Lane-splitting has just been banned in France. Unfortunately, this decision has been met with furor by riders all over the country.
Over the weekend of February 20, 2021, thousands of riders formed massive convoys and even blocked several roads in protest of the new ruling. The resulting gathering and traffic were posted to social media under the hashtag #MotardsEnColere (#AngryBikers).
The decision to ban lane-splitting came after the results of a five-year lane-splitting observational study. For the study, certain roads explicitly allowed lane splitting. Researchers saw an approximately 12 percent increase in crashes related to lane-splitting over that five-year period.
As a result, the government decided to take a harsh stance, banning lane-splitting in the entire country, taking effect February 1, 2021. Violators face a fine of €135 (approximately PhP8,005), as well as three points on their licenses.
Twenty days after the ban went into effect, French riders took to the streets in cities all over the country, including Paris, Lille, Toulouse, and Lyon to protest. The protest was organized by motorcycle group Federation Française des Motards en Colère. News outlets estimate the number of bikers gathered to be between 8,000 – 10,000.
Before the new law was passed, lane-splitting was not officially legal (like in the Philippines), but it was broadly tolerated and was not punished. Riders could usually get away with carefully splitting. Now, however, with explicit fines and punishments, riders fear a crackdown.
CEREMA, the organization that conducted the study, suggested that further research is needed to make the practice safer. Despite that disclaimer, the French government decided to enact the ban. The riders hope that their protests will convince lawmakers to reconsider the lane-splitting ban.