Lane Splitting in Ontario

Discussion in 'Regional Forums' started by lost1, Apr 22, 2004.

  1. lost1

    lost1 Adventurer

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2003
    Oddometer:
    60
    Ok, so I have moved to Toronto from BC and can't believe the traffic, so in my wisdom I thought that maybe there is an easier way. Remembering my good rides throughout the rest of the world I thought I would ask the police if it is ok to share lanes with other traffic. Commonly known (everywhere else) as lane splitting. I looked in the Riders Handbook and it was mentioned that they don't recommend it or something like that. I wanted to know if it was legal, so I contacted the Ontario Police Traffic Patrol by phone and was told that it was not illegal, as long as there are 2 clearly defined lanes. He also mentioned that if I caused an accident doing so, I would be held responsible.
    I wanted this in writing, so I wrote to Traffic Safety Programs OPP:

    I hope that this can answer your questions, for information purchase a Highway Traffic Act so you can read in detail the sections and the regulations that applies.

    1. Can a Motorcycle ride between two traffic lanes?
    - section 130 HTA Careless Driving, without due care and attention or without reasonable consideration for other drivers.
    - section 154(1)(a) HTA Fail to Drive in Marked Lane. a vehicle shall be driven as nearly as may be practicable entirely within a single lane and shall not be moved from the lane until the driver has first ascertained that the movement can be made with safety.

    2- Is there a minimum space between vehicles?
    -section 158(1) HTA Follow Too Closely, not follow more closely than is reasonable and prudent for having due regard for the speed of the vehicle and the traffic on and the conditions of the highway.
    - Have you seen the painted chevrons on the 401 in Pickering? That is designed to give you a minimum 2 second following distance at the set speed limit.

    3. Speed limit?
    - section 128 HTA sets out the speed limits. driver training can tell you that a safe passing speed of another motor vehicle is about 20km/h and a parked vehicle is 40km/h.

    4. Danger zones?
    - section 148 HTA, numerous subsections discuss passing meeting vehicles and overtaking vehicles.
    - unsafe areas, curves, uphill, railway crossing, bridges.

    Another good source of info would be to go the MTO and get the new drivers hand book. The rules of the road are clearly outlined. Also try Young Drivers of Canada or any other driving school they might have more information

    I hope this has been useful, any other questions please contact me.

    MR J Bloggs
    Traffic Safety Programs


    SO I AM STILL WONDERING, CAN I LANE SPLIT? DOES ANYONE KNOW ANYMORE ABOUT THIS? TRAFFIC IN TORONTO IS RIDICULOUS
    #1
  2. Shazam*

    Shazam* Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2002
    Oddometer:
    774
    Location:
    Toronto, Canada
    I have asked a few cops, and the answer has always been no.
    So I think the best you can hope for is pissed off cops.
    Where do you live and where are you riding? (I assume you are talking commutes?)
    I live down on King West and ride to Unionville/Markham daily for work.
    Spend a lot of time on the Don Valley Parkway.
    Personally, I would not trust the drivers around here enough to split.
    Too many random lane changes.

    p.s. What sort of bike are you on?
    #2
  3. lost1

    lost1 Adventurer

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2003
    Oddometer:
    60
    Funny, I did contact the Officer Resp for Traffic safety and he clearly stated that it was not illegal. I even gave him specific examples and he said it was ok. I live downtown, but find myself on occasion on the Don Valley Parkinglot. Really, I just don't want to boilover during the summer months when I am trying to get out of this city for a ride in the country. Getting stuck in the Cottage Country traffic is painful. I have been experimenting with lane splitting downtown, and haven't been stopped yet...
    I should try and get my hands on the Motor Vehicle Act or whatever that legal gibberish is.
    I think the police are trying to protect us from other idiot drivers, and that is why the said no to you, as the potential for an accident or altercation (think road rage) is there.
    BTW I ride a 2001 KTM Adventure 640
    #3
    whambamthankyoumam likes this.
  4. bawa

    bawa Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2002
    Oddometer:
    65
    Location:
    Oakville, Ontario.
    When I moved to Toronto, this was the first thing I checked and the answer I got was its illegal to lane-split. I commute from Oakville to Markham twice a week - lane spliting would save me a lot of time! I believe the motorcycle riders handbook clearly states its illegal.
    #4
  5. lost1

    lost1 Adventurer

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2003
    Oddometer:
    60
    Funny, I really don't remember reading anywhere in the MC handbook suggesting that Lane Splitting was illegal. I am telling you contact the OPP and lets do a survey. I need to know.

    Lost 1
    #5
  6. Rusty_H

    Rusty_H no title needed

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2003
    Oddometer:
    1,028
    Location:
    Metter, GA
    simple, just dont do it in front of a cop,
    #6
  7. Shazam*

    Shazam* Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2002
    Oddometer:
    774
    Location:
    Toronto, Canada
    oddly, I just found a copy of the Ont Motorcycle Handbook
    Page 48 goes on for some length as to why it is a bad idea.
    Doesn't specifically say it is illegal, but then it doesn't specifically say running reds is illegal either.
    #7
  8. Commuter Boy

    Commuter Boy Long timer

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2003
    Oddometer:
    3,272
    Location:
    Burnaby, BC
    He said it's not illegal, because there's no one has bothered to put
    a law in the book that says "motorcycles can't lane split."

