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Pipeburn Poll: Do you filter?


Posted on November 16, 2010 by Andrew in Other. 92 comments

I had an interesting experience riding my bike the other day. And by interesting, I mean stressful, annoying and generally pissing from a great height on my impression of the human race. I was approaching a red light at an intersection. There were a few cars already stopped at the lights so, as I sometimes do, I rode around them to the head of the pack. Most countries call this move “filtering” or “lane splitting” – simply put it’s the process of riding a motorbike through stationary or slowly-moving traffic by riding in the spaces between the cars.

Usually this happens with little or no fanfare. I move up, the lights go green, and off I go. But this time it was a little different. The driver in the centre lane next to me let rip with his horn. And his mouth. And his middle finger. His complaint was something along the lines of me being a “queue jumper” and thinking that I “own the road”. Arse.

Anyway, back to the point. Having studied up, I told him that “under section 140 of the Australian road rules, motorbikes are allowed to move through stationary traffic”. Sounds great, yeah? Yeah. Except there’s one little problem; I lied. Ish. See, the rules are so vague as to be pretty much useless when it comes to motorbikes and filtering.

The net effect is that filtering in Australia is neither legal nor illegal. I have filtered right past police in stationary traffic and they don’t seem to raise an eyebrow, but I must admit if I do see them first I usually will pull up behind them and not pass just to be sure.

So where do you all stand on this? What’s the go in your country or state? Is it illegal or legal? And do you or should you care? In short, do you filter?

 








  • By reading this article, i've had the impression you were telling my own story.
    The law here is as obscure as those of Oz, and i feel exactly the same as you.
    ;]

    Greetings from France.

  • David

    Here you can learn a little about the reality of traffic in Brazil: http://bit.ly/d4K8Fw & http://bit.ly/cwwCYt

    Keep the good work!

  • Keeees

    I filter. When I can, when it's useful, when I can be bothered. 😉

    And it's legal here in the Netherlands. Has been for nearly 2 decades, though lots of people still seem to think otherwise. During rush hour it's mostly okay because people are used to it. On a sunday afternoon, it might get a bit more interesting sometimes…

  • Sputnik

    I have 'filtered' through peak hour traffic in Sydney Australia for some 40years. I could never have made it on time if I hadn't filtered. Once I tapped on a guys windows to tell him his indicators weren't working. Big mistake. He went mental and tried to ram me with his Merc. Filtering through the traffic left him to stew in his road rage and left me free and easy. When I rode a sports bike through the traffic; drivers shrank from me, school girls got the giggles and the bravest blew kisses. When I rode a Vespa people made room for me to get through and everyone smiled. Different strokes.

  • P.F. Flyer

    While filtering may be legal in California, it is not in most of the rest of the US. I filter when I see that it may speed up the flow of traffic. I have noticed that the residence in the north east are alot more open to this than in the south east. Where I live most people will intentionally block you so that you may not pass them. I believe lane splitting is alright when and where it is appropriate. A person must use a little bit of the gray matter.

  • In belgium they are trying to pass a law to allow us to filter. I Think it will be legal in 2011.
    I'm not sure about the text but we can't go 10km/h faster than the stopped/slowed tarffic.
    Cheers

  • Chuck Norris

    Its legal to do so in England. I do it all the time. I regularly pass police cars with no problems what so ever.

    Never had any problems with other road users telling me off. Not only do I filter through stationary traffic but also slow moving cages.

    Basically anyone who's moving slower than me is getting passed….though I don't think this counts as filtering, I do it anyway.

    Besides….. who's gonna mess with Chuck Norris?

  • Paddy

    It's illegal everywhere in Canada I believe. I do it only when it's safe and there's a long line of traffic ahead. I too have had a self-righteous bitch move her huge SUV over to block and we exchanged "pleasantries".

    Seems people here too don't mind scooters doing it, but think bikers are being obnoxious.

  • Dave

    Here in Viet Nam, you don't *HAVE* the right of way. You *TAKE* the right of way. I have a motorcycle while most people have scooters, I'm loud and everyone gets the eff out of my way.

  • In the UK im pretty sure the law states that it is legal to overtake stationary traffic irrespective of the road markings present, so filtering past a queue of cars is all good in the eyes of the law here in Blighty. Still requires a bit common 'noodle' sense though. Never been threatened doing that.

  • KENNY

    It seems quite surreal to me that this incident happened..Don't know if it's illegal or not, but here in Athens Greece slicing through traffic is almost obligatory if you ride a bike..It's like the reason that you buy one!!! Of course from the car driver's side, it can be stressful.

