A trial allowing motorbikes and scooters to practise lane filtering was extended yesterday (August 2) to 21 departments in France – instead of the 11 expected – for three years.
Lane filtering allows motorbikes to advance past stationary vehicles by driving in between them while they are waiting in traffic queues.
The practice has been reintroduced in all eight departments in Ile-de-France, as well as Alpes-Maritimes, Bouches-du-Rhône, Drôme, Haute-Garonne, Gironde, Hérault, Isère, Loire-Atlantique, Nord, Pyrénées-Orientales, Rhône, Var and Vaucluse.
The new rules apply to two and three-wheel motorised vehicles travelling on motorways and dual highways, where speed limits are 70kph or higher.
Zones where lane filtering is allowed will be marked with roadside signs and on traffic apps such as Waze.
Motorbikes are not allowed to force their way between vehicles when lane filtering, and must take their place inside lanes when traffic is circulating normally.
New rules for motorbike riders
The previous ‘ban’, introduced in January 2021, meant that motorbikes had to wait in lines of queueing traffic like any other vehicle.
The ‘ban’, which followed another five-year trial, was more a confirmation that lane filtering should remain illegal in France as it has never been legally permitted outside of trials to investigate its use.
Under the new trial, motorbike riders will be allowed to drive between stationary cars, where permitted, with some conditions.
From August 2, lane filtering is allowed as long as motorbikes travel between the farthest-left lanes and do not travel over 30kph faster than the vehicles they are passing.
For example, if cars around a motorbike are travelling at 10kph, the motorbike could pass between them at a maximum speed of 40kph. Motorbikes cannot exceed a maximum speed of 50kph while lane filtering.
Previous trial ‘limited’ in scope
The previous five-year trial found that motorbike accidents increased by 12% in roads where lane filtering was allowed.
In a press release, French road safety agency la Sécurité routière said that the trial also indicated some positive results from road filtering such as a general improvement in respecting lane filtering speed limits among motorbike users, and widespread acceptance of the practice by other road users.
It added that the first study was “limited” in scope, and that more information was needed.
Marie Gautier-Melleray, inter-ministerial delegate for road safety, told AFP the new trial would “try to find methods to make the practice safer for two-wheel vehicles and other road users.”