The Riders Training Institute says Toronto city council is examining three initiatives that would make the GTA much more moto-friendly—and one of those initiatives is an experiment into legalizing lane filtering.
(As a quick explanation, filtering is the practice of riding a motorcycle between stopped traffic at an intersection, allowing the bike to get to the front of the line and quickly accelerate when the light changes, reducing the number of vehicles stuck bumper-to-bumper—more information here).
City council adopted several policy proposals at the last meeting in June, proposals that RTI says it drew up. According to the city’s website, these proposals include:
1. City Council request the General Manager, Transportation Services, in consultation with the Toronto Parking Authority, to report to the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee on:
a. expanding the number of dedicated motorcycle parking zones;
b. the enforcement of motorcycle only parking within those parking zones; and
c. the revenue implications from the ticketing of prohibited vehicles within those zones.
2. City Council request the General Manager, Transportation Services, to report to the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee on expanding the Designated Class of Vehicles permitted to use the reserved lanes on the following streets to include motorcycles:
a. Bay Street, from Front Street West to Bloor Street East; and
b. Don Valley Parkway, from Lawrence Avenue East to north of York Mills Road.
3. City Council request the General Manager, Transportation Services, in consultation with Toronto Public Health, to consider and report to the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee on a pilot project along the Richmond Street and Adelaide Street corridors which would allow motorcycles to filter between stopped vehicles, up to the stop line at controlled intersections where a stop signal is active, and only along lane boundaries that are not adjacent to any curb or pedestrian walkway, with implications for minimizing the risk of rear or front end collisions, and the overall flow of traffic.
Councillor Anthony Perruzza put the motion forward at the meeting, Councillor Gary Crawford seconded it. You can see a write-up from RTI here.
All these are good ideas; putting motorcycles in restricted-usage lanes and adding more parking should help ease congestion by promoting gridlock-busting bikes. But it’s the third point that’s the most interesting, as it appears Toronto is seriously considering this pilot project to examine the benefits and risks of filtering.
So far, Canadian provincial governments have mostly seemed extremely averse to the idea of looking seriously at lanesplitting and filtering, even while American legislators have been at least proposing the idea around at the state level for the past few years (with California legalizing the practice, all other states shooting the idea down). So, maybe this is what we need: a motivated municipal government willing to think outside the box and do some practical research of its own. It’s exciting news, and we’ll share any follow-up information we get.