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Colorado’s New Lane Filtering Law

May 15, 2024
In The News Motorcycles

Lane filtering in Colorado

There’s been a big development for Colorado traffic law: the passing of a bill that will allow lane filtering in Colorado, effective Aug 7, 2024. This is an important subject because it affects ALL MOTORISTS, not just motorcycle riders.

 The new law will make it legal for motorcyclists to move between lanes of vehicles in stopped traffic. That means, if traffic has completely come to a stop, two-wheeled motorcycle riders can move between vehicles at a slow speed of 15 mph or less. The lanes of the road must be wide enough to pass safely, and the conditions must be good enough to permit prudent handling of the motorcycle.

Additionally, motorcycle riders are not permitted to filter on the right shoulder, or on the right side of a vehicle in the furthermost right lane if the highway is not limited access.

 Riders cannot filter between cars in motion, ever, or if any traffic is oncoming (like on a yellow line).

Lane Filtering Is NOT the Same as Lane Splitting in Colorado

Downtown Denver stoplight

Lane filtering must not be confused with lane splitting. Lane splitting occurs when motorcycles ride between cars that are moving. That is not legal in Colorado, and violators should be penalized.

 There’s been a lot of buzz about Colorado legalizing lane splitting and it’s really bothering me! Even people I respect in the motorcycle community are calling it the wrong thing, and that’s simply not true. Stop it!

 Why is this happening at all?

 The primary reason is so that riders can get out of the way of traffic coming up behind them, which is, statistically, far more dangerous than lane filtering. The research by the California Highway Patrol also says, “Other benefits of lane filtering include a reduction in traffic congestion, and, accordingly, fuel consumption and emissions from all vehicles, and reduction in overheating in air-cooled motorcycles.”

Car drivers – this isn’t bad news for you and this law can benefit you as well. I encourage you to not look at this as “something motorcyclists are getting away with.” Motorcycles are able to accelerate faster than cars, so if riders are legally filtering in stacked traffic, they are getting out of the way for you faster too.  

 Note that this is a trial run and the law is slated for repeal after three years time. Before the repeal, the Colorado Department of Transportation will collect safety data on the bill and issue a report to the general assembly. They will be largely focused on the effect the law has on rear-end collisions and side-swipe collisions, naturally.

 If it doesn’t prove to benefit motorists, or if it’s abused and turns into increased lane splitting, then it will be no more.

 Since the news, and seeing the public response, I’m worried this will cause problems; however, it can also be seen as a win for the motorcycle community, and an opportunity to demonstrate a new way of sharing the road between cars and motorcycles.

 At The O’Sullivan Law Firm safety on the road is our number one concern, so let’s hope this helps.

 That said, if you want to watch my somewhat heated rant on the new law, head over to YouTube.


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