France Figured Out Something Essential About Lane Filtering, but It Took Them Awhile

Two motorcyclists on the side of the road 7 photos
Photo: GEM Motoring Assist
Team GB BMX Star Declan Brooks Passes Motorcycle TestTeam GB BMX Star Declan Brooks Passes Motorcycle TestTeam GB BMX Star Declan Brooks Passes Motorcycle TestTeam GB BMX Star Declan Brooks Passes Motorcycle TestTeam GB BMX Star Declan Brooks Passes Motorcycle TestTeam GB BMX Star Declan Brooks Passes Motorcycle Test
After five years of observation, a short ban, and then starting a new study, France is moving forward with lane filtering, but in a peculiar way. It is not banned and not entirely encouraged, but it involves changing what learner riders are taught when they get through driving school.
The idea is that France will continue its study on the positive and negative effects of lane filtering, also referred to as lane splitting, until 2024. The earlier study on the matter ended back in 2021, followed by a short-lived ban on lane filtering, which was met by protests from the country's motorcycling community.

Fortunately, the study was resumed, and the ban was ended. It is not clear where the French want to get when they finish their observational study. Mind you, if you want to lane filter in France, you should know that it is only permissible on certain roads in some counties and cities. So, riders are not encouraged to lane split everywhere.

The best part of it all was the fact that A1 and A2-class riding students will have to be taught by their instructors on the when and the how of lane filtering, as Moto Station notes. While it does not make lane filtering legal, it goes to show that authorities want to make it safer for new riders, who will already be trained how to do it by their instructors.

It is important to underline that there is no official guide on lane splitting or an officially sanctioned list of best practices. In contrast, when lane splitting was tested in California, the authorities had prepared a list of suggestions. However, it is critical to note that lane splitting, or lane filtering, is not permitted in 47 U.S. states if our information is correct.

There are many countries where lane splitting is not banned, which leads it to happen as riders see fit. Unfortunately, it does involve the fact that each rider must learn to do it safely or suffer the consequences.

Because of the new strategy, France has the potential to have a generation of riders that will be better trained than their predecessors. Moreover, if the riders are trained by their corresponding instructors in safe lane filtering, they will have better conduct when doing so.

In other words, it will be more likely that those riders will help demonstrate the effectiveness of safe and legal lane splitting. With that in mind, the country should have better-trained motorcyclists on its roads in a couple of months.

Team GB BMX Star Declan Brooks Passes Motorcycle Test
Photo: Suzuki Motorcycles UK division
In time, France's strategy may pay off, but it depends on the level of skill of each rider, as well as the level of training they will receive in their rider training school. In any case, it is clear that there is a chance for things to improve, instead of just leaving things as they are and just playing the same old record with "speed kills."

Yes, speeding increases the risk of an accident. So does having poorly trained drivers on your roads. Road safety cannot be improved if a country has poor-quality roads.

Most accidents can be simply placed into the “human error” category, but it is (or it should be) the responsibility of each country's legislators to be sure that people who get their driver's licenses there are taught everything they should know about operating a vehicle in a safe and efficient manner.

From there, it still is everyone's responsibility to improve the way they drive, and this is at another level when motorcyclists are concerned. Riding on two wheels makes one more exposed to danger, but the risk can be reduced through careful driving.

Lane filtering can be safe if caution is exercised. From personal experience, I can tell you that realizing that you risk breaking your bones, paralysis, or death will make most, if not all, riders careful.
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Editor's note: For illustration purposes, the photo gallery includes images of people riding motorcycles.

About the author: Sebastian Toma
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Sebastian's love for cars began at a young age. Little did he know that a career would emerge from this passion (and that it would not, sadly, involve being a professional racecar driver). In over fourteen years, he got behind the wheel of several hundred vehicles and in the offices of the most important car publications in his homeland.
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