Two years ago, MotoPinas.com published an article that found lane-splitting and lane filtering is actually ILLEGAL in the country as per existing traffic laws. While the authorities have currently turned a blind eye to the issue, it doesn't change its legality.

To be clear, lane splitting is riding a motorcycle between lanes or rows of slow moving or stopped traffic moving in the same direction. It is sometimes called whitelining, or stripe-riding. This allows riders to save time, bypassing traffic congestion, and may also be safer than stopping behind stationary vehicles.

Filtering or filtering forward describes moving through traffic that is stopped, such as at a red traffic light. Lane splitting means riding between two lanes of vehicles, while filtering can also refer to using space on the outside edge of same-direction traffic

As riders ourselves, we're all for legalizing lane splitting and filtering, but is there a proper way to do it?

The California Highway Patrol (more popularly known here as CHiPs, a hit 80's TV series recently remade into a movie) has recently published a tip sheet that recommends the right way to split lanes. Many believe that lane-splitting has been allowed in California for decades, yet it was only in 2016 that it was formally legalized. Other US states are also looking to legalize it soon.

The tip sheet is addressed to both riders and drivers to encourage safe lane-splitting practices, especially for the motorcycle riders.

For motorcycle riders:

  • Consider the total environment when you are lane splitting. This includes the width of lanes, the size of surrounding vehicles and current roadway, weather and lighting conditions.

  • The danger increases at higher speed differentials (the difference between the speed of the motorcyclist and that of nearby vehicles).

  • The danger increases as overall speed increases.

  • Keep speeds under 25 km/h (15 mph) faster than traffic when lane splitting or filtering. (e.g. lane split at a maximum of 30 km/h if traffic is traveling at 5 km/h)
  • It is typically safer to split between the far left lanes than in other lanes of traffic.

  • Avoid lane splitting next to large vehicles (big rigs, buses, motorhomes, etc.).

  • Riding on the shoulder is illegal and is not considered lane splitting.

  • Be visible. Avoid remaining in the blind spots of other vehicles or lingering between vehicles.

  • Help drivers see you by wearing brightly colored/reflective protective gear and using high beams during daylight. 

For cars:

  • Intentionally blocking or impeding a motorcyclist is illegal.

  • Opening a vehicle door to impede a motorcyclist is illegal.

  • Drivers in the far left lane should move to the left of their lane to give motorcyclists ample room to pass. 

For cars and motorcycles:

  • Check mirrors and blind spots, especially before changing lanes or turning.

  • Signal your intentions before changing lanes or merging with traffic.

  • Be alert and anticipate possible movements by other motorists.

  • Never ride or drive while impaired by drugs, alcohol or fatigue.

  • Be courteous and share the road.

Is it high time for the Philippines to legalize lane-splitting/ filtering? image

In the Philippines

As we mentioned above, in the Philippine setting, lane splitting and filtering is currently illegal. To help corale motorcycles along busy thoroughfares, the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) has created motorcycle lanes, to encourage motorcycles to stay in one lane. Unfortunately, in reality, and with vehicles allowed to enter this lane, they're not that safe for riders.

As motorcycle riders, we all know that lane lane-splitting and filtering is safer for us riders, as it greatly reduces the risk of being rammed from behind, or sideswiped by a vehicle that does not see the motorcycle. Lane-splitting and filtering also makes efficient use of road space by allowing motorcycles to get ahead of traffic through the gaps in between lanes, and leaving other cars to fill up the gaps that would have otherwise been taken up by motorcycles. It's economical, particularly for short distance motorcycle commutes. Those traveling short distances with few passengers will be encouraged to take motorcycles that take up less spess and spend less time and fuel on the road.

Finally, there are several studies that have found lane splitting and filtering to be more beneficial rather than detrimental to traffic.

Is it high time we legalize lane splitting and filtering? We think so, but let's agree that if this freedom were to be granted, there should be legal limits as well.