There is nothing more frustrating for a motorcyclist than being stuck in stationary or slow moving traffic, especially when there is ample room either against the shoulder or between lanes to safely filter to the front of the queue.
Sadly in the US lane filtering (or splitting) is only legal in California, and even the splitting rules for the Californians largely recommend something closer to filtering.
Every motorcyclist probably has a different view of what’s safe – no matter what the outcome it’s always your fault – I personally err on the side of caution and would be happy to see it only allowed if traffic is moving at less than 25 mph and the motorcycle was allowed to go no more than 20 mph above the speed of the queue. Riders need to consider many factors – not just the size of their bike and the size of the gap!
Statistics from Europe on motorcycle accidents have shown a 2.8% chance of harm coming to a stationary motorcycle in traffic but it drops to a 0.4% chance when riders can filter forward. So not only does it help create more space on the road for motorists it actually keeps the rider safer.
In the UK for instance where filtering has been legal for a long time there is still a component of education required both for motorcylists and other road users. This is acute for more recent adopters like NSW, Australia but even in California drivers need reminding. When a motorist isn’t expecting it or believes it not to be legal they are more likely to be surprised and less likely to consider the presence of a bike in these situations.
I would love to see a consistent policy rolled out across States (both in the US and a similar initiative in Australia) but for now local regions set their own rules so the situation isn’t going to always be clear. In the meantime, it’s worth a letter to those making the rules to see if they can find their way clear to helping us keeping the roads moving…