  • Nerg

    I passed my Advanced Motorcycle Test in the UK around 15 years ago – maybe more. I was trained by Derbyshire Police and examined by Nottinghamshire Police. I positively encouraged to filter and to generally 'make good progress'.

  • Gudge

    I think you need another choice in the poll for "I would totally filter, but it's not legal where I live"

  • Welcome to de paradox.

    In Spain it depends of the city. I mean, theorically, filtering is forbidden, instead that, in some cities, like Madrid, you can use the bus lane to avoid traffic and problems. But in the real world, in Madrid you can filter, while in Barcelona (where bus lane is also forbidden for bikes) is totally forbidden. Despite that, in both cities, they are painting specials zones before traffic lights to allow bikes and cycles to wait safety.
    As you can guess, it's impossible to reach that areas without filtering. WTF??

    Car drivers are always upset (sometimes they try to block you) with filtering because, scooters mostly, tend to filtering to much, sometimes damaging car's paint.

    Personally, I only filter with very slow or stopped traffic.

  • jereerej

    To continue what Susokary said, in France, it is more "tolerated" than "allowed".

    But, most of french riders do so, especialy in big cities when the roads become overloaded (working hours).

  • Steve

    In my home state (in the US) it is illegal and I almost never do it as The Man does not appreciate it. In DC I will do it more because the cops generally don't mind and the drivers are more used to it (although it is illegal). When I lived in Chicago if you tried it people would go mental. In Calif. the Highway Patrol fights against legislation to ban it as they say it helps ease traffic and in stop-and-go a rider is more at risk (i.e. a slight fender bender between cars = no one hurt whereas a car rear-ending a bike even a low speed cause more hurt (physical and mechanical).

  • f r o s t y

    Here in Italy I don't know if it is legal or not, but no car will shout or finger to you for filtering, it's expected from two wheels to do this…

  • RennyRacer

    Here in the good ol' US of A ( you can fill in what the A stands for), you see lane-splitting every day, everywhere on the West coast. it's accepted and actually seems to aid in traffic flow. On the right coast, one would be subjected to the same treatment you experienced down under. I'm from the Philadelphia area and never see it in the 'burbs. Was wondering if anyone out there tries it in the downtown area?

  • It's illegal in both Oregon and Washington, but both states have had legislation to legalize it fail.

    I don't do it, not only because it's illegal, but because I don't feel my time is worth more than the time of other people. That being said, the selfish side of me would really like to sometimes when I'm idling in traffic on my 34 year old, air cooled Honda. Were it legal, I'd do it in heavy traffic.

  • ogre

    I lane-split often; granted, I live in the only state in the U.S.A. where it's legal (California).

  • FS

    I have had instances here in California where some ass-hats try and accelerate out into their lanes so that you can't merge into them after lane-splitting at a traffic light. although given the circumstances having a bike has its acceleration advantages. it's just i really hate people pulling that crap.

  • LeMec

    It's legal in Switzerland as long as the traffic is rolling slowly and you're allowed to overtake. As far as I'm concerned as a car driver, I don't give a shit about getting filtered, and as a twowheelsrider, I do filtering. I just don't see the problem about being passed by a two wheeled vehicle, really not. But I had my experiences on my bike as well, so I might say Assholes all over the Planet – aaarrhhggh…

  • Braaaatt….

    … yeeah man, I know what you mean. The Maddox Pulsejet Bobber will do it, I'll get one of these.

  • brant

    In New York City, while not legally legit, filtering happens by anything and everything on 2 wheels. Given that most of the non gas powered 2 wheel vehicles are often going in the opposite direction of the traffic flow and do not generally follow traffic signals or signs drivers are good about keeping their eyes open so filtering is pretty safe for scooters and motorcycles. For the city, filtering saves a ton of time and is one of the main reasons to have a 2 wheeled vehicle.

  • XRSteve

    Another from Kalifornia. It's a mixed bag here in the Bay Area.
    Most people don't react, some give me more room, but there's always one or two people that'll try to close the gap on me. I just take that into account before hand.

    Occasionally though, you'll come across some asshat that thinks they're the truck driver from Duel.

  • drek

    As a bicyclist, lane splitting and getting to the head of a stopped group of cars–ideally to travel past the red light, is all normal and should be encouraged as a part of riding defensively and safely. (Running lights in dense areas allows you to stay in "dead zones" that crop up between groups of traffic.)

