Arizona is the most recent state to introduce legislation that would make lane-splitting legal for motorcycle riders.
The Phoenix New Times is reporting that Arizona State Senator David Farnsworth introduced SB 1007, which eliminates wording that currently prohibits motorcycle riders from sharing the lanes with automobiles. Additionally, it includes provisions for guidelines for regulating the practice.
Farnsworth told the New Times he introduced the bill because his constituents asked him to, but his statements reflect that he’s not convinced it’s necessary. As he explained to the New Times: “I honestly wonder whether it's safe. But I also think, man, what a practical thing for the motorcycle rider, because he's going to get there a lot faster than I will."
Lane-splitting has been an accepted practice in California for decades, but it was only outlined as lawful last year. Prior to that, it was simply not made illegal and was therefore permitted. Oregon has its own legislation in the works, but it has yet to make it through the legal system.
Outside the United States, lane-splitting is a normal and safe practice. However, many of those places have different motorcycle cultures, where both riders and drivers are more aware and less entitled.
Inside the US, the lane-splitting tide is changing for the better. A bill was introduced in Oregon back in 2015 and, after not passing, re-introduced in 2017 as SB 385 with further restrictions on when a rider could split lanes. A similar bill was introduced in Washington State (SB 5378) at the beginning of 2017, though it’s still in committee.
While other states push forward legislature that would allow the practice, the California Office of Traffic Safety conducted a study that said public support toward the practice was waning. As reported by Santa Cruz Sentinel, roughly two-thirds of Californians dislike the practice. The biggest reason stated was that motorcyclists startled or scared drivers when passing in between lanes.
On one hand, having another state or two make the practice of lane-splitting legal would then not only cement our own ability to lane-split, but provide more reasons for people to ride. On the other hand, California’s lane-splitting provisions are not widely loved and it’s hard to feel confident when we’re just one or two egregious examples of lane-splitting gone wrong to put that in jeopardy.
Ride safe, and realize you represent us all when you’re on the road.