Yet another politician has jumped on the lane-splitting legalization bandwagon in the US, this time in Arizona.
While lane-splitting (or filtering, or lane-sharing) is common throughout most of the civilized world, it’s illegal in almost all of Canada and the US. Only one jurisdiction (California) allows motorcyclists to legally ride between cars on the street; everywhere else, the US and Canadian state and provincial governments say it’s a no-no.
Of course, that’s stupid; whether or not you personally wish to lane-split, it’s an effective traffic strategy for those who choose to use it safely, and studies have even been shown it reduces danger to motorcyclists. It also has the potential to greatly ease traffic congestion.
Thankfully (surprisingly?), a growing number of American politicians are seeing this, and proposing new state laws legalizing the practice. In the past couple years, we’ve seen attempts to legalize lane-splitting in Utah, Oregon, Montana, Washington and Texas (you can read about some of those efforts here).
The latest state politician to try this is Arizona state senator David Farnsworth. He’s proposing Bill SB1007, which would eliminate wording in the state’s traffic laws that prohibit lane-splitting, and call for the state to develop guidelines for the practice.
Alas, Farnsworth doesn’t sound like he’s willing to take a huge stand on this bill, which would come under examination in January. One of his voters asked him to introduce the bill, and interviews with Farnsworth seem to show he’d be more interested in the practice if he was convinced it was safe. And, of course, the state’s highway safety officials oppose the idea, so that might be a hard sell to the rest of Arizona’s lawmakers.
Arizona has looked at lane-splitting before; back in 2010, another politician tried to get the practice approved, but it didn’t happen then, and honestly, it doesn’t look like it will happen now.
However, the fact that the conversation is happening again is very encouraging. After decades of little action on the issue, riders seem to be able to finally bend the ears of their politicians, and with luck, we’ll see the practice soon extend to jurisdictions outside California somewhere. And then, who knows? Maybe we can even talk about bringing the idea to Canada …