    On a motorcycle, I feel more of a compulsion to a) take my space of lane and b) respect other motorists right to the same. My little cb125 is nimble and small enough to squeeze through cars at many instances, and if traffic is unduly stopped–say for another motorist waiting to make a left on a moderately used road–it's safer and more effective than just waiting for an opening in the next lane. Swarming to the front of a red light just doesn't make any sense. You can't run the red, and unless you want to disregard speed limits and just launch the bike you're not gaining any more sense of speed or flow towards your destination. Getting to the front of a stopped light also means pulling the bike past the painted line and into the path allotted for pedestrians–which is rude and unfair to them. And to somebody who is stopped immediately behind you and is waiting to make a right hand turn–you've effectively cut them off.

    Just because someone can doesn't always mean they should. That sort of selfish behavior only encourages others to do the same. From there, it's a slippery slope to a traffic pattern and culture as chaotic as those in Third World cities, places where human life–your life–doesn't mean a goddamned thing to somebody who is just trying to get somewhere as fast as possible.

    I say this as US citizen, living in Baltimore, a city where Illegal drivers and riders are a serious problem. We have kids riding dirtbikes in city streets with no regard to anything. In fact, last year a boy was hit after running a red light. The driver, who stopped and called 911, was ambushed and stabbed.

  • If WA or OR states pass it, it'll be awhile before the cagers accept/understand it like the more bike-friendly Californians

  • bok

    In NYC, as brant have said, It is Illegal but everyone does it anyway. I've done it on the queensboro bridge and brooklyn bridge overtaking cop cars and they didn't even blink an eye. Although you can't say the same for other drivers, I once got threatened by this douche on a huge SUV, literally shouted after rolling down his window that he'll run me over if I overtake him, I just smiled and proceeded overtaking him and heard him revving his engine, after I've past 2 more cars down. You just need to be careful with the cagers.

  • Here in rainy Orygun, I really wish it were legal and I would love to do it…. However, the Gubmint would probably have to do a massive education and enforcement campaign for it to work (if even THAT would work). As it sits now, there are too many dumb @sses that would road rage and try to run you over with their bloated SUVs or just outright shoot you.But it sure is tempting, especially when stuck behind a row of the aforementioned lumbering SUVs all going 10 mph under in both lanes (and taking a good minute or two to get up to speed, I swear) 😛

  • The M6 motorway in the UK is nearly always at a standstill once I head south towards Manchester or the Midlands so I always filter. I once "filtered for over 30 miles during a bank holiday weekend in August. I did have a scary moment once. I was making steady progress between two lines of stationary traffic when the door of a lorry opened and the driver jumped down onto the motorway right in front of me! That guy musta filled his pants as I "filtered" past his left arm attempting a high five as I passed him – lol 🙂

  • Tom

    I do it when there is an accident mostly to save my clutch and left hand. Never really had any problems except for one time a guy in a pick up swerved at me. I wanted to stop and knock his teeth out, do you really think wrecking a guy on a bike is going to get you home faster? I guess my revenge was moving through traffic while he sat parked on I-95 in Ft. Lauderdale.

  • Lincoln

    Sydney.

    I do it when I feel it will save me some time, and there is room for me to so without being a nuisance. I probably cut 15 minutes off my trip to work every day. I've done it right past cop cars, but I've been pulled over and seen bikes being pulled over for travelling in the shoulder, so I avoid riding in the shoulder unless there isn't another option, or there is a 'scout' bike ahead of me! 😀

    Our esteemed Pipeburn editor will remember the imense traffic jam on the freeway north out of Sydney on a friday arvo a few months back, where the freeway was blocked for 12 hours or something. I lane-split for nearly 25km and cut a 5hr trip down to 2hrs.

  • I can' imagine riding in a clogged city without filtering, it's one of the reasons i got a bike. Here i don't know if it's illegal or not but i never got stopped doing it. And yes i filtered police cars too.
    Bucharest, capital of Romania.

  • OUTTACONTROLLA

    Filter ! it's the only way .(British)
    As a country that queues for everything , filtering is deemed ok !
    Would you guys sit in a 20mile traffic jam ? No way Jose , we used to filter at 100mph when the traffic was doing 70mph (up the M3 to the ace !)
    In Daytona for speed week we were told not to filter by helpfull Ducati guys , we of course waved as we passed them sat there .
    After all , no filtering = may as well have a car .
    #59

  • DM

    I lane split almost every single time, even if the traffic is moving. If a car is plodding along at the same speed as hit fellow tintop in the lane next to him, I will split em and go on my way. It's usually an easy enough thing to do, but I consider myself P.D.LINDY. Pure Dumb Luck I'm Not Dead Yet.

