Lane-splitting has always been a polarizing topic in motorcycle circles. Some people think it’s an easy way for bikes to cut through traffic, saving riders invaluable time in their daily commutes. Others, though, aren’t as supportive, arguing that it’s a safety hazard that can lead to accidents. Both sides have points, but on my end, I fully support lane-splitting, provided that it’s done in a non reckless manner.

In the US, California is the only state where lane-splitting is legal. Other states have had discussions of legalizing it, including Washington, but for now, it’s the Golden State and nobody else. Well, Oregon could join that list if state lawmakers decide to pass a couple of bills currently on the docket for 2015. The two Senate bills - Bill 124 and Bill 420 - are both championing the legalization of lane-splitting in the state, albeit in two different manners.

The former, which was introduced State Senator Brian Boquist, would legalize lane-splitting if traffic is at a full stop or is moving less than 10 mph. Riders are also only allowed to split lanes if they’re riding at speeds of 20 mph or less. Meanwhile, the latter, which was authored by Boquist’s senate colleague, Jeff Kruse, is pretty much the same thing, except that the requirements of the traffic and the speed of the rider are a little less restrictive.

Either way, the bills are steps in the right direction for the state because of the
immeasurable benefits it provides in decongesting traffic, saving fuel costs, and protecting riders from being unwitting victims of rear-end collisions.

Another argument, which is being used by everybody championing the legalization of lane-splitting is that if it’s allowed, there’s a reasonable chance that an uptick in motorcycle sales will follow, especially from riders who travel great distances to get their respective destinations.

The two bills are still a ways away from being passed, but let’s hope that legislators from Oregon take the time to understand the benefits of legalizing lane-splitting.

Click "continue reading to read more about Oregon’s plan to legalize lane-splitting.

Why it matters

If you look at it from an objective point of view, the issue of lane-splitting shouldn’t be an issue at all. A lot of riders do it, even in states where it’s illegal. It’s like one of those laws that people know about but choose to skirt anyway because it’s not as stringently enforced as other traffic laws.

So just to clear the decks and rid ourselves of that moral ambiguity to lane-split or not, it’s time for a lot of these US states, and all other countries where lane-splitting is illegal, to take a closer look at this particular set of rules, and try to understand if it’s viable in their respective jurisdictions.

Granted, I’ll be the first to admit that there are some places in the world that absolutely needs lane-splitting laws just to keep the safety of drivers, riders, and passengers when they’re all out on the road. But in places like the US, I think it’s important that all the states that treat lane-splitting as an illegal activity needs to have their own discussions on the matter.

Shout out to Washington and Oregon laying the foundation towards legalizing lane-splitting within their borders. Hopefully, other states catch up on that, sooner than latter.


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