The B.C. Coalition of Motorcyclists is calling on the province’s political parties to support legalizing “lane filtering,” a practice that would allow motorcyclists to drive between lanes of cars when traffic is moving slowly.
And it isn’t as rare as you might think.
In California the practice of lane splitting, which is extremely similar, went unchallenged for years before being officially legalized in 2017.
Advocates for the legalization of lane splitting say it’s actually safer, as it increases motorcyclists’ visibility and reduces the chance of being rear-ended by impatient or distracted drivers.
But it’s still a controversial topic, even among motorcyclists.
In an interview with Steele and Drex, Coalition Operations Manager Tara Borgstrom said many people are divided on the practice.
“Even in our membership, we have people who say ‘No I will never do this, it’s not safe’ and then we have the other side of the coin where people say they do it already.”
LISTEN: Tara Borgstrom talks lane filtering with Steele & Drex
However, legalization of the practice would come with a few qualifiers.
Borgstrom says the Coalition is only advocating for lane filtering in traffic of 30 kilometres an hour or slower, with motorcyclists only being allowed to drive up to 10 kilometres faster.
She says this support is based on empirical evidence, namely a 2015 study from UC Berkeley.
“Basically the key finding was that lane splitting or filtering is considered safe if it’s done at slow speeds.”
Even still, Borgstrom believes legalizing the practice wouldn’t be an overnight process.
“It would be a huge public awareness campaign that would probably take years to implement. It would be something they would have to put into new driver training for new car drivers and motorcyclists alike.”
And it seems that’s a prospect too daunting for the provincial government.
In response to the Coalition’s requests, the B.C. Ministry of Transportation has stated they are not currently looking into the legalization of lane filtering.
So for now, it seems that motorcyclists will be stuck in traffic with the rest of us.