  • Deogratias

    I filter regularly, because I live in Auckland (NZ) and the peak hour traffic is hell. I do it pretty carefully and if the lights turn green before I reach the front of the queue I stop because people here like to make lane changes without indicating.
    Sometimes people get angsty but usually not, cops don't care basically. I'm careful because gaps are narrow and my bar end mirrors would make nice gouges in car paintwork.

    The last bike accident I saw was caused by a guy on a GSXR 600 shooting up the centreline then slicing through a gap in the traffic to reach a bus lane on the other side of the road. Of course the guy in the Merc didn't expect a bike to come up the MIDDLE of the road and cut in front of him so as he edged forward at about 5kmh he clipped the bike which was doing about 20. Bike smashed into the kerb and rolled up onto the footpath, smashed apart all his fairings, headlight and indicators and copped a nice dent in the tank. Stupidly enough he was wearing jeans and gloves so he nicely ripped the skin off his palms and knees and wrote off his helmet. Ride like a squid, crash like a squid.

  • It's legal in the UK, and in fact encouraged during both my lessons on the bike and I filtered during my test.
    It isn't legal, however, to undertake… filtering through traffic which is moving at speed, i.e. on a motorway.

    Living in London, I will filter at most opportunities, and regularly overtake, unless the road isn't very wide.

  • Pascal

    In Cape Town, I used to filter at any and every opportunity on my Vespa. I never once had aggro from drivers or the popo, or perhaps I was just oblivious to it.

    Now that I live in Perth, Western Australia, and ride a motorbike, I'm a little more careful about filtering. Most drivers are probably fine, but enough of them have 'the rage' that I am selective about when and where to filter to.

    I'll avoid filtering up next to V8s, 4x4s or P-platers, who all seem to have a need to prove something. I've only had a few incidents, but there were enough to convince me that I'm more likely to encounter sociopaths on the road than anywhere else. These hate-filled individuals can't seem to see that if I filter, I'm in fact taking up less space on the road, and therefore they will get to where ever they are going quicker than if I queued up like them.

    My main motivation for upgrading to a faster bike was to have more acceleration from the lights, so that I can get out of Dodge as quick as possible if I've been filtering.

  • AG

    It's illegal to split lanes here in Nevada (USA), but in California it's acceptable. On the infrequent occassions that I venture into that state, I'll do it if traffice is at a total standstill, but frankly it freaks me out when they're moving.

  • I pretty much split at every opportunity now out of habit after long distance commuting everyday for years. Most days commuting I would do 30+ miles of solid lane splitting. I have my own "rules" that I live by though. Those rules are: know the road you are on; know those weird spots on certain roads where cagers act very unpredictably time and time again; don't split over 55mph; don't split through intersections while traffic is moving; don't split more than 20mph faster than traffic; stop splitting when you get that weird feeling (undefinable sense of imminent danger – rare); avoid splitting between lanes other than #1 and #2 lanes. Practice makes it safer is all I can say. Knowing your limits, your bike, your handling and braking capabilities is essential. In 50,000 miles of everyday commuting, I've been down once. Count on it happening and split in such a way that you mitigate the risk some. Oh, and the white line is a lane too! So keep track of who's behind you and pull over for the guys who are splitting faster than you. Nothing pisses me off more than a dude on a hog splitting at walking speed who refuses to move out of the way.
    Here in the SF Bay Area, you can get in queue of 5 to 6 motorcycles between the number 1 and 2 lanes.

  • Forgot to say:
    From California.

    And: Might as well be in a car if you're not lane splitting in Cali!

  • Matt B.

    I only do it when I absolutely have to. In the great state of New York, here in the U.S., they make it very clear that it is illegal to split lane's and, the State Troupers are very prejudice against motorcyles these days. The last thing you want to do is give them a blatant reason to pull you over. Plus I ride mostly on country back roads where there isn't much traffic or police so I don't get into those situations often. I do pass cars a lot when the oposite lane is clear, it's just fun sometimes.

  • Cab

    It's illegal in Florida and will get you a ticket and a harsh lecture. Be prepared to shit yourself because they like to approach you with drawn weapon. Something about the criminal element in South Florida riding crotch rockets. LOL

  • KIK

    in puerto rico filtering was legal until about 3 years ago when a politician was involved in a motorcycle accident and nearly everithing became "illegal"

  • Chris

    Here in Germany it is not legal… but nobody cares and the car drivers normally tolerate bikers who do lane split and filter.
    I know many bikers here as well who don't have a problem with this. Every time when there is a red traffic light, i move my ass to the pole position…and on our highways when there is a traffic jam and its above 30°C, i usually fight my way through the lanes.

