Washington Lane-Splitting Bill Passes State Senate

03/01/2017 @ 6:47 pm, by Jensen Beeler25 COMMENTS

Legalizing lane-splitting in Washington State just got a step closer to reality, as the State Senate of the Washington State Legislature has passed a bill that would allow lane-splitting under very specific circumstances.  

Senate Bill 5378 (SB 5378) would allow lane-splitting only during slow traffic conditions – up to 10mph faster than the flow of traffic, but no faster than 25 mph – and only on numbered highways that have a median and multiple lanes of traffic in each direction.

The bill passed the senate with 32 “yea” votes from both Republicans and Democrats, while the 17 “nay” votes came solely from Democrat members.

This means that SB 5378 is an interesting lane-splitting effort, and it mimics what we have seen in Oregon, where a lane-splitting bill is currently making its way through the legislature. 

Like in Oregon proposal, SB 5378 would mostly benefit highway riders, though Washington does have multi-lane numbered highways that act more like large city boulevards in certain areas.

It should be noted that SB 5378 would also make it illegal for another motorist to prevent a motorcycle from performing a legal lane-splitting maneuver – an interesting nod towards the passive-aggressive nature of Pacific Northwest drivers.

Now through the State Senate, SB 5378 will head to the Washington House of Representatives. An affirmative vote there would see Washington States as the second state in the United States to formally legalize lane-splitting, which would be a huge win for motorcyclists in winning over other jurisdictions.

Asphalt & Rubber would highly encourage readers who live in Washington to call their representatives, and let them know that you want to see this bill passed.

Source: Washington State Legislature

  • Loud_V8_noises

    Please please please let this happen.

  • major tom

    Noting the nay votes were all democrat and now with the preponderance of republican majority state legislators I wonder if it increases the chance lane splitting will meet with widespread approval. I can only hope Austin is hot boiling in the sun sitting still.

  • It’s still a House controlled by the DNC, but hopefully as we saw in the Senate, a few Democrats join the Republicans on getting this passed.

  • paulus

    yay… common sense prevails. I look forward to visiting and splitting accordingly.

  • Shawn

    When I moved to central Washington state from Canada I was surprised how polite the drivers were. Then I moved to Los Angeles…

  • PeteN95

    Write to your legislators! Let’s get this passed!

  • Ryan Donahue

    This is great news! Oregon; are you listening!?

  • Jack Meoph

    And why exactly are the Dems opposed to this? I would like to hear their reasoning, when there is truly no logical reason for not allowing lane sharing.

  • Jack Meoph

    LA is a completely different beast than any other city for traffic. But thanks to cell phones and law enforcement effort, the actual incidence of violence related to road rage have declined. That doesn’t mean people will stop dive bombing the exits, but you’ll get home without bullet holes in your door.

  • Bruce Steever

    Finally!

  • No.

  • Ryan Donahue

    Well, Oregon does hate fun, speed and America. So it’s only fitting. I mean this is the only place in the country where people willfully drive 45 mph on the interstate.

  • Robert

    What is a ‘slow traffic condition’? Who’s going to look at the speedometer of surrounding traffic? So who will be looking at their speedometer to make sure their speed is not 25 mph faster? BTW, if I pass a patrol car, how will they determine my speed?

  • kencryst

    Knee jerk response… They know that car drivers are complete idiots who don’t use mirrors or signals and so motorcyclists must suffer because cagers suck!

  • Shawn

    That’s nucking futz. I lived on the other side of the Cascade curtain for four years and I didn’t have a single issue. It’s a lot less crowded and the weather is way nicer on that side, so maybe that’s the different. I came from eastern Canada where screwing over others on the road was the regional pastime. I’ve ridden in Portland quite a bit as well, and I’ve always found Portland roads to be filled with dickheads in Priuses. I really like the city though, and the ride down WA14 beside the Columbia was always fantastic.

  • 8 Ball Brian

    The sad part of this, and a really key part, is that now the bill will be referred to Judy Clibborn’s House Transportation Committee. In conversation with her staff yesterday, I was told that lane sharing is not as “urgent” an issue as renaming the freeway bridges over Interstate 5, or whether or not to issue aviation and “Fred Hutch” Cancer Center license plates. The motorcycling community of Washington State needs to be heard. Contact your House Representatives in Olympia. Especially if the are on the House Transportation Committee. If you live in the 41st District (Mercer Island, Renton, Newcastle and Sammamish) contact Judy Clibborn directly and request a hearing on SSB5378. Otherwise it will be just one more of several motorcycle related bills she has let die since January.

  • 8 Ball Brian

    Now we need to get a hearing in the House Transportation Committee. Which unless the Chair, Judy Clibborn gets enough pressure, she won’t. She feels it isn’t an “urgent issue”, so isn’t inclined to hold a hearing. Just like the half dozen or so other motorcycle related bills she has refused to hold a hearing on since January.

  • Brian Lange

    Judy Clibborn has to hold a hearing on it before it can go to a floor vote. That currently isn’t likely to happen after hearing what her staff had to say yesterday.

  • Brian Lange

    The same reason that the WSP says it is “dangerous” even though the CHP who has decades of experience with it says it is a “safe and prudent” practice. It is something new, and not in their experience, so it scares them.

  • mark

    As a semi truck driver, you do not know the number of times I have almost taken out a bike and rider because they were splitting the lane. We don’t leave a lot of room and if we have to move left or right for debris, we take what is left of OUR lane. As the law currently stands, lane splitting is illegal. If I split the lane with my truck to stop people from driving up to the front of an on-ramp (which causes everyone behind them to hit their brakes and creates an even bigger problem), I can be pulled over and the fine is in the region of $1500. Laws apply to everyone.
    If all drivers would just back off a few feet, and people merging would remember, 1 car in between two instead of forcing two cars where one should go, the flow would be better, the jams would be less and we would all be happy. Just my thoughts on it. Keep safe out there, and give the other person a little room. Your day will be a whole lot better for it.

  • Antonio Knoy

    The bill is written that “you may not exceed 25mph while splitting lanes”.

  • Robert

    Ok. Not to exceed 25 mph. Again, how will they know how fast I am traveling. I split lanes all the time in Kalifornia. I’ll split up to 50-60 mph and I get pass by others. BTW, I love splitting behind CHP.

  • slugsgomoo

    Everywhere it’s legal they’ve studied and found it to be safer and reduce fatalities.

    If car drivers would stop puffing on their weed and watching netflix in traffic, we’d probably see a lot fewer collisions…

  • slugsgomoo

    As a motorcyclist, it’s proven that on a divided highway the number one cause of fatalities for me (aside from things I can control like extreme speed and drinking & riding) is being sandwiched by larger vehicles in a rear-ender.

    If the law is changed, lane splitting will be legal, but passive aggressive washingtonians will likely kill a few people trying to keep them from passing, even though they will be legally entitled to that space. Nice to see the provision in there, but I’m not sure how it’d be enforced- My recollection is that if they can prove it was intentional in California, it’s considered attempted vehicular homicide.

    Lane splitting reduces congestion, pollution, and fatalities, and incentivizes riding (and reducing cars on the road, further reducing congestion & pollution)… which is actually a win for everyone.

  • Brian Lange

    Common sense isn’t as common as it used to be. Most riders know not to try splitting between big rigs as busses. As a bus driver for many years, I have also seen some idiots. There will always be idiots, no matter what.