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Lane Filtering Study has ‘Shock’ Results

Accidents increase 12%, says study

Lane filtering in France

A French risk-assessment study has released a shock finding that a five-year lane-splitting trial caused a 12% increase in motorcycle crashes, so they have not legalised filtering.

The French Centre for Studies and Expertise on Risks, Environment, Mobility and Planning (CEREMA) studied 11 regions where lane splitting has been trialled for five years.Lane filtering in France

It found that motorcycle accidents increased 12% in those areas in that time and that while riders were less likely to be rear ended, there was an increase in motorbikes running into the backs of other vehicles.

This is a concern as previous studies have shown filtering through traffic can significantly reduce the risk of riders being rear ended.

However, don’t get too alarmed just yet that the authorities will seize on this study to take back our hard-won filtering laws in Australia.

We should point out that motorcycle usage and the number of motorcycles lane splitting increased in France during the trial, which may account for some of the increase in crashes.Lane filtering in France

We are also not sure whether the severity of the crashes increased or decreased.

The study also found that driver behaviour toward riders improved as filtering made drivers more aware of the presence of riders on the road.

The trial has now ended and lane splitting is again illegal, copping a 135 Euros fine and 3 points on your licence.

A spokesperson for the Fédération Française des Motards en Colère (French Federation of Angry Bikers, according to Google) told us they now want another trial across more zones “to obtain enough results for deciding”. 

“Obviously we hope they’ll decide to legalise, but who knows?” they said.

“As we know that this practise is efficient for everyone’s benefits, we will make such actions in France next Saturday, demanding the CIF (circulation inter file) be legalised.”

The FFMC helped set up the filtering guidelines as shown in this video (it’s in French).

If they do reinstate filtering, perhaps they should follow Australia’s strict guidelines on speed caps and other rules designed to protect the rider and other road users from dangerous situations.

  1. Sounds to me like many don’t understand the difference between lane-splitting and filtering……

      1. Hi Tim,
        The terms are interchangeable in some countries, but filtering in Australia is riding slowly (30km/h max) through stationary or slow-moving traffic, while splitting (in the USA) is referred to as riding at higher speeds through moving traffic.

  2. As a rider of close on to 50 yrs,in my opinion the issues with lane filtering is the speed that a lot of riders chose to filter at and the other thing is the distance you see some riders filtering over. I think it is far safer (if illegal) to use the break down lane or edge of the road. Most drivers seem to expect a bike to come through from there and not the down the center.

  3. As a rider for more than 50 years I think lane filtering is 99% of the time stupid and unnecessary. If you’re in that big of a hurry to get somewhere, leave earlier or find another way. Not only is it dangerous, cagers aren’t expecting you, can and do get spooked–especially if they are distracted to begin with. Plus, you make other motorcyclists look like assholes being tarred with the same brush. Even if it is legal, discretion is advised.

  4. A rider from almost 50 years (I had my first bike at 9), born, raised and living in downtown Paris for over 45 years, you can bet I was very interested in the experiment.
    It was prompted from an observation : riders were lane filtering for years. Within the Paris region, it was so common, to the point that most of the car drivers were used to give room to the bikes driving trhough the traffic.

    Unfortunately, this experiment was pleagued from the start by a huge problem: many of the riders within Paris and it’s suburb do not respect these rules. Wether they are young riders enjoying their bike’s pwer, or former car drivers exhilarated by their new « freedom » on their scooters. Add on that a bunch of youngsters claiming there rejction of any rule, especially on the roads and streets, and you’ll understand why very few respected the terms of the experiment, however very clear:
    – Only between the two most left lanes.
    – Not over 50 km/H (roughly 30 MPH). Meaining that when the flow was over this speed, the bikes were supposed to remain inthe lines.

    Whether riding or driving, I very seldom see bikers respecting these regulations. If ever…
    This explains why the results of the study are very difficult to analyse.

    We can only hope a round of new exeprimentations on different zones may prove more efficient. But it seems very difficult to get people to respect rules when they had been used to do whatever they like… This is why I’m afraid that, whatever the efforts from the FFMC, we’ll sooner or later have a drop of these « curtesy » and a strict enforcement of the standard rules.
    I hope the futur wil lprove me wrong ?

  5. It works great in Los Angeles, and lane-splitting, as it is called here kept me safer on the road during my 8 year tenure as a motorcycle messenger there.
    It has to done properly, though. There are many wrong ways to do it, and those who do, become a statistic, and ruin it for the rest of us.

  6. Greg is right. Splitting is riding between moving traffic and filtering is between stopped traffic. Lane splitting is the dangerous one.

  7. Can anyone link me up with the ACTUAL study? Something is definitely sus. Was there a traffic baseline set in each of the 10 departments BEFORE the trial? How did each of the departments track for motorcycle crashes of all kinds and of the specific type of concern before and during the trial? What were the motorcycle exposure figures BEFORE and DURING the trial? Was there anything about traffic on those trial roads that changed? Did motorcycle exposure or traffic volumes reduce in the “control” department? |

    In Melbourne, the Hoddle street buslane sharing trial was almost shutdown due to worrying increase in motorcycle crashes. The data looked damning. Shutting it down seemed to the favoured outcome of the road authority department in charge of the trial. But drilling into the data found that the books had been cooked. They glossed over the fact that there was one particular location that registered a significant increase in crashes for all traffic modes, not just bikes, which skewed the result. They also included some bike crashes that were outside the trial times, which further skewed the results. Over the years of advocacy and diving deep into the motorcycle safety reports/research/data, I’ve learned NEVER rely on the headline s it oftentimes reflects the bias of the report or its authors than a clear outcome of the data.

  8. Filtering isn’t legal here in Vancouver BC but many of us still do it cause traffic is insane and it’s better for everyone if, during stopped and extremely slow moving traffic, we go down the middle or up the side at no more than 10km/h faster than the rest of traffic. Lane-splitting is a different story, that’s driving between cars, usually much quicker than would be even remotely safe, that makes us all look bad!

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