Colorado motorcycles can legally leapfrog traffic soon – with a catch

A new Colorado state law lets motorcycles pass through gridlocked traffic.

It’s called “lane filtering,” and it takes effect Aug. 7.

But there’s a small yet vital difference between lane filtering and illegal “lane splitting.”

“Lane splitting is prohibited in Colorado, and it is the act of operating a motorcycle between two rows of moving traffic or stopped traffic traveling in the same direction,” Colorado State Patrol says in a press release. “It typically involves riding the motorcycle down the painted line dividing the lanes on either side.”

Lane filtering, which takes effect Aug. 7, “is the act of passing a vehicle going in the same direction only when the vehicle is at a complete stop.”

CSP says it’s all about the flow of traffic. Lane filtering will be most common at stop lights or in gridlocked traffic. It lets motorcyclists legally navigate toward the front of the line, avoiding being sandwiched between two vehicles.

A few more pointers from CSP:

  1. The vehicles a rider wants to pass must be at a complete stop.
  2. The lane must be wide enough to fit the vehicle and motorcycle while passing.
  3. The motorcycle must go 15 mph or less.
  4. The rider must pass safely and control the motorcycle. 
  5. The rider must pass on the left and not enter the oncoming traffic lane.

We’re thinking No. 2 is most likely to cause trouble. It restricts motorcycles from passing dozens of cars on the shoulder of a multi-lane road, like I-70, or passing over the solid yellow line of a two-lane highway, like Highway 9 through Blue River.