behind other countries in Europe and Asia.

Right now, lane splitting or filtering is only legal in a few states in the US. Would you like to see more states legalize it? And is more awareness needed to help drivers understand that lane splitting reduces time spent in traffic for both 2-wheeled and 4-wheeled road users?

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