Is Lane Splitting Legal for Michigan Motorcycle Riders?
The further north I drove on my move up to Michigan, the more helmetless motorcycle riders I saw. Y'all are brave. Motorcycle riders are built differently up here, for better or worse.
In that same vein, seemingly every time I drive in Detroit, the wildest driver I've ever encountered is replaced with a new one. Sometimes, these are motorcyclists. We're all going entirely way too fast on I-94 and then someone on a typical "crotch-rocket" motorbike squeezes through to make a pass that has to spike his adrenaline to new heights and my anxiety to a level not often assisted by a secondary party.
There are some motorcycle laws that intrigue me. Though I don't know anyone personally that drives a motorcycle, I did have a relative when I was very young who suffered a severe injury on one. We weren't particularly close, but it does kind of stick in my mind to be aware of motorcycles and to give them the space and attention they need to be safe on the roads.
What better way to keep those on two wheels safe than to know what rules they are playing by while sharing the roads with us? We'll get to some other motorcycle laws here in a bit, but first, let's answer the question at hand - Is lane splitting legal in Michigan?
For those who may be unfamiliar with the term, lane splitting is the technical term for riders who are moving while the traffic around them is also moving, as described by J.D. Power. Here's an example:
This isn't to be confused with filtering, which is pretty close to the video above. Filtering is moving between stopped vehicles to reach the front of a stopped intersection to avoid being sandwiched between vehicles in a vulnerable situation.
Either way, that's stressful. But is lane splitting legal in Michigan?
No it's not, according to the Michigan Vehicle Code Section 257.660 (5):
(5) A person operating a motorcycle, moped, low-speed vehicle, electric personal assistive mobility device, or electric skateboard shall not pass between lines of traffic, but may pass on the left of traffic moving in his or her direction in the case of a 2-way street or on the left or right of traffic in the case of a 1-way street, in an unoccupied lane.
But that's not as unsurprising as you may think. Lane splitting is legal in five states: Arizona, California, Hawai'i, Montana and Utah. The practice is unregulated specifically in 11 states and Washington D.C. Lane Splitting is illegal in the rest of the country, including the Mitten State.
There is research that suggests lane-splitting is safer for motorcycle riders, which leads to petitions such as this one to legalize it in the many states it's illegal, such as Michigan.
While the first thought of lane splitting is 100+ mph crotch rockets weaving through the interstate, that's not always the case. Riders use it as a means of safety for themselves as with filtering. Plus, the need to balance the bike in stop-and-go traffic is avoided, keeping the rider from experiencing unnecessary fatigue and burning unnecessary gas. There are some other trivial benefits that speak to the perks of a bike over a car, but those pale in comparison to the safety benefits.
Let's check out some other laws and regulations to keep Michigan riders safe.