Bicycle lane splitting permitted in Mexico City

Last August, the Federal District of Mexico amended their traffic code with an addition allowing lane-splitting when traffic is congested.

bicycle lane splitting mexico city

Reglamento de Tránsito del Distrito Federal (RTDF) Articulo 19 covers operation of non-motorized vehicles in Mexico City. Article 19 Fracción V generally prohibits lane splitting, but allows cyclists to move forward past stopped traffic. People I know in Mexico City say “in other words, all the time.”

California cyclists currently wheelsuck on the privilege motorcycle riders have to split the lane. California AB-51, which would regulate motorcycle lane-splitting, has the potential to make this common practice unlawful for bicyclists. The motorcycle lobby has been fighting this bill, where it currently languishes in committee. AB-51 has strong support from the CHP, the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS), and the insurance industry, however, and the bill author has amended to the bill to address motorcycle group objections. I’ve mentioned this to both CABO and the CBC asking them to provide their input, but there seems to be little concern that AB-51 would have any impact on bicyclists. Among CABO members (which is the statewide organization that promotes vehicular cycling), there’s been debate on the merits of lane splitting — those who live and bike in heavily urbanized areas generally support the practice, while others believe cyclists should queue up behind a mile of stopped traffic with everybody else because of an obsessively inflexible application of the “same roads, same rights, same rules” mantra.

Waiting for the light

The sausage making process behind AB-51 is interesting in itself and may be instructive in the context of active transportation safety. I might write more on this later, but briefly: CHP and OTS published lane splitting safety guidelines in 2013. The California Office of Administrative Law complained that these could be considered a form of “underground rulemaking” and advised both agencies to remove these lane splitting best practices from their websites. State and local public agencies, however, have never been constrained from publishing pedestrian safety guidelines that nag about “distracted walking” and publishing the long-discredited 85% number in their adult helmet promotion flyers.

The Spanish language flyer comes from Biciescuela MH in the Miguel Hidalgo borough of Mexico City. Via Professor Mathieu Hautefeuille at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México.


  1. there has been a tremendous increase of fatalities in the last few days over negligence and overall bad bad horrible traffic tension, unsure if you have come across some of the many links and graphic/updates or news from the bike community in df

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.