    This thoughful civil servant, however, has provided you with a list of
    several of the many ways "the Man" can use his discretion to
    charge you with.

    Given that his discretion can include the fact he didn't get laid last
    night or that he feels you need to be taught a lesson for your
    own safety, I'd be damn careful about choosing where and when.

    I've never got a ticket for lane splitting in BC, but I've got lots of
    warnings. Every time, once the officer ascertained I was a
    sensible sort of person, and experienced in doing it in Cali and
    Europe they told me "Ok, it's not you I'm worried about, it's the
    Canadian driver who either doesn't expect you there or gets
    pissed and decides to take you out."
    #8
  9. Rockwell

    Rockwell Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2008
    Oddometer:
    677
    Location:
    Ontario
    While driving at low speeds in traffic jams on the highway, it never fails that at least one jerk-wad gives me the finger, the f-bomb or tries to cut me off while I lane-split. Meanwhile, they're driving solo in a car that could fit five, taking up road space and causing the congestion. See ya ass-hole!

    http://www.revzilla.com/common-trea...&utm_term=uc-berkeley-study-on-lane-splitting
    #9
  10. Perthite

    Perthite roo waker upper

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2014
    Oddometer:
    763
    Location:
    Perth WA
    screw the law jus do it!
    #10
  11. Rockwell

    Rockwell Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2008
    Oddometer:
    677
    Location:
    Ontario
    I do. It's just that people get really angry, and almost violent when I do. Maybe they feel that I should have to wait in the traffic jam that they helped create. I have two people on a motorcycle, and a single driver is taking up 8x the road space.
    #11
  12. GasDepot

    GasDepot Sold the Cage

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2005
    Oddometer:
    273
    Location:
    San Rafael, CA
    I live near San Francisco and split all the time.
    #1 I pretend I am invisible, the cager will say they did not see you
    #2 A cage usualy won't merge into another cage but watch out for gaps that open as cage will suddenly switch lanes to get ahead
    #3 When someone else splitting pulls up behind me I move over to let them pass and don't follow to close as you are extra invisible behind another bike
    #4 Have not been pulled over by the "Man" but the reason I would give is it is safer and easyer to avoid a side swipe than being rear ended
    #5 Aggression is needed but don't be stupid

    It is fun to get by the idiots in there cages
    GD
    #12
  13. TE 450 Pilot

    TE 450 Pilot Bike Collector

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2011
    Oddometer:
    158
    Location:
    Ontario
    I wait my turn. I figure if I want the cage drivers respect I should give them the same.

    I have seen guys lane splitting and have also seen cars try to hit the guy. If you want to take your chances good luck if it winds up in court .
    #13
  14. Rockwell

    Rockwell Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2008
    Oddometer:
    677
    Location:
    Ontario
    Except I don't see it as waiting my turn. Due to the largely reduced size of a motorcycle, a rider can safely split lanes and not have to wait in traffic that has been caused by a large volume of drivers who ride solo in a vehicle that takes up the lane space of 4 motorcycle riders. When I ride with my girlfriend on the back and lane-split, my road-space per person ratio is 8 times less than a person driving home in his car or truck. These are usually the people who try to cut us off, give us the bird or scream at us.

    There are special driving privileges for high-occupancy-vehicles (the HOV lane). I see lane-splitting as my HOV lane for taking up much less space. The Europeans seem to see it this way, but that is a place where people on two wheels are generally respected. Ontario is not.
    #14
  15. TE 450 Pilot

    TE 450 Pilot Bike Collector

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2011
    Oddometer:
    158
    Location:
    Ontario
    So using your thought process a car can say you don't need the whole lane and come up beside you or run you into the curb, I mean the bike does not need a whole lane to them self. All it takes is one car to see it as you cutting in and you can argue from the hospital. I just don't trust cars that much.
    #15
  16. Rockwell

    Rockwell Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2008
    Oddometer:
    677
    Location:
    Ontario
    No. My thought process and lane splitting don't involve running anyone off the road. I lane-split only in slow, congested traffic. It's very safe and reasonable do to so, and it doesn't involve cutting anyone off. If it's reasonable and safe, I do it, regardless of what some asshole in a car thinks I should do.
    #16
  17. ThirdUncle

    ThirdUncle Often vertical

    Joined:
    May 11, 2010
    Oddometer:
    195
    Location:
    Toronto
    I've taken my F800GS across North America and have ridden motorcycles in Aussie, Indonesia, Thailand and Western Samoa. I have lane-split in these places and have seen that it can work in some but not all; Ontario or anywhere else with long winters and bike-averse drivers, I think not so well.

    Drivers forget to look for motorcyclists after a long winter of not seeing us. Unless governments invest in intensive ad/PR campaigns each spring reminding drivers to watch for us, to let us lane-split and to generally tolerate us on the roads more than they do now, lane-splitting will remain a death-welcoming pursuit.

