As legal motorcycle lane filtering turns 2, few know about it

What’s the effect of a new law if most people don’t know about it? For Mike Schroeder, it meant getting spit on during his evening commute home. 

It happened this summer when Schroeder, the general manager of Grizzly Harley-Davidson in Missoula, was riding his motorcycle home from work. Traffic ahead was stopped near an intersection. Schroeder, a lifelong rider, eased his motorcycle between lanes of stopped vehicles to reach the front of the line. An incensed driver spat on him. 

Schroeder’s maneuver, known as lane filtering or lane splitting, was legalized in Montana two years ago, when the Legislature passed Senate Bill 9. It took effect on Oct. 1, 2021. For lane filtering in Montana, vehicle traffic must be stopped or crawling along at 10 mph or slower. In that case, and only if there’s room to do so, SB 9 allows motorcyclists to overtake and pass traffic at up to 20 mph.

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But almost two years later, most Montanans — particularly drivers who don’t also ride motorcycles — remain unaware of the change, according to motorcycle advocates and law enforcement agencies. 

Schroeder is on a mission to change that.

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