Lane-sharing studied


Lane-sharing is legal in California.

The Oregon Department of Transportation
has undertaken a review of literature on lane-sharing, the practice
of splitting lanes of traffic on a motorcycle, but the review fails
to come to any real conclusion.

The department noted that increasing
motorcycle and other traffic, and potential benefits of lane-sharing
to traffic movement patterns, make the issue worth considering, but
in its review it found that there was very little study of
lane-sharing benefits and problems.

The obvious benefits of lane-sharing
include reducing congestion and travel times, increasing reliability,
and reducing emissions, the review paper, finished in June, stated.
However, it notes that "while these benefits are frequently cited,
their value has rarely been quantified," and "the degree to which
a motorcycle impacts congestion, relative to a car, is not well
measured, especially when lane-sharing is practiced."

The review says that law enforcement
finds lane-sharing is useful in emergency situations.

In North America, lane-sharing is only legal in
California, where it’s legal by default-no law has been written to
ban the behaviour.

The Hurt Report is cited as the most
frequently noted study, but that 1981 paper did not directly examine
lane-sharing as a causation factor in crashes, and the California
Highway Patrol does not include lane-sharing among its approved list
of crash causes.

Lane-sharing is widely allowed in
Europe, and has been studied there. The MAIDS report, for instance,
found it to be a factor in a small percentage of collisions, and
largely because drivers in stopped or slowed cars do not expect a
motorcycle to be moving near them, and may suddenly turn into the
motorcycle’s path.

The Oregon study does not form a solid
conclusion, but leaves room for further study. "It is clear that
additional research on lane-sharing is needed," the paper says.
"Little information currently exists; most of which is part of
large crash studies where lane-sharing is not the primary focus."

See the review paper yourself at


  1. I was under the impression that a motorcycle is a HOV. You are one rider on a bike that is designed to seat possibly two. That’s 50% occupancy, when 2 people in a standard 5 seat sedan is only 40%. Plus, a hybrid with only 1 passenger is allowed to use the HOV. A motorcycle often gets better fuel efficiency than a hybrid.

  2. I rode in England for three years and loved what they call filtering. Would love to see it here I was involved in rider training there so I had access to expert opinions. Lane splitting is very intense – you can’t take your eyes off the traffic to check your mirrors. Done properly you don’t exceed 20mph past stopped traffic or 40 mph past moving traffic with a differential speed of 20 mph or less. You also must never cross a solid white line. Police and IAM training Officials encourage filtering. The laws are written differently there. Here you own the piece of lane you occupy not so there

  3. “Maybe if there was more advantages to riding to work than more riders would do it – as it is I had to sit in 40+ degree traffic yesterday on my bike while the HOV traffic sailed by!”

    I doubt that legalizing lane splitting (or opening HOV lanes) would make a significant change in number of motorcyclist on the road. Elsewhere, it is a necessity to get someplace, in Canada it is not, because nearly everyone has a car, gas and cars are relatively inexpensive as well. Motorcycle is really a toy most of the time. Not enough of us to make any difference as far as congestion is concerned.

  4. Was in Paris last year and yes, it’s a perfect test case on how to manage congestion. In Lisbon, I can also attest to this and it actually forces drivers to be far more aware of their surroundings and they welcome fewer cars . Win-win-win.

    Maybe if there was more advantages to riding to work than more riders would do it – as it is I had to sit in 40+ degree traffic yesterday on my bike while the HOV traffic sailed by!

    It’ll never happen in Fantino and McGuinty’s Ontario…not as long as those dumb a-holes are around.

  5. I once heard a truck driver say that when he changes lanes he puts on his turn signal…waits three seconds…and changes lanes….no matter what.

  6. I’d never do this in southern Ontario. Drivers of cars are so terrible…and rarely paying attention to the world around them. In fact, I think most people have trained themselves to subconsciously ignore what’s happening around them…

  7. I agree with the comments about how dangerous it would be in this province when vehicles are moving…

    When they are sitting at the lights, why would I like to sit way in the back… Especially when half the holdup is people not paying attention, and those waiting to make a right turn, not to mention the bus that’s half way between lanes, blocking them both……

  8. When I lived in St. Catherines in the 80s, while waiting for a boat to pass through the canal locks, it was common practice for all two wheelers to move to the head of the line. Don’t know if that is still done / allowed but think the same principle could be used at level rail crossings etc., and maybe, one day, at traffic lights.


  9. In standstill traffic, it should be allowed. In moving traffic, the Ontario driving community is not up to the task. I also think that the impact on congestion is way overstated. I am talking specifically about Ontario. What’s the percentage of motorcyclists commuting daily in Ontario? 0.00005% or something low of similar relevance.

  10. I’ve ridden in parts of Europe where it’s O.K. to drive down the centre line of the road with oncoming traffic when you want to pass, Loved it, lovvvvvved it. Now it does require drivers to actually pay attention and we generally discourage that here so I don’t see laws like this ever flying here in Ontario.

  11. Paris is a huge city and lane splitting/sharing at intersections, from what I can tell, is relieving a lot of the congestion and encouraging 2 wheel “greener” transit.
    I watched it in action and to me it looked safe, cars knew at a light that it was going to happen and the bikes took off and got out of the way of the 4-wheelers…

  12. I think this might be the valid part of the Ontario HTA

    Where highway divided into lanes – 154.

    (1) Where a highway has been divided into clearly marked lanes for traffic,

    (a) a vehicle shall be driven as nearly as may be practicable entirely within a single lane and shall not be moved from the lane until the driver has first ascertained that the movement can be made with safety;

  13. While sitting in traffic, fifteen cars back from the lights, when only two or three are getting through, I’ve been tempted…

    Seen the odd one do it.. Sometimes squids, sometimes 1%ers…

    Whats the word in Ont? Is it specifically outlawed? What if officer dufus lays a ‘racing/stunting’ charge?

    Is it worth the hassle?
    Worth the risk???


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