More states are considering legalizing lanesplitting

The message we need to share with everyone, cagers or riders alike.

Ahead of the 2020 riding season, lanesplitting is back in the news, with two US states considering legalizing the practice.

Proposals to legalize lanesplitting and filtering (lanesplitting is riding between moving cars, filtering is moving between stopped cars) have been popping up all over the US in the past few years, with Connecticut, Texas, Virginia, Washington, and Montana all looking at some form of legalization. The city of Toronto also examined the idea in 2018, although we haven’t heard anything since, and that probably means we’ll still have to wait a while for the practice to be legalized in Canada.

But, riders in Virginia and Arizona might see changes soon! Common Tread is reporting that lawmakers in both states are examining bills that would allow motorcycles to travel between moving cars (basically, when traffic’s slow or stopped, and only at low speeds, that sort of thing).

With Utah recently legalizing filtering, and even Hawaii granting a watered-down compromise (bikes can filter forward on the shoulder in certain situations), we are finally seeing movement forward on this issue, and it doesn’t seem to be dying down.

If you want lanesplitting or filtering in Canada, what can you do? Start by contacting the Canadian Motorcycle Association and the Motorcycle & Moped Industry Council, and ask their reps what those organizations are doing to help riders get ahead in traffic. You should also talk to your local MLA and get their advice on who to contact in government. Finally, there’s always social media; most geographic regions have riders’ Facebook pages, and some of them are even devoted to legalizing lanesplitting. Get involved, and get heard.


  1. Quote from the article above: ‘With Utah recently legalizing lanesplitting along those lines…..’

    The Utah Bill legalised ‘Lane Filtering’, not ‘Lane Splitting’.
    In Virginia the proposed Bill is for ‘Lane Filtering’, not ‘Lane Splitting’.

    As Journalists, please make sure you educate yourselves on the difference. For example, in Australia it is legal to ‘Lane Filter’ in many jurisdictions but illegal to ‘Lane Split’. The difference is defined in law there.

    More on the difference between the two manoeuvres can be found at:

    • As the Virginia proposal reads:

      A. For the purposes of this section, the term “lane filtering” means the act of overtaking and passing another vehicle that is stopped or traveling at a speed not in excess of 10 miles per hour in the same direction of travel and in the same lane.

      I dunno James, looks like “lanesplitting” to me.

      • Zac – That looks like Lane Filtering. My guess is if it becomes law in Virginia and you are filtering past a vehicle that’s doing more than 10mph you’ll be be ticketed for Lane Splitting, dangerous driving or similar.
        Australia actually defines the difference in law. For example, in most jurisdictions of Australia it is legal to Lane Filter up to 30kph. Filter faster than that and you will receive a ticket that states the offence of Lane Splitting. Basically I see Lane splitting as higher speed Lane Filtering (i.e. in excess of 30kph) by passing vehicles between lanes of traffic going in the same direction.

        Here is how LFBC defines the two manoeuvres:

        • Sounds like you want to get this into one person’s definition vs. another. Over in California, the definition is different
          , and I reckon they’d know what they’re talking about. As per the CHP: “21658.1 (a) For the purposes of this section, “lane splitting” means driving a motorcycle, as defined in Section 400, that has two wheels in contact with the ground, between rows of stopped or moving vehicles in the same lane, including on both divided and undivided streets, roads, or highways.” There’s more here.

          The real problem, as I see it, is not that we at CMG define “lane filtering” as “The practice of riding your motorcycle between non-moving cars to get to the front at a stop sign, or red light,” or that we define lanesplitting as “The practice of riding your motorcycle between moving cars.” The real problem is that when we write sensible articles about either practice, we’re then swamped by cries of people who want to continue banning the practice in Canada as they perceive it as unsafe (although nobody plans to force them to do it) … and also swamped by cries of people who say we’re “undoing” all their work because we don’t use the exact same terminology they’re using, despite putting up careful and intelligent arguments in favour of sharing lanes, and despite the fact we are (far as I know) the only moto-mag in Canada doing so.

          • Different jurisdictions around the world use use different terminology. So, the fact that California defines their version as Lane splitting doesn’t necessarily make that the best term to use here in Canada. You’ll notice that the recent trend of any bills being introduced in the USA is to shy away from the term ‘Lane Splitting’ as it, to many, conjures up motorcycles riding at high speed ‘zipping’ between stopped or moving traffic. Lane Filtering offers a softer approach terminology wise and in my mind more politically palatable.

            I certainly don’t want to make this one person version v another person view on the terminology, but I would suggest that there are currently more references to Lane Filtering in global legislation than there is to Lane Splitting. Just because California calls it Lane Splitting doesn’t mean we in Canada need to adopt that term even though we don’t have one peice of legislation that allows for it.
            I tend to look at this from a more global perspective rather than North America centric, as I have ridden all over Europe in a Lane Filtering environment for years so know whats going on regarding Lane Filtering in many jurisdictions. I’ll be riding in Australia this year.