    But i experienced in France that the car drivers are so kind to passing you, in Germany the cars hardly make space for you, that sucks so much. ;(

  • Kasino

    Sydney.

    I think it's blurred line in regards to legality, and even though I do it, I'm leaning more towards it being illegal. When you break it right down the only way to filter in stationary traffic is to overtake a car in it's lane (which is illegal), or move into the next lane which is occupied (also illegal since there would be a stationary car there) and riding on the centre line is also not legal as far as i know. Apparently cops can also issue a fine for every single stationary car you pass, but they'd have to be having a bad day to do so. This is what I picked up from my research when I was learning. Having said all that, I filter when the time is right, I have bar end mirrors so the space has to be decent.

    I've also had two incidences when filtering, One was pulling up to the front and having my foot run over.. Some woman fumbling with her winny blues took off fast, having said that, if you're going to move to the front it's your duty to beat the cagers, I wasn't paying enough attention this time and paid the price..

    The other occasion involved me pulling in front of a van, I couldn't make it to the front cause the gaps weren't big enough. The guy in the van proceeded to keep his hand on his horn as we took off. I had a garbage truck in front of me and had no idea what the hell he was doing at the time. I turn around to him to shrug as if 'i cant going any faster, there is a giant truck there'. He wound his window down screaming about cutting in line etc etc. He kept going and i started giving it back, he got out of his van came over and hit my helmet. I got off my bike and he returned to his van. I filtered away leaving him stuck in Monday morning traffic.

  • Terry B.

    In California the Highway Patrol offers classes to help riders get their motorcycle license. In the class they state that splitting lanes is a gray area. It's not illegal but some officers can easily interpret it as unsafe passing. Be cautious and courteous.

  • mingh

    I commute regularly on the bike. Splitting is not illegal in belgium but as mentioned, they're trying to clarify the situation a bit. Personally when a traffic jam pops up, i find it safest to first slow down with traffic, because most divers switch lanes when they see a jam coming. Once the speed is stabilized again, i speed up, not more than +40 of cager speeds. I also split lanes when traffic on the highway slows down to, say, 80km/h or less. It's safe to split when the cars in the lanes are next to each other, they won't suddenly switch lanes and drive into their neighbouring car will they?
    Most people don't mind. You'd reckon that cagers are used to it on the busier roads, but most of them don't pay any attention. This usually gives a hairy situation or two during rush hour when some cagers think they're making up a lot of time by impulsively switching lanes every kilometre without looking in their mirrors.
    thet said, in all those years, i've only heard of 1 motorcycle accident on the highways, and that wasn't during rush hours. Most of us bikers get killed on B roads during the weekend.

  • baader

    Here in finland lane splitting is not only illegal but it will get you ticket if police sees it. Cagers don´t mind it.
    Then again, we rarely have the kind of traffic that splitting is necessary anyways.

  • NATE

    I am a san diego (california – u.s.) local. it's legal to lane split there. I moved to arizona to go to motorcycle tech school and you cant split lanes here and it drives me insane. It's funny… I had a guy in san diego see me in his side view mirror in his car while I was splitting up to the front of a red light and he actually cranked his steering wheel of his car and pulled in front of me in an attempt to barricade me. I also had a guy start revving the crap out of his 4 cylinder toyota corrolla and giving me the finger and refused to look at me all the while he was doing this. maybe they were from out of state and didn't realize it's legal their, I don't know. either way… is it really worth all that?

  • Angus Barclay

    Laws on lane splitting, as it is known here in New Zealand, are contradictory. It may be illegal, and people have been nabbed by the police for doing it but most cops will tolerate it if you're not going too much faster than the traffic. I do it most days on the way to work on a wee Honda scooter, past stationary and slow-moving traffic. About once a year some asshole in his air conditioned cocoon takes offence but most drivers are OK with it. When I used to ride a motorbike to work, other drivers seemed to be less tolerant. I guess their own attitudes towards "bikers" are a bit harsher than their views of the nice non-threatening people on scooters.

  • _dan

    Philadelphia PA, USA

    Its not legal in PA and to be honest I don't feel comfortable doing it with how horrible many drivers are here. Too often you see people swerving while they are texting or messing with make-up. I have done it in traffic down the shoulder and have been yelled at numerous times, but with having an air-cooled machine I refuse to sit and shut off my motor, it isn't safe. I live a few blocks from Center City and I have just learned which roads to take and which times to ride; I truly enjoy riding at night, less cars and open roads. Ride safe!

