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Toronto considers allowing motorcycle lane filtering – is the practice safe?

The City of Toronto is considering a proposal to allow motorcyclists to move between lanes of traffic while stopped at red lights, a practice known as “lane filtering.” Advocates of the proposal believe it will reduce congestion and improve safety among motorcyclists; however, from a motorcycle accident lawyer’s point of view, it has the potential to complicate already dangerous riding conditions.

Michel Mersereau, a senior instructor for The Rider Training Institute who helped draft the proposal, described the project as such, according to Global News:

“Lane filtering, basically what we are looking at is a pilot project around Richmond and Adelaide streets which represents the highest motorcycle collision zone in the city and this would allow motorcyclists at a red light to filter up between a row of stopped cars to the stop line and proceed through the intersection once the light turns green.”

Lane filtering should not be confused with “lane splitting,” wherein motorcyclists navigate between moving vehicles.

Proponents say that lane filtering protects motorcyclists from a major safety concern: being rear-ended by drivers in intersections. Toronto Councilor Anthony Perruzza, who brought forward the motion and is a motorcyclist himself, said lane filtering puts riders “in a much safer place because they’re ahead of the cars and they’re not just sitting in a lane looking behind them to see someone in a vehicle looking at their phone or being distracted.”

Lane filtering is legal and popular in cities around the world, including in California where it helps address significant congestion concerns. However, the practice has a long history in these jurisdictions, meaning drivers are used to keeping an eye open for lane filtering motorcyclists. In Toronto, a widespread awareness campaign would be necessary to reduce injuries.

“All of a sudden this motorcyclist appears next to you and the car beside you, so it’s not something you can just implement overnight,” a spokeswoman for the Canadian Motorcycle Association told Global.

As any motorcycle accident lawyer in Ontario can attest, motorcyclists are already more susceptible to serious traffic injuries than most drivers on the road. Lane filtering might have benefits, but it shouldn’t be implemented until the risks are identified and soberly considered.

If you or a member of your family has suffered an injury in a motorcycle accident, contact Will Davidson LLP to speak with an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer today. Our team can help you understand your legal options and provide guidance on your road to recovery.


Image credit: Roland Dobbins/Wikimedia Commons

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