Last week, Utah’s governor gave the go-ahead to allow motorcycles to ride between cars, signing House Bill 149 (sponsored by Rep. Walt Brooks) into law.
The new rules will allow motorcycles to ride between cars on roads with a speed limit of 45 mph or less. The road must have at least two lanes going in one direction, and motorcyclists must keep speeds at 15 mph or less while riding between cars. Riders are not allowed to pass moving traffic; they can only pass stopped cars.
So, it’s not full-on lanesplitting (moving between cars on the road under any condition). Utah calls it “lane filtering,” which lines up with the usual definition of filtering (moving between stopped vehicles towards the front of the line of traffic).
While some form of lanesplitting or filtering is practiced basically everywhere in the world, it’s illegal in almost all of North America. California has allowed the practice for years, and last summer Hawaii also passed a bill allowing motorcyclists to pass congested traffic on the road’s shoulder. Otherwise, the rest of the US and all of Canada has an official or unofficial ban on the practice.
There’s definitely interest in change on this subject, as Utah has actually tried to pass this sort of law before, in 2017; legislators have kept up the pressure, which is why we’re seeing filtering legalized now. We’re seeing similar attempts to legalize filtering in Oregon, Maryland and Connecticut this year. Several other states have seen moves to legalize lanesplitting in the past few years, as tarffic congestion becomes a growing problem. In Canada, the city of Toronto is also looking at a pilot project legalizing lane-splitting on a couple of city streets, to see if it could become an effective tool in reducing gridlock. Finally, could lanesplitting/filtering be an idea whose time has come?