  • Filter all the time. If the traffic drops 10 mph below the speed I want to go I'm passing it. Doesn't matter if that's at 20mph in town or 70+ on the roads.
    Cuts so much time off my commute. Most of the time people move over, not had anyone try and block me for ages. Some people get shirty and I got told off by the cops for filtering on a roundabout at 40mph. Just an advisory that the other traffic wouldn't be expecting it.
    Got to keep your wits about you in the dark though and watch for that car wheel starting to move to swap lanes.

  • Oh and if I come up behind a bike that is filtering slowly, I'll pass them too. One rule for all.

  • joey g

    I live in southern CA just off PCH I filter as often as I can with no complaints.
    The pictures of the guy rearended by the texting soccer mom has prompted me to get to the front of the stopped traffic and hopefully out of her way.

  • Raúl Vicente

    People who use cars in crowded cities are begging to get stuck in traffic. Filtering is the only way not to go insane (with the inherent dangers and proper good sense and a bit of luck to compensate).

  • Iain

    Don't mind filtering at all, just shouldn't be done at speed, especially when the traffic is moving. I'm on the M6 southbound in Staffordshire quite often, when the traffic is solid but moving at 40mph with plenty of drivers switching lanes and lorries all about the place, it is hard to keep an eye out for bikers doing 70.

  • Gerardo Isler

    In my country ( everything is legal until you get caught ) filtering is a national sport and many bike owners cut their handles in order to pass between the cars but ,sometimes rearview mirrors are broken; just try to get them in a traffic jam is imposible and potentially dangerous. If ever one biker is hit by a car in a matter of seconds, really, many others bikers arrived and blocked the driver until the police arrived or a monetary arrangement is made otherwise they won´t let him go. Personally I was blocked once by one driver who ,as I could see in his face ,did it with the intention of put me down (unsuccessfully) but all that he got was my boot on his driver door and nice bump.But that was in Venezuela and now I´m living in Switzerland where almost everything is forbidden. Conclusion: why to buy a bike if you have to do the line, in my case I will pass anything, police or not that is stopped or slow moving as far as I rest prudent and avoid to get sandwiched. Remember speed is fun but fun can kill you, be careful and enjoy.

  • RennyRacer

    not to beat a dead horse but thought all you lane splitters might like this one. the ultimate in filtering!

  • Gerardo Isler

    I just remember that one day a friend of mine was in first row at a traffic light that was not working when a distracted driver hit his bike rear wheel hard enough to get them rolled and hit the policeman that was controling the traffic and no matters his explanations he didn't want to believe him and get ticketed. Is there a safe place to be when riding a bike?

  • Daoud09

    Here in France it is absolutly verboten to filter. But…. it all depends on the cops mood at the time. If done at slow speed and with care it is usually overlokked. Except in Paris where the boys in blue take great pleasure in catching filterers. They have even been known to sand bag bikers by filtering themselves and then moustraping the bikers that follow them. So be it. Rules are made to be broken. Especially stupid rules.

  • Jimmy O

    Another Californian here. It's legal and I do it regularly, but only when traffic is stopped or moving very slowly. I don't think it's about being selfish as others have said. We don't take up as much space as a car, and can maneuver in between them safely, so it does actually help traffic flow more freely. So really it benefits everyone when done safely. Most drivers here in Los Angeles are used to and will give more room or ignore me. Once in awhile there are a-holes who get mad, but since when is that news.

    What makes me mad is when I see other guys on bikes (usually sport bikes – sorry) flying in between cars at high speed. That is NOT safe and I think it's very stupid regardless of how experienced and awesome of a rider you think you are. There's just no way to anticipate what cagers are going to do at that speed and that little room to maneuver. In that case you are endangering everyone around you and are a big part of the reason why some cagers get so upset, even when they see people doing it safely.

  • Chuck Norris

    When Chuck Norris filters through traffic its not him who goes forward its the cars that go back.

    Chuck Norris's bike dosest run on petrol it runs on kick ass.

  • Jon Callihan

    I don't at all. Of course, I painted a self portrait from which I had a shirt printed, called "Orthodox Coward".

  • Here in italy it's not clear if it's legal or not…. but who cares? The police? I personally saw and followed police bikes between either stationary and moving traffic…

  • Anto

    I live in Brisbane and I also choose filtering times carefully. A few months back I was honked by a purple commodore. I stopped, looked at him them continued to the front. for the rest of my trip home I took the back streets because there are more corners and less traffic. Just where the main road meets the back streets the commodore came at me head on in my lane as if to play chicken then pulled over and jumped out ready to fight.

    thats what you have to deal with sometimes. not fun at all

  • Douglas

    I usually filtered when i'm riding. It is LEGAL in Indonesia as long as we don't move our bike out of the path.

