Toronto, Canada, may soon become the next place in North America to allow lane splitting. Toronto’s city council recently approved a motion that could allow motorcycles to lane filter between lanes.

Lane filtering allows motorcycles to move between lanes to get to the line when traffic is stopped at a controlled intersection. It’s not quite lane splitting, but it’s a start.

It’s not quite the lane-splitting experience that my colleagues in California have long enjoyed; the proposal would only allow filtering when traffic is stopped, allowing motorcycles to move up to the stop line. But it’s a step.

The committee will prepare a pilot project to test lane sharing for final approval by city council. The motion already establishes the framework for the pilot project: it will be implemented along two streets that run through the downtown core, and it would only allow filtering between lanes of traffic but not along the curb. The goal is to minimize the risk of front or rear collisions while improving the flow of traffic.

I’m personally quite familiar with the two streets in the proposed trial. Richmond St. and Adelaide St. are a pair of heavily-congested one-way streets that run parallel through the city and also happen to be my route to and from the office each day. And as much as I welcome any progress toward legalizing lane splitting (even in the more limited form of lane filtering in stopped traffic), I don’t hold much faith in Toronto drivers being aware of the trial or understanding the specifics of it. The city has had separated bike lanes also running as a trial along these two streets for a few years now, and I still see several examples of cars parked in the bike path or illegally turning in front of cyclists on a daily basis. There will be growing pains, but as I said, it’s a step.

A row of bikes parked across the street from the Toronto office of MO’s parent company, VerticalScope. One of the proposed lane filtering streets runs through that intersection in the background.

The lane filtering proposal was joined by some other motorcycle-friendly ideas approved by the city. Toronto will also look at expanding the number of dedicated motorcycle parking zones (plus stronger enforcement against cars parked in those zones) and permitting motorcycles to use more reserved HOV lanes. The motion, which was approved 33-4 with eight abstentions, was introduced by city councillor and rider Anthony Perruzza with support from the Rider Training Institute, a not-for-profit riding school.