Spain to Open the Hard Shoulder to Motorcycles at Busy Times

The move would allow motorcyclists to take to the hard shoulder of a motorway as long as certain rules are followed

Spain to Open the Hard Shoulder to Motorcycles at Busy Times

Spain looks set to legalise motorcycle riders taking to the hard shoulder at times when the traffic is moving slowly or at a standstill.

The move comes after ‘several years of requests’ from Spanish bikers, according to Le Repaire des Motards, and the update to the highway code is expected to be formalised and ready for 2025.

The move would allow powered two-wheelers to take to the hard shoulder (also called the ‘Emergency Lane’ in parts of Europe) when the main carriageway of traffic is at a standstill. When doing this the bikes must not exceed 30kmh (18mph) and the rider must give way to bicycles (the change is to be implemented on smaller dual-carriageways also), agricultural vehicles, and emergency vehicles.

The change could mean that filtering through heavy traffic in Spain could be a thing of the past, although taking to the hard shoulder, as an alternative to filtering, might not be as perfect as it sounds. For one thing, there is a risk of coming into contact with a vehicle pulling into the hard shoulder without checking sufficiently. Should a car need to use the lane due to a breakdown or other emergency, the driver will likely be more focused on getting their car and passengers to safety, rather than checking and double checking their mirrors and blindspot.

There are also other risks involved with taking the lane less travelled, and they come from the infrequent use they experience. With a much lower volume of traffic using the hard shoulder, they can be covered in debris that could cause a puncture or blow-out, or worse, cause the rider to crash.

The move seems like a very sensible one from the Spanish government, although I wouldn’t get too excited about the same thing happening here. Spain is the fifth largest motorcycle market in Europe (after Turkey, Italy, France and Germany), according to, and is growing year on year. That volume of bikes makes implementing a change like this easier than it would in the UK, for instance. Although we can but hope!