Motorists beware: Lane filtering is coming as legislature allows motorcycles to thread needle

The Utah Legislature in its recent session passed HB 149, a law that allows motorcycle riders to drive between two lanes of traffic in order to “filter” through stopped vehicles.

The Riderz Foundation, an organization dedicated to raising motorcycle safety awareness, in a statement sent out Monday designed to educate the motoring public of the change, said lane filtering is not the same as lane splitting, which some media outlets have wrongly claimed is the case, according to spokesperson Elvecia Ramos.

This illustration offers examples of when lane filtering is and is not a legal maneuver. Graphic courtesy of the Riderz Foundation

To put it simply, the key difference is traffic can still be moving when lane splitting. Lane filtering allows the motorcyclist to use the same lane the motorist is in.

The law, according to the foundation, allows motorcyclists to move up between vehicles to the front of stopped traffic.

Lane filtering will undoubtedly surprise many motorists once it goes into effect May 14, according to a report from the Utah Department of Public Safety, but it can only be done under specific circumstances, such as when the motorcyclist is on a road with at least two traffic lanes headed in the same direction, the speed limit is 45 mph or under, the vehicle being overtaken is stopped, and the maneuver can be performed safely. The motorcyclist can’t exceed 15 mph when lane filtering.

Riders do not have to lane filter, but Ramos said the purpose of the law is to reduce congestion and help to prevent motorcyclists getting rear-ended. Then again, the DPS noted that lane filtering can “present unique safety challenges for riders – especially inexperienced ones.”