Four US state legislatures have introduced bills to allow lanesplitting by motorcyclists.
For now, California is the only US state that permits lanesplitting by motorcyclists, and no Canadian province allows it. Over the past few years, there have been several attempts by various state legislatures to legalize the practice elsewhere, but so far, none of those have passed.
Even lanesplitting (some call it “filtering”) was practiced it California for years, it really only gained legal protection last summer in California, and even then, the legal language wasn’t that helpful.
Now, politicians in the states of Texas, Washington (State Rep. Drew MacEwen), Oregon (State Senator Jeff Kruse ), and Montana (State Sen. Russel Tempel) have all introduced bills that, if passed, would allow lane-splitting in their respective jurisdictions.
The bills are all somewhat similar; according to the AMA’s press release, the Washington bill would “allow riders to split lanes at a speed of no more than 10 mph faster than other vehicles, if traffic is moving slower than 35 mph.”
The Oregon bill would “allow riders to split lanes at a speed of no more than 20 mph, if traffic is stopped or has slowed to a speed of 10 mph or less on certain roadways.”
The Montana bill would “allow riders to split lanes at a speed of no more than 20 mph, if traffic is moving slower than 10 mph.”
It’s no surprise these bills originate in northwestern states; Oregon and Washington have both seen attempts at lanesplitting bills before, and Montana is kind of a freedom/open-range sort of place too. What is surprising is that we’re seeing all three at the same time, and that they follow so quickly after recent attempts to legalize lanesplitting were shut down in these states. We went for years without seeing any real action on the fight for lanesplitting; maybe the win in California last summer is the impetus to finally get things rolling on a bigger scale.
But what about Canada? For now, don’t get your hopes up. But if these laws pass, then at least we’ll have data to present to the provincial transportation authorities, showing lanesplitting is safe. That’s where the conversation will have to start.