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Bikers barred from riding between lanes as French trial ends

Five-year trial in 11 departments concludes practice of allowing motorbikes to travel in gaps between lanes of vehicles is unsafe - but another experiment could begin soon

Motorcyclists in 11 French departments will again be barred from driving between two lanes of vehicles from February 1, after a five-year trial comes to an end.

The trial - which began on February 1, 2016, and involved some 3,000km of roads in Ile-de-France, Bouches-du-Rhône, Gironde, and the Rhône - has  concluded that the relatively common practice of motorbikes travelling in the gaps between two lanes of cars on dual carriageways is unsafe and should not be written into France's highway code.

The Centre d’études et d’expertises sur les risques, l’environnement, la mobilité et l’aménagement (CEREMA), which led the studies has reportedly told the in inter-ministerial delegation on road safety that the number of accidents involving two-wheeled vehicles rose 12% on roads taking part in the trial in which the practice was permitted, and fell by 10% on other routes in the same departments.

A total 16 fatal accidents involving motorcyclists were recorded in the trial zone over its five-year period. As a result, the report concludes its findings, "do not make it possible to integrate ... inter-lane traffic in the highway code".

Read more: What changes for drivers in France in 2021

As a result, motorcyclists caught performing such manoeuvres on these routes could face a €135 fine and the loss of three points from their licence, in line with riders in other parts of the country.

It has been suggested that the experiment may be repeated in other departments. Road Safety Representative, Marie Gautier-Melleray has asked for "a new experiment, with adapted rules, in order to perpetuate this practice in complete safety".

This second experiment, which would require a new decree, could include "the enlargement of the geographical areas concerned, and appropriate and continuous communication to improve the education of all road users on the subject".

In the meantime, motorcyclists are officially not allowed to travel between two lanes of vehicles.

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