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.