  • Will

    From what I was informed in the RTA course, you are referring to two different things.

    1) Filtering = moving between stationary traffic (not using the breakdown lanes)
    2) Lane Splitting = moving between moving traffic.

    Filtering was legal, lane splitting was not. That was how the RTA trainer explained it…

  • Dave in Kalifornia

    Here, in San Diego, it is not only accepted, but it is (seemingly) encouraged by cagers. Most cars are so polite to bikes, that they actually change lanes away from you, and/or leave a little space when they see you. Lane-splitting (lane-sharing, as it's officially called) has been legal in Cali for years. Main reason: when bikes were air-cooled, the powers-that-be realized that with the notorious traffic, bikes would quickly overheat- creating additional clogs, and road-hazards. Having lived in many states over the years, I have to remark that California is the most bike-friendly state, as far as laws are concerned. Education of 'regular' drivers seems to help as well. Most other states, the 'average driver' doesn't give two-squats for bikes.

  • Brian L.

    After living in living in Norco and commuting to Costa Mesa on the 91 and 55 I don't think I could have survived without lane splitting.

    I ended up doing some research and creating a documentary on lane splitting as a school project. http://www

  • billetproofcustoms

    I live in Texas, There's no WAY I would attempt to lane split in Texas, You will either get a car door opened in front of you, or something thrown out the window at you, or run down at the next light, etc, etc…Cagers generally disregard motorcycles in pretty much every Texas city I've been in. 9 motorcycle fatalities this year alone in just my city alone. (unfortunately) All involved cars.

  • Rafe

    In Belgium it is legal since a short while.
    I do filter when circumstances allow it.
    I do run into cagers that feel it is necessary to slam the brakes and block my way.
    Then again, that is nothing new and cagers seem to be very creative in finding ways to ruin my day.

  • brendon NZ

    In NZ it is legal to lane split provided the vehicles you pass are stationary or slow moving and you remain within the lane. Do it fast and you will get busted for careless or even dangerous driving. ref road user rules at legislation.govt.nz

  • ratchetface

    I'd like to offer an idea for an interesting future poll – traffic related as well.

    When your motorcycle is at a stop in traffic, are the vehicles that pull up behind you usually…

    A. 2 to 5 inches away.
    B. 6 to 9 inches away.
    C. 10 to 13 inches away.
    D. 14 to 17 inches away.

  • rich steixner

    It is illegal here in NY. Someone mentioned that they do not lane split because their "time is not more valuable than anyone elses."

    Well, another way to look at it is that the less time I spend stuck in stop and go traffic, the less fuel I burn and the less pollution I cause.

    So it is almost irresponsible to NOT filter, as you are sitting there burning fossil fuel for nothing when you could be burning fossil fuel more efficiently, by using it to MOVE you forward.

  • Zenbiker

    Anyone ever spend time riding in Vietnam? Everybody and everyone filters! Good or bad, that's up for debate but one thing is for certain, if you don't filter here, you don't don't move.

    Zenbiker, Vietnam

  • Danop

    I don't even know if it's legal in Bangkok where I live. But I can assure you EVERYONE here filters!
    It's almost a sin not to. Most drivers would rather have you (bikers) in front of the pack waiting at the light and be gone the very instance the light turns green than to have you flanking them, looking down, peeping into their car or fearing if you might drop your bike on their car or bumping off their side mirrors.

    For fellow bikers, if you chose to stop for red in the middle of the lane as cars and US bikers do without making any afford to filer or prying your way forward towards the light, they'll likely honk at you or tell you to move out of their way.

  • manray

    i live in madrid, spain, sometimes cars they don,t let you pass, but in general motorbikes we always get through the line of the red light , and we usually race to see who acelerates better, then we have to get through cars once more and you see there who is the best rider or most crazy one !

  • Ashveen

    I'm from Mauritius and I don't really know if it is illegal or not but i do it whenever i get the occasion and most of the time I do pass by police cars as well… and same as u wrote in your story, they didn't even raise an eyebrow… which tells me am not doing anything illegal? On another occasion i faced a situation where there was a terrible jam and all cars were stuck… and of course, we bikes could 'filter'… and i reached a place where i wasn't sure if I could go or not, and there was a cop nearby… i asked him if i could go and he said to me that two wheelers go anywhere and everywhere… 😛

  • mike

    Just about to come of my 'P's here in Sydney and whilst doing the rider training for both the intial 'L' and the 'P' plates both insturctors told us that lane splitting was ILLEGAL – – cetainly in NSW anyway.

