The topic of lane splitting is as hot as it’s always been and the French being the French, just threw oil on the fire. Whether you are for or against, you are likely to have an opinion, as do I.
As a results of a 5 year study that concluded lane splitters were involved in 12% more crashes, as of February 1st, the French are no longer allowed to lane split. They were actually never officially allowed, but it was condoned. Read more about their findings here. It might have been because most riders and drivers in France are, well, French. It might have been because it was something nobody was accustomed to, or it was simply the wine they consumed before partaking in the experiment.
What we do know is that The American Motorcycle Association claims the opposite; namely that it enhances motorcycle safety: “A motorcycle’s narrow width can allow it to pass between lanes of stopped or slow-moving cars on roadways where the lanes are wide enough to offer an adequate gap. This option can provide an escape route for motorcyclists who would otherwise be trapped or struck from behind. There is evidence (Hurt, 1981) that traveling between lanes of stopped or slow-moving cars (i.e., lane splitting) on multiple-lane roads (such as interstate highways) slightly reduces crash frequency compared with staying within the lane and moving with other traffic.”
I have always done it and will always keep doing it, I feel safe doing it and if the merde hits the fan, I am glad to have an escape route. But what do you think? Level a comment below, but, as they say on advrider: Feel free to disagree, to debate, but do not insult someone you disagree with.
Please, let us know what you think!
Lane splitting: With varying comfort levels, I have always done it. Despite living in France I will remain tempted to continue doing it if the opportunity presents itself. Fortunately, I am rarely tempted because, most of the time, there is either insufficient traffic or I’m not on a multi-lane road !
There is nothing wrong with Lane Splitting most of us who do this are using their brains. The French could better look what drivers are doing they are the biggest problem playing with the smartphone, changing lanes because they lose their patience. But it is always easier to make a new regulations then tell people to follow the existing rules.
In every country motorists (both car and motorcycle) have their own quirks leading to sometime unique combinations. The Peripherique around Paris is a pregnant example of crazy car drivers and suicidal motorscooter drivers. I mostly drive in The Netherlands where lane splitting is only allowed when traffic is going very slow or stands still. I do it happily but critically appraising every situation before I start doing this and sometimes deciding staying in lane is the safest option.
Like many things, it’s not black or white. Sometimes ‘lane splitting’ is ok, but at other times it is not. In slow or stationary traffic it shouldn’t be a problem whereas riding between lines of cars at 70 mph on a motorway is not to be advised. As usual, it requires intelligence on the part of the bike rider as to when it is appropriate and when not, but also car drivers need to be aware of the situation. It would certainly be a dangerous manoeuvre in situations when a car driver is NOT expecting it, so other drivers HAVE to be fully aware of when it is and when it is not allowed, but even then to be prepared for the fact that it might.
It is stupid to ban this practice outright, but better education is required on both sides.
Just a comment from the standpoint of a car driver. I was recently caught in very long line of stopped traffic in California where lane splitting is legal and common. An inconsiderate rider clearly thought I was not over as far as he would like so he reached out with his gloved hand and snapped off my side mirror. This disgusting behavior is dangerous and gives all motorcyclists a bad name.
Agreed! Dangerous, childish behaviour. The thing is with traffic in general, that you can not see facial expression. One doesn’t know why a driver or rider is acting like he/she does or wether or not one made a mistake or is sorry. The typical assumption is that someone did it on purpose and as a response reacts aggressive. We should all try to think more about several scenarios why one is acting like they are. Perhaps they are not doing it on purpose.
The study in France is very controversial to the point that it will be renewed. Here the car drivers are well educated and most of them will get out of their way to let you pass. Problem is that scooters are lane splitting at very high speed. Most of the time accident occurs when a car driver changes lane and doesn’t see the motorcycle coming at high speed. I ride in France (diavel) and I always look at the head of the drivers when traffic moves at higher speed. Lane splitting is here to stay.
Agreed. Timely as I just read about this experiment in 11 French Departements for the last 5 years. The data looks decidedly dodgy! Lane splitting here is called remonter les files (move up the line) and generally, it works pretty well here in the south east of France.
Car drivers are generally very considerate and deliberately move aside for motos to pass. However, I’ve noticed that scooters often weave through the long queues of cars both sides of the Franco/Swiss border at dangerous speeds, leaving themselves vulnerable to an unexpected lane change by a car.
In general, unless caught in a static ‘rush hour’ queue a straight overtaking manoeuvre does the trick. I’ve never seen the police pull over a motorcyclist for lane splitting. If you’re careful – it seems to be tolerated.
It is now legal to lane filter in NSW Australia if you are on a full license and travelling less than 30kms an hour
We have had legal lane splitting in Queensland (Australian state) for a number of years. Like everything, if you ride like an idiot and don’t understand that you are often in the blind spot of other drivers then you can expect to end up in trouble. If you take your time and observe other road users (I watch the wheels rather than faces) then lane splitting is a boon for motorcycle riders! I think the French decision is flawed.
I whole heartedly agree that lane splitting will save lives IF car drivers are educated as to what lane splitting is. Starting with drivers education taught in public schools for beginning drivers as well as publishing it in drivers handbooks that are used to prepare one to get their drivers license. I also believe it should only be used if there is a slow down or stoppage of traffic and the speed differential between the flow of traffic and lane splitters should not exceed 15-20 MPH. And oh yes, motorcyclists also need education on how to lane split safely. That is blatantly obvious after looking at YouTube videos of lane splitters in California.
Here in Victoria (Australia) they actually distinguish between lane filtering (below 30km/h) and lane splitting (above 30km/h). Filtering is legal, splitting is not. Learner riders aren’t allowed to filter.
Commenting purely as a car driver, I often experience high-speed ‘lane splitting’ on motorways here in South East England – often when traffic is moving at 60>70 mph ……….. my wife usually comments that the motorcycle riders treat the lane-markers as a “motorcycle lane; turning a 3-lane motorway in to a 5-lane motorway just for them!
Although often with a bit of anxiety, I have been lane-splitting since I started riding. I never take it for granted, and am always on high alert when I do it, because, well, ya nevvah know… you never know why someone else will do, or when a car might suddenly appear from behind a truck, and since moving to an electric motorcycle, I’ve been even more careful, keeping my brights on and my thumb on the horn/klaxon button…
And you never know when there will be a sudden change or when a police officer might be lurking behind the next curve… I’ve never actually known whether lane-splitting is/was permitted, so I’ve always done it with a bit of trepidation…
I’ve also noticed enormous differences between countries and their (in)tolerance or support of lane-splitting. Some cultures actually leave motorcyclists a free half-lane! Others, by contrast, place themselves on the lane divider or nudge close to neighbouring cars to prevent it. What can’ya do?
So, in the end, I believe lane-splitting is a privilege for motorcycles, paid for by our smaller footprint and lower impact. It is not a right, and not to be abuse, but when the option is standing surrounded by smoking, heaving, heating metal boxes, I’d rather get where I’m going faster. Even if it earns me a snarl from some of the less understanding drivers.
I always felt sorry for the few trike riders (three-wheeled motorcycles) I see now and then stuck in traffic under the scorching California sun, with the cooling fans at full speed trying to cool down the humming engines. I ride my bike to work everyday (pre-Covid), and line splitting was a constant during those rides.
I had my fair share of dumb drivers changing lanes without signaling, distracted ones thinking texting and driving is OK, and a few angry ones that wanted to share the pain of being stuck by closing the gap so that no motorcycle can pass in between two cars. I’ve also seen bike riders expecting the sea of cars parting like the Red Sea just because they have loud pipes, and thinking they own the road.
I am very grateful for the blind spot alert in many new cars that partly compensate for bad driving habits, and can’t wait for more self–driving cars on the road to make me feel safer when splitting lane in the hopefully not-so-distant future.
No way in heck you could ever convince me to lane split. Car drivers are already bad enough when you’re in plain sight and they want to turn across your lane from oncoming traffic.
As usual, nothing is black or white, so lane splitting can be dangerous, but also convenient and safe. Obviously we’re talking about multilane roads with reasonable width. When traffic is fluid and fast, it is dangerous because easily a car can change lane without carefully look behind and the motorcycle crashes. Anyway, with fluid traffic, lane splitting is not needed. Neverheless, with slow or stand still traffic, this danger is quite seldom (maybe a car open a door in the middle of a traffic jam?). In these cases, lane splitting, besides decreases the number of vehicles in the jam and so shorts the queues, it can be safer for the motorcyle, avoiding to be sandwiched between cars, which happens quite often (recently to a friend of mine).