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Motorcycle lane-splitting. France bans it, US allows it - who’s going backwards?

Whilst France outright bans filtering on a motorcycle, the US is slowly allowing it. Which makes the most sense, realistically?

Motorcycle lane-splitting. France bans it, US allows it - who’s going backwards?

FILTERING, lane-splitting, whatever you want to call it - it’s legal in some places, tolerated in others, and outright banned in some countries. 

France recently switched their stance from tolerating lane-splitting (as in, it wasn’t explicitly legal, but tolerated and widely seen) to outright banning it, with an astonishing €135 fine and 3 points on their licences. Incroyable! 

Super Soco TC Max (2021) Walkaround | Electronic Motorcycle | Visordown

We covered this story when French motorcyclists protested in their thousands, as French authorities quoted an increase in accidents over the 5-year test period. 

Now, meanwhile across the pond in the US, lane-splitting really does divide opinion. On the left, you have those who see it as rude, unnecessary and dangerous, whilst on the right, you have those who see it as practical, realistic and the exact purpose of a motorcycle. 

Our colleagues over at RideApart have a handy explanation on where it is and isn’t legal, and which states are planning to introduce legalisation of lane splitting. It's currently only allowed in California, Montana, and Utah - with more states on the way.

Now, I can’t imagine many people reading this will be outright against filtering - or at least it’ll be the opinion with fewer representatives. 

So, let me play devil's advocate for a minute. 

If a study over 5 years in France showed a distinct rise in accidents (and, therefore, more injuries and casualties), would it then be morally correct for those who commissioned that study to go against the definitive results of their research? Would they be held accountable for the injuries sustained going forward? Should they really legalise something that is seen as dangerous?

Realistically, lane-splitting is an entirely natural means of travel, particularly in heavily populated cities and towns that suffer from traffic problems. I’m sure we’ve all experienced it, you’re sat in a car in London (or insert any city here), stuck in rush-hour traffic moving at 1 mile per hour - literally - and enviously watching the bikes cruise past miles of congestion. 

london city riding

Now, of course, form your own opinions, but I think if you’re willing to take the risk, you’re willing to live with the consequences. Nobody is forcing you to filter, if you want to sit in traffic in your scooter then go ahead. If you go for it and mess it up, crash into someone or come off, you’ve taken that responsibility. You’re an adult, you’re entitled to making your own decisions, after all. 

It’s a bit rash for the French authorities to implement such a strict punishment after being so tolerant of it previously, though. 

What's your opinion on lane-splitting?

In my view (if you wanted to know), lane-splitting should absolutely be legal, and the US have the right idea (just about). 

I think it’s madness to think anything other than letting a narrow machine make use of a narrow space. It’s not like it has any effect on the people in cars getting to their destinations any slower. Perhaps it’s just jealousy!

I can just picture a French government official sat in his Peugeot in traffic (probably at the Arc De Triumph) when Françoise scoots past laughing at him for being an andouille in his car - he’d probably have said ‘mon dieu, that’s it i’m banning it all - who’s laughing now!’

Lane-splitting divides opinion, but who's on the right side?