Globe and Mail talks lanesplitting

Photo: Roland Dobbins

Here at CMG, we’ve found lanesplitting always raises interesting conversations, and we’re always happy to point out its advantages. Sadly, few other Canadian moto-writers are taking up this fight, so we’re happy to see this piece in The Globe & Mail.

Writer Jason Tchir says the British Columbia Coalition of Motorcyclists (BCCOM) is trying to make lanesplitting an election issue in BC, writing to candidates and asking their position on the practice.

Otherwise, Tchir simply lays out the viewpoints on the practice; head over there, check out the story, and leave your thoughts. If politicos won’t listen when motorcycle magazines praise the idea, maybe they’ll be more receptive when they see the comments section in one of Canada’s largest national newspapers.


  1. Filtering, Yes, Splitting, No. Ontario drivers routinely have a hard enough time avoiding EACH OTHER let alone taking notice of a motorcycle which has successfully snuck up between them. Filtering in slow and stopped traffic makes so much sense for so many reasons, the only people I can see not supporting it are those stuck in their cars watching me sail through the congestion they caused.

  2. A study was done in Brussels that showed if 10% of drivers switch to riding, traffic congestion would improve by 40%. Because at speed, a motorcycle takes as much space on the road as a car. But with filtering, as traffic slows and motorcycles start filtering, they reduce their effective space. Traffic moves fine until it reaches a saturation, then it slows dramatically. With more vehicles filtering, this saturation point is significantly delayed.

  3. Long ago (25 to 30 years) I attended a meeting of various Ontario motorcycling associations with senior official from the Ontario Ministry of Transportation (MTO). The representatives from the Biker’s Rights Organization (BRO) proposed the “lane splitting (in moving traffic)” idea. It was unacceptable to the MTO people because it was illegal under the Highway Traffic Act. I think this is still the govt. position. (BRO were still trying to get the motorcycle helmet law in Ontario revoked.)
    Interestingly, in the on-line proposals by individuals for the 2017 Ontario Ministry of Finance budget preparation, there was a proposal for a 1 year trial law change to allow lane splitting and to propose monitoring to see if it improved road safety, reduced traffic congestion, and also would reduce air pollution. The proponent gave no details as to how the monitoring and evaluation would be done and the proposal was rejected as the govt. estimated that the cost would exceed $1,000,000/year – putting it outside the scope of the on-line proposal program. Having done some of this sort of research in the past, I think the proposal – as put forward – was not thought out enough to make it practical to try and study the potential usefulness of “lane splitting”.
    While California has passed legislation to try and regulate a previously unregulated (and therefore legal) practice, it is clear to me, from reading the U. of Berkley 2015 report and several other studies, that “lane splitting” in moving traffic speeds at other than very slow traffic speeds and slight speed differentials between the motorcycle and larger traffic is taking unnecessary chances and relies too much on the other traffic accepting the motorcycle as having the right to do it.
    “Filtering forward” in halted vehicle traffic has been a long-standing British motorcyclist and bicyclist tactic. It appears to work well in Taiwan where scooters and motorcycles outnumber autos, and special lanes are provided for 2-wheelers to do so. But there are cases of bicyclists in Ontario doing so in the curb lane and either being “doored” or run down and killed by a non-signalling but right-turning truck.
    With the fact that the soon-to-be-common so-called “autonomous” car fad is upon us, and from what I can see, from a recent trip in a Tesla S, these vehicles cannot sense and react appropriately to either bicycles, pedestrians or motorcycles, particularly at lateral angles. The technology just isn’t there and will be very expensive if it does come in the future.
    “Lane splitting” and “filtering forward” are two different actions which really differ only in the degree of added risk to the motorcyclist. BCCOM seems to be trying to promote the idea of moderate speed “lane splitting”. With all respect to Mr. Millier, MCC seems to be, as usual, the handmaiden of the increasingly remote MMIC, trying to think there is some way to sell more motorcycles in all this.

    • Wow, that went off the rails quickly. No idea where your reference is coming from AJ, I can assure you that the MMIC has had zero commentary on this issue with the MCC. We have looked at this issue and discussed it as a Board, based on the current data available we simply aren’t in a position to support it, nor are we in a position to reject it. More study would definitely be required in order for any Canadian province to even consider it, that is the MCC’s current stance. I can’t speak for the MMIC and therefore have no idea what their stance would be in regard to this issue. Your comment about not allowing this doesn’t seem to hold water, if lane filtering was permitted the industry would likely sell MORE motorcycles, so your reference above doesn’t really make sense.

  4. So i’m for letting me ride to the front of the line at a traffic light but couldn’t trust drivers in Ontario in the event of lane splitting. Let’s face it, If a driver sees what looks like an opening to move to the other lane, where you have a split second to make a decision, do you think the cager is going to double check for a motorcycle coming up the middle? Sorry but driving in Ontario is horrible with most asleep at the wheel. I’d love to return to driver involvement in driving a car but how many even own a standard anymore? Pretty hard to drink your coffee and do makeup if you have to shift gears.

    • For those thinking I’m sexist, change makeup to shaving to appease our female contingent. This way I upset everyone equally.

    • True, but they talk about both. Not to split hairs (!), but splitting Includes filtering while filtering does not include splitting. That was the reasoning here, anyway.

      • I thought the Globe article was only focused on lane filtering? Just want to make sure that people know/understand the difference, what BCCOM is trying to get enacted out west is lane filtering.

  5. Driver ability in the lower mainland of BC is abysmal. ICBC has driver licensing stats that they monitor and they MUST pass a certain percentage of new BC drivers to help keep their income at a defined level and customer satisfaction high. Unfortunately this means lots of drivers on the road who shouldn’t be = greater risk to motorcyclists and everyone else. ICBC then takes the position of very high rates for motorcycles because they statistically don’t want that line of business because total loss and injury is likely. More profit (+ 600 Million/year profit after expense) for the government through a “non profit” crown corp. If that profit starts to sag then they apply for annual rate hikes in the 5% to 12% range. ICBC fees are a hidden tax for the privilege of driving. If lane splitting eats into that margin via collisions, then they won’t approve it.

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