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Motorcyclists Ride Free On High-Occupancy Toll Lanes

November 06, 2012

View of the I495 Express Lanes

Photo of I-495 Express Lanes in the Washington, D.C., area courtesy of 495 Express Lanes.

As cash-strapped states and cities look for ways to stretch their taxpayer transportation dollars, more and more are turning to High-Occupancy Toll lanes, known as Express Lanes.

The latest to open are the 495 Express Lanes on the Virginia side of the Capital Beltway in the Washington, D.C., area, which are to open Nov. 17. Once open, they will give riders, and drivers, a new option for faster trips on I-495 from about the Springfield Interchange to just past the Dulles Toll Road.

High-Occupancy Toll lanes are essentially High-Occupancy Vehicles lanes but with single-driver vehicles having the option to use the lane for a fee. That is, HOV users are able to continue to use the lane for free.

In the case of the 495 Express Lanes, which eventually will involve 14 miles of lanes, motorcyclists don’t have to pay a toll. And motorcyclists don’t need an E-ZPass to ride the 495 Express Lanes. But if you enter the Express Lanes with an E-ZPass on your motorcycle, the Express Lanes system will detect your motorcycle and won’t charge a toll. For more information, go to

When HOV lanes were created decades ago, motorcycles were banned from them. The AMA fought for, and won, the right for motorcyclists to use them as taxpayers whose funds helped build them.

The AMA continues to work to ensure free motorcycle access to HOV and HOT lanes as jurisdictions consider changing HOV lanes to toll Express Lanes.

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