  • thom

    sorry everyone, but a lesson to us all!!!………………..


    a recent event in Hong Kong

  • YannisB

    I allmost allways filter, in Greece is considered very ok to filter and nobody complains.

  • DougT

    A short while after I moved to San Francisco I was crossing the bay bridge. Traffic was heavy and I was splitting. Only one car tried to stop me, and I couldn't pass him. Another bike came up behind me, and I thought I would give it one more try to get by this car, going around wasn't working either. I decided to let the bike behind me try, and saw it was CHP. The car didn't realize it in time and tried to get him, too. Reds and blues started flashing and his commute got a lot longer.
    I'd love to see someone make a video like this of splitting in NorCal. I do a lot of commuting to SF, about 30+ miles. It is exhausting when it's splitting the whole way. You definitely need to watch your attitude. If your not paying attention you will get bit hard. There is a big difference between freeway and local splitting. After doing it for so long now, I think sitting in traffic is much more dangerous.
    I think loud pipe are a mixed blessing. I had a BMW for a short while and nobody moved as you went by. They didn't hear you. With the Harley, they either swing out of the way or creep into your way.

  • Dominic

    I live in London and used to be a despatch rider, spending up to 12 hours a day on the bike in London traffic. Hardly ever had any problems either from other drivers or the police. I have also ridden in France, again no probs, get where you want to go as quick as you can by through whatever gaps are there just like everyone else on two wheels. You'd look like like an idiot if you just waited in line like a car!

    I have also ridden a lot in India and contrary to what Drek says about 'third world countries' and there being no respect for life and limb, I'd have to say that while it appears completely chaotic it is relaxed and good-natured chaos that becomes a rythm you adapt to. I didn't have spill or even a close shave or even see an accident whilst living there. Cars drive faster than bikes there, 30mph is fast for a bike and much over that feels very unsafe just because of the cows, pigs, dogs, other road users or pedestrians who might just pop into your path at any time. I did run over a goat once but it survived ok.

    You certainly wouldn't get jacked whilst calling the police as he describes in his city. India feels very safe and I have never felt even vaguely threatened. I recommend a trip to India to anyone who hasn't been there, and more than that, getting a bike whilst there.

  • Daveyboy

    It is illegal in many states in the US including MA where I live.
    I do it anyway at red lights and non-moving traffic as I think it's safer for me to be at the head of the line (and much nicer too!)

    I've had plenty of negative reactions, but it's all about riding like EVERYONE is out to kill you 😉

  • ex copper

    "Just about to come of my 'P's here in Sydney and whilst doing the rider training for both the intial 'L' and the 'P' plates both insturctors told us that lane splitting was ILLEGAL – – cetainly in NSW anyway"

    Technically there is no punishment for filtering through traffic, though there is if you share the lane with another motorcycle, oh and obviously driving like a d***head. As many have stated, its grey, and nobody really cares in the end unless the rider is acting like a dangerous turd.

    As a rider, id rather lane split, than sit behind a stopped car and wait for that P plater in a RAV4 to rear end me, or to have a taxi run up the back of me again. nearly 2 tonnes of worn out falcon up the anus doesn't feel too good.

  • Speedin’ Doug

    I live in Maryland and I build all my bikes to what i think would be suited perfect for "filtering". I always thought that was what a motorcycle was for. I never look at those vintage motorcycle photos and get the feeling those guys arent going slow at all. I do it as much as a possibly can and as fast as I can

  • Vyraz

    first off, i would like to apologize for posting on an old thread, but i found this interesting.

    I'm from malaysia, and here, it is like the total opposite of what you experienced, bikes here HAVE to filter otherwise contribute to the already bad jams on the roads. i had once chose not to filter as my wife was driving my car and i was just tailing her. while she was in a jam, i was behind her waiting so not to block the other bikers from moving forward. i got horned, stared down, laughed at and so on.. and it is wierd because in actual fact (if i remember correctly) in driving/riding school, even bikes are not encouraged to filter and are thought that you need to be a car lengths gap from the back of the vehicle

  • Bruno Teixeira

    i'm amazed with this discussion, cuz here, in Brazil, we don't even think that "lane splitting" or "andar no corredor" is wrong, cars drivers tend to leave some space between left and middle line to motobikes.
    this sometimes gets extreame, when rearviews mirrors gets crashed…

    ps: amazing blog!!! i'm a fan

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  • Orders

    I got pulled over for lane splitting peak hour traffic in Qld. Let me off with a $60 fine and no loss of points. He also said he could have also got me $120 fine and 3 points for being beside a car in the same lane. and $40 and 1 point for every time i danced over the lane lines without indicating. Can be expensive when you get caught. 

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