Lane-splitting bill introduced in state of Washington

Lane-splitting - it's something we should all be fighting for.

For decades, no Canadian province has allowed motorcycle lane-splitting, and only one US state – California. That might be about to change.

A new bill has been introduced into the US state of Washington’s State Legislature that would allow motorcyclists to lane-split. They’d be restricted to riding 10 mph faster than cars, to a max of 35 mph, but any urban rider knows that would still be hugely beneficial.

But, having the bill introduced doesn’t mean the law has passed; the state of Washington looked at this in the past and turned down the idea. There was a bill introduced in 2005 that proposed allowing lanesplitting, but legislators gave it the thumbs down. More recently, Nevada nixed the idea in 2013.

If the bill does pass, its results will likely be followed very closely by motorcycle safety experts worldwide. It’s often said that North America could never allow lanesplitting, as the general car-driving public wouldn’t be able to handle the traffic flow changes, resulting in more accidents and cases of road rage. Supposedly, the only reason California motorists cope with lane-splitting is that they’re used to it, having seen it in action for decades.

If there isn’t a resulting onslaught of carnage on the streets, it’s quite possible we’ll see a continent-wide groundswell of support for the practice. It’d be nice to see motorcyclist action groups asking for something besides the right to bomb around with loud pipes and no helmets, and lane-splitting is something that benefits riders no matter what style of bike they ride.


  1. I am a resident of Washington state, and hadn’t heard of this initiative. I lived in California thru the ’90s, and lane-splitting (or, “lane-sharing”) worked well, though I’d heard of car drivers enraged that someone could pass them while they were stuck in slow-moving or stopped traffic. Personally, as the owner of an air-cooled bike these days, there’s no way – legal or not – that I’d stand still in gridlocked traffic.

  2. Lane splitting is common in Asia, as well as riding on the side walk, going the wrong way on a one way street and pretty much anything else except riding naked.

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