            Even CMG has their own definition of Lane Filtering that tends to differ from the global norm as CMG’s version cars must be stopped when Lane Filtering. Why do they need to be stopped I ask?? I suspect is something to do with what Toronto council were flouting?
            In many other Jurisdictions where Lane Filtering is already legal, riders may pass stopped or slow moving vehicles at relatively slow speed. We are suggesting to a max of 30kph in Canada (School zone speed). The law states 30kph in Australia. In the UK the rule of thumb is a max of 40mph. Utah cars must be stopped when Filtering.
            There is a problem with cars needing to be stopped to allow Lane Filtering as, should one car just creep forward slowly at say 2kph you are then breaking the law if you are filtering at that time. From a practical perspective that sounds fine at traffic lights, but out on congested highways that’s nuts, as we all know that in congested traffic vehicles stop and start/creep all the time. You’d be stop starting filtering like a yo-yo in that scenario!

            My beef I guess is CMG ran this article saying that more US states are considering Lane Splitting when in fact the law before the house in Virginia clearly states Lane Filtering. The law before the house in Arizona states neither, that I can see. Utah legalised Lane Filtering.

            You go on to say: ‘Finally, there’s always social media; most geographic regions have riders’ Facebook pages, and some of them are even devoted to legalizing lanesplitting’

            Here in BC LFBC is in fact devoted to legalising Lane Filtering. Motorcycle Filtering in Alberta is the same.
            I’m not aware of any social media pages or motorcycle associations in Canada devoted to ‘Lane Splitting’ or advocating for Lane Splitting.
            I know that BCCOM advocates for Lane Filtering but not Lane Splitting.

            Here in Canada I have been advised by MOTI that there is there no way BC Ministry of Transport will consider introducing Lane Splitting but they may consider Lane Filtering at some point in the future. There is a similar outlook in Alberta.
            The group advocating for Lane Filtering in Alberta has a similar definition of Lane Filtering to the group advocating for Lane Filtering in BC. As groups, we both independently came to the conclusion that Lane Splitting should not be the best term to be used when advocating to allow motorcycles to filter between lanes of stopped or slow moving traffic.

            As for being swamped by people suggesting that you are not using the correct terminology. They may have a point. I would suggest that if a law is being presented as ‘Lane Filtering’ you report it as such. If a group is dedicated to Lane Filtering you report is as such.
            If there is a law being introduced that specifically mention Lane Splitting then fair enough.

            We all need to get on the same page with this. It not about what California calls it, it’s about what might be politically palatable here, which is why we keep touting 30kph max, as its the school zone speed limit in Canada. That sounds safe to anyone.

  2. Lane splitting no. Filtering yes. I personally think lane splitting at highway speeds is insane. Filtering in slow and stationary traffic though, should be legal. I know I’ve filtered illegally several times to get past slow vehicles, mainly to get away from the much more dangerous situation of angry impatient cagers stuck behind those slow vehicles. Usually rock haulers and dump trucks.

  3. I’m a fan of filtering but in Toronto, and its drivers, I think we’d see a spike in deaths for our two wheel fraternity. Let’s face it, drivers change lanes first then look after in this city let alone those road warriors out there protecting their right to drive in the passing lane at 99 kms an hour who will not take kindly to those people, to quote Don Cherry, that will lane split between them and those in the right lane passing them. No thanks.

    • Most drivers I have observed change lanes without looking don’t look after the lane change either unless it is forward for another gap they might be able to force the car into. What is behind or beside is only relevant if it has 18 wheels.

        • This is perfect, and my absolute rule for Vancouver riding on divided highways. I would rather be in charge and passing other vehicles rather than them passing me. Am I exceeding the posted limit? Often. I would rather get a ticket than be dead. Am I the guy that gives riders a bad name? I don’t care. It’s a jungle out there, survival of the fittest. I vastly prefer the middle of nowhere, but if I start in Port Moody and I am going to the Duffy Lake Road or the Sunshine Coast, it has to be done. Cagers often don’t signal, usually don’t shoulder check and rarely keep right except to pass. I just assume that I am invisible and that I need to look after myself. Loud pipes! LOL. Many cagers are clueless and completely oblivious to everything, except their phones. It only takes 1 to kill me, and I assume that every other vehicle on the road is that one. Filtering would help, but one road raging guy in a pick up truck will happily take me out, regardless of a silly “law”. Even when passing a slow moving vehicle on a dotted line on a 2 lane road, I have had several cagers swerve over the line to try to take me out because they are offended that I am legally passing. So, most don’t see me, and some are actively trying to kill me. Either way I lose. I don’t think his will ever be safe in Canada, regardless of the law. How many of you know and use your height and weight in Metric, and that has been how many years? I rest my case. Cam

Join the conversation!