Earlier this year the Canadian Motorcycle Association conducted a survey to obtain input from motorcyclists on the topics of Lane-Splitting (passing between lanes when cars are moving), and Lane-Filtering (passing between when cars are stopped – going to the front of the line).
We were gratified at the response; just under 700 individuals participated, with 96% stating they currently ride a motorcycle on public roads. It was also interesting that the respondents represented a broad range of riding experience from less than 1 year (2%) to 40+ years (13%). The majority fell into the range of 2-4 years (22%), 5-9 years (17%) and 10-19 years (17%).
Although the input was generally in favour of such initiatives, there were concerns about increased risk to the safety of the motorcyclists, and a strong recommendation that the authorities conduct a major educational campaign prior to implementation.
Given the CMA’s focus on safety, it is our position that, of the two practices, endorsement of the practice of lane-filtering is worthy of considerable more emphasis than that of lane-splitting. It is not expected that the practice of riding between and among other moving vehicles, even when all drivers are attentive and capable, can be accomplished without increased risk to the motorcyclist. In contrast, when a rider only moves between static lanes of traffic at controlled intersections, both the slower speed of the manoeuvre and the set distances among the various vehicles offers a considerable reduction in risk variables with which the rider needs to deal.
In addition, lane-filtering also offers broader benefits not only limited to safety. The motorcycle is often promoted as a means of reducing congestion on roadways, and this factor is displayed nowhere better than in the context of lane-filtering. Coupled with congestion reduction is the potential for motorcycles to make contributions to emissions control as lane-filtering ultimately results in a reduction of the time that the vehicles spend on the road.