    There's also the problem of discourteous and maniacal motorcyclists that see us all tarred with the one brush. It makes other motorists automatically resent us. This is a problem in Toronto where gangs of knuckleheads race superbikes on streets and highways, driving like assholes, loud pipes startling unsuspecting drivers. Harleys can be a bit of that too. Dualsporters seem a bit less aggro, though I'll admit to being a notch or two below angelic.

    That's Ontario. In LA, where I went last spring, one day I rode the beast from a friend's in Hollywood Hills to another friend's place in Laguna Beach via several Interstate hwys. On returning that afternoon, I forgot about rush hour and found myself in an apocalyptic traffic jam heading back up to LA. Unlike here in Toronto, they let bikes use HOV lanes there, and that helped -- till it slowed down, too. I clocked that bikes were lane-splitting between the HOV and left lanes and opted to give it a shot. I pulled in between the line of unmoving cars in the left lane and the line of cars doing 25mph in the HOV lanes and was doing about 50mph. Drivers were pretty courteous and tolerant and I was content enough. But when I checked my rearview and saw a line of 5-6 bikes behind me, locals used to doing 70+ with only a foot or two on each side, I was too chickenshit to commit to that intensity level. I'd pull over and let 'em pass. So theirs is a pretty good system -- though I'll admit that by the time I got back to Hollywood I needed 5 bourbons just to get my cinched up shoulders back to standard setting again. But LA has no winter, tons of bikes, and a pretty mellow and aware drivers' culture.

    In this town, people in cars become psycho by the fact of being people in cars. They are insulated from the outside and thus feel safe, entitled and selfish -- esp those big BMW and Audi yoga trucks. In a gridlocked mess like Toronto, add in a film of simmering anger that's easily provoked into full-on bonkers, and, well, lane-splitting is always gonna be dicey. All made worse in recent years, as people don't much signal lane changes or shoulder-check any more.

    I've had drivers honk and offer digital salutes when I did quick lane-splits, like cutting between a few parked cars in the right lane and idling cars in the left to get through. I would not think of doing this on the highway. In Ontario, at least, that's the preserve of the squid.
    #17
  18. o*o

    o*o Adventurer

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2011
    Oddometer:
    80
    Location:
    Ushuaia Argentina, Deadhorse, AK & points between.
    I've split or filtered safely for many years in California and in the last 5 years in over 15 countries traveling 100K+ miles including a bit in Canada...

    Only do so when safe and never beyond your comfort & ability. This decision must be made for each driver you pass. :deal Don't allow anyone to trap you. Remember you are not 'cutting in line' but getting out of line so it moves quicker. :clap Never delay cars behind you, low mass allows for acceleration.

    Learn to know what drivers are thinking. :huh This is a skill which some can learn. I know when room increases if the driver is doing me a favor, daydreaming or texting. Watch the line of cars as you approach and the driver's mirror before alongside. Say excuse me and thank you when they can hear. Wave thanks (when safe) for any minor courtesy a vehicle shows. :wave

    Technically it is not illegal in 'most' US states but outside California you are likely to get a ticket incorrectly for unsafe passing, speeding, not signaling or some obscure passage of their vehicle code. Many officers do not understand it can increase safety at times and helps the flow of traffic. For example in the hot sun it is safer to scoot up 3 cars for shade during a 7 minute train crossing in helmet and full safety gear. Point to the shade and smile but I often sit and sweat where required. :knary

    I have seen bikes get pinched behind a stopped vehicle when others can't stop in time. It is therefore safer to stop where you cannot be hit or to the side of their bumper 'in case'. :yikes When I scoot to the front of a line I have that line between me and moving vehicles. The NHTSA points out 40% of traffic accidents are rear-end collisions. That is 2.5 million rear end collisions a year! :kurt

    Ride safe above all and avoid spooking in others. :super
    #18
  19. CanadianX

    CanadianX Oh!? That is deep.

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2010
    Oddometer:
    2,580
    Location:
    New Brunswick
    Problem is attitude of drivers who see driving as a competition and get stressed at the idea of someone gaining a length ahead of them or not suffering the same delay. If we could change the attitude so there is more courtesy (goes far deeper then just driving) then it may be a safe practice. Until then your one road raging soccer mom away from eating a guard rail.
    #19
  20. RandomGRK

    RandomGRK Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2013
    Oddometer:
    69
    Location:
    Philadelphia, PA
    Ok, let's at least all agree and differentiate the two because it seems most people use the terms interchangeably.

    Lane splitting - riding between cars at high speeds on roads or highways.

    Filtering - when cars are stopped or traffic is stop and go and you slowly and carefully filter to front of a traffic light or through bumper to bumper traffic on the highway.

    I'm originally from South Africa where it is legal to split and filter thus we just simply call it lane splitting. The reason we need to differentiate is because I fully support filtering but lane splitting as I have described is ridiculous and dangerous.

    I live in Philadelphia and I will filter when needed, never to impede another's progress but when it is safe to do and does not impact anyone else. If the cops pull me over, I will explain why I do it and plead ignorance, apologise, accept the ticket if it does come and reassess
    #20