Lane Splitting. That’s what motorcyclists and law enforcement call it when you’re riding between two lanes of slow-moving or stopped traffic. But can you do it without risking a ticket or worse?
The answer, of course, depends on where you are riding. In many countries around the world, the practice isn’t just tolerated (and legal), it’s a deeply ingrained part of the culture. It would probably also be impossible to enforce anti-lane splitting laws in places like China, Vietnam or India, where the majority of vehicles are often scooters and small motorcycles!
In European countries, the practice is both legal and tolerated, with a few exceptions. In Germany, for example, lane splitting moving traffic is prohibited, but slowly moving between lanes of stopped vehicles (“filtering”) is tolerated, though not expressly allowed. In France, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands and most other countries, the practice is not just lawful, it’s expected.
In North America, it’s not as accepted. In Mexico, it’s legal and tolerated (be polite and friendly though!), but los gringos in the USA and Canada aren’t as accepting. Of the 50 states, only California has legalized lane splitting, and though there have been attempts to legalize it in Nevada, Texas, Washington and Oregon, it’s still a dream outside the Golden State.
Canadians are similarly disappointed when they try to save some time by sneaking in between lanes of cars. Traffic laws vary from province to province in Canada, and though it isn’t expressly prohibited everywhere, it’s still not tolerated under the Maple Leaf flag. In fact, the Ontario Ministry of Transportation calls it “extremely dangerous,” and authorities will cite you for something like reckless driving if they catch you.
So where is it legal to lane split? You can do it in most places with roads, but not everywhere. Carefully check with local riders and police to see if it’s legal, acceptable and safe to do – or suffer the consequences of your bad decisions! Ride safe!