Colorado joins California, Utah, Montana & Arizona in permitting lane filtering

 

I admit, for many years I considered “lane splitting“ to be reckless and foolish. It was the purview of young testosterone- driven stunter punks on sport bikes and hypermotards, wheelying down the highway centerlines, causing mayhem and destroying rider reputation for the rest of us. I was shocked California allowed it, and swore, “I’ll never do that, stupid and risky.”

Until I had the opportunity to try it several years ago, returning from a Baja excursion.

On U.S. Hwy. 5, south of Los Angeles, we found ourselves in dense, crawling traffic headed northbound. California’s highway lanes seem to be slightly wider than other states, and many have specific stretches with narrow lanes marked for motorcycles. We followed our guide and filtered up through the congestion, noticing how Cali drivers even slide a little left or right to make sure motorcyclists have room to ride by. We took it carefully and respectfully, and I rode amazed at how easy it was, how respectful SoCal motorists were to us, and in no time we’d made our exit in Laguna.

Last year I had the chance to experience “lane filtering” again, during the Royal Enfield Hunter 350 launch. Near the back of the pack, I observed our line of press riders on demo bikes threading through dense afternoon traffic, gently moving and navigating through the countless automobiles plugging the 4-5 lanes of freeway. It was glorious.

Both experiences have completely changed my opinion of “lane splitting“, or what is more accurately called “lane filtering.“ I am now convinced it’s good for motorcyclists when done respectfully and properly, and it’s also good for motorists in reducing, even just a little, the traffic they have to commute in.

More states need to implement this. And it appears that is beginning to happen.

Lane filtering in California. It works for everyone. Photo: Nelvin C. Cepeda

Per the AMA:

Colorado has become the fifth state to legalize lane filtering after Gov. Jared Polis (D) signed SB24-079 on April 4, allowing motorcycles to filter between stopped cars in traffic and at stoplights.

The bill passed through both the Colorado House and Senate behind strong bipartisan support. Colorado now joins California, Utah, Montana and Arizona as states with lane-filtering legislation signed into law.

“The signing of SB24-079 is a significant win for motorcyclists in the state of Colorado,” AMA Central States Representative Nick Sands said. “With this new legislation, motorcyclists will now be allowed to filter through stopped traffic, giving riders the ability to legally remove themselves from vulnerable traffic situations before ever coming into contact with a distracted or inattentive driver.”

The bill- sponsored by Sens. Nick Hinrichsen (D-Pueblo) and Jim Smallwood (R-Douglas), as well as Reps. Javier Mabrey (D-Denver, Jefferson) and Ron Weinberg (R-Larimer)- will go into effect on Aug. 7, 2024. It will allow all motorcycles to pass stopped motor vehicles in the same lane. Motorcycles will be required to travel 15 miles per hour or less when filtering and will only be allowed to do so if the road has lanes wide enough to pass safely. Conditions must also allow for “prudent operation of the motorcycle while overtaking or passing.”

For the next three years, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) will collect safety data on lane filtering and issue a report to the Colorado General Assembly regarding the newly passed law.

The AMA continues to support efforts regarding lane-filtering legislation, as its success in several other states indicates its long-term viability in protecting motorcyclists on the open road.

 

*As this announcement states, Colorado lawmakers will revisit the legislation in three years to see its effects. and apparently will then decide whether or not to make the laws permanent. Here’s hoping more states will give lane filtering a test ride. I for one am convinced.

Rob 

To stay up to date on the latest lane filtering news, visit the AMA Action Center.

The AMA’s position on lane filtering, and lane splitting, can be found at AmericanMotorcyclist.com/lane-splitting/.

Top photo: American Motorcyclist Association 

 

Law Tigers Motorcycle Lawyers Ad

6 Comments

  1. Joshua Placa

    Bikers are going to do this anyway, law or no law, just now we won’t get fined, maybe. The law differs in each state so read up before throttling through. In CA, drivers are supposed to actually move over enough to give you a slot to pass, but that doesn’t happen a lot. Still can’t use the shoulder. It also helps keep drivers from shooting you because you rolled to the front of the stoplight. Still might piss off some road ragey people so there’s always that. The only problem I see is hooligans flying down the highway between lanes because they now have a license to be stupid. This often doesn’t end well.

    Reply
    • Rob Brooks

      Honestly, the two times I rode out there and had occasion to lane filter, I never saw stunt punks abusing the privilege, and never encountered cager curmudgeons who I felt threatened by. Of course, I don’t live there, so those of you who do, I’m sure you have to endure the idiots when they do take to the freeways.

      Reply
  2. Hawkeye

    A few years back, Illinois debated this issue. At the time, as the Motorcyclist Columnist for the Daily Herald Newspaper, I was firmly against “lane filtering”, as I still am today. I’ve experienced it riding several times in California, and was mostly scared to death. However, California has been doing this for over 60 years, and it is part of the culture. Introducing that now on the roads around Chicago would, in my opinion, lead to carnage. Even during rush hours, which is most of the day, people still change lanes to gain a single car length, and they’re NOT going to see motorcycles coming up behind them. OR, they’ll be dicks and move over to block. In California, drivers seem to be resigned to the traffic and know there’s no real advantage in changing lanes all the time. I hope the statistics in Colorado will be favorable, but I’m doubting it will be.

    Reply
  3. Dave Kelley

    I would be a bit apprehensive at first. I have never experienced or tried lane filtering or splitting. My only experience is having the bejesus scared out of me in my auto on Arizona freeway this last February.

    Reply
    • Ted Edwards

      Lane splitting and filtering can be dicey, but there is some technique to it. Once you master it, you hate being in non-lane splitting states.

      Reply
  4. FLOYD R BURDETT

    As I have been told by several “Left Coasters”… the rider must pass at no more than 20mph faster than the Cage they are passing… NOT 20 over the Posted Speed! just not to “Strafe” drivers, at like 60mph when they are creeping at 5-10mph… But I am certainly not an ‘Expert’ on the subject…
    I think the biggest “Challenge” though, for Riders, will be drivers that did not get the message… and start “Playing COP” and blocking or even pretending to open doors or squeezing the lane to prevent you from getting by…
    MOST “Cagers” just think of it as “Breaking in Line” and Cheating… They do not realize how it can ‘compress’ jams and move more vehicles thru a given stretch of roadway…

    Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *