As a motorcyclists in California, we honestly don’t understand how the other 49 states get along without having lane splitting laws on the books, yet that is the case (for now at least). Although recently Texas and Arizona declined to adopt such provisions for their own motorcyclists, our cousins to the north in Oregon are contemplating allowing lane splitting.

Holding an open forum at 6:30 PM tonight in Portland, the Oregon Governor’s Advisory Committee for Motorcycle Safety is considering a recommendation for a lane splitting provision be included in the Oregonian Traffic Code, if public sentiment at the open forum favors such a move.

Lane splitting, when done prudently, benefits motorcyclists in a variety of ways, most prominently by allowing air-cooled motorcycles not to overheat (even liquid-cooled bikes don’t last long sitting in traffic), as well as increasing the overall flow of traffic, and arguably increasing rider safety by allowing a motorcyclists to position themselves alongside an automobile (something drivers are more likely to see than a motorcyclist) while moving in slow traffic.

Riders of Oregon get out and rock the vote  by attending this forum (and see what you can do on this whole not pumping your own gas thing when in your car…it’s just ridiculous).

Source: About Motorcycles; Photo: Travel Salem / Creative Commons – Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic

  • duke

    “arguably increasing rider safety by allowing a motorcyclists to position themselves alongside an automobile (something drivers are more likely to see than a motorcyclist) while moving in slow traffic.”

    Not sure that should be used as argument as in the UK we can split lanes or filter as we call it and you’ll still get a cage not looking to either side and then taking you out.
    But you should defo be allowed to do it, otherwise you might as well take a car if you can’t cut through traffic when it’s chocker busy.

  • Johndo

    In some cities, car drivers would open their doors on you, just out of frustration of seeing you go by them while they’re stuck in traffic. I personally wouldn’t do lane splitting even if it was allowed…

  • Take a look over Pipeburn site. They have a poll about this with comment from all around the globe.

    In Spain, filtering is forbidden theorically but allowed in some cities. Doing it with slow traffic or at traffic lights with cars stopped is safe and you can save a lot of time.

  • Jeff

    I have always been shocked that California is the only state that allows this. For being such a nanny socialist state that is saying a lot. I agree with the above, I don’t think safety is much of an argument here. I live in Washington state and wouldn’t mind lane splitting being allowed under 20mph or something like that. Just sitting in traffic is such a waste!

  • Pat

    I don’t understand why people continue to spread rumors that people open their doors or toss things out at you if you split lanes. My brother’s wife’s cousin said the same thing happened to his friend, but if you think it through, who really wants to get their door ripped off their car and possibly be indicted for manslaughter just for a grin? It’s not like you will stop, pick your bike back up, and ride off. You will sue the shit out of that person and they cannot defend an action like that. Someone COULD do this, but no one does. There is a big difference between having a door opened on you while splitting lanes, and riding too close to a parked car while someone is getting out.

  • Allan Engel

    I lived and rode in southern California for 20+ years. I have always split lanes; I can not think of a single incident where I was surprised by a driver or felt “this was a close call.” Little is more frightening then being in heavy traffic behind an automobile or truck and having the traffic come to a sudden screeching halt praying the idot on your rear fender won’t squashyou. I now live in Colorado where most riders do not wear helmets – talk about dumb.

  • Victor Pritzker

    I also lived and rode (and shared lanes) in CA for over 25 years. I now live in OR, but ride to CA at least 5 times a year, and am relieved to be able to use my bike at it’s full potential in traffic, once back there. CA does not have any laws “allowing” lane sharing, but is wise enough to not have any laws that out-law the practice.
    My experience is that most drivers, at least in Northern CA, where I spend the most time, are not only aware of this practice, but generally try to make room to allow bikes to pass. This courtesy is of course not always the case, but it happens often enough to be common.
    Up until recently it was not an issue in OR, but over time traffic has increased to the point where it has become necessary. I hope the powers that be will allow this safe practice.
    Practiced safely, lane sharing does not interfere in any way with car or truck traffic, but allows bikes, which have the advantage of a very narrow profile to filter safely through slow traffic and continue on even if traffic is at a standstill. That is one of the serious advantages of these machines in terms of handling traffic.
    In places where it is allowed, in EU and the CA, it is a common sight to see what appears to be two or three “extra lanes” of traffic, moving incrementally faster than the traffic in the car lanes. There is no evidence that this is an unsafe practice, and there is no reason to ban it, other than ignorance and prejudice.
    Banning it because some (Mythic)car driver might do something stupid is irrational.
    There certainly are some unsafe car drivers, and motorcycle riders, and they should be dealt with. But that has nothing to do with this safe and useful practice.

  • RobG

    I’m ready to start slapping people who make the “open a door on you” remark. That’s just idiotic. All it would take is one, and the publicity from it would scare the daylights out of anybody attempting it again, because it’d likely kill the rider. And if that didn’t, the rider would likely take out the motorist for doing it.

    I really wish I had known about this with enough time to be at that meeting, I swear I would have been there. I have been writing to the governor and my own local reps for the past five months to get them to legalize lane splitting.

    I do hope they legalize it in a way similar to California. I saw a draft of a law from 2007 that was pretty limiting — it said you could split when traffic was going under 10 mph and you couldn’t exceed 30 mph, and there was no mention of filtering. IMO, filtering is every bit as important as splitting on the freeway.

  • The November 19 Oregon Governor’s Advisory Committee for Motorcycle Safety meeting went ahead as planned and drew record attendance on this sensitive subject. An account of one attendee’s perception of the proceedings can be read at

  • TomC

    I split lanes in Massachusetts when the coast is clear, but I’ve had a door opened in front of me (10 mph), had the lane squeezed by two cars so not to let me through, and another driver pull up on my right while I was in my lane trying to push me out of it. I guess he didn’t appreciate me getting by earlier in my commute. If I don’t take advantage of my bike, might as well take my car.

    As hard as that is to believe, in this state of drivers known for their courtesy.

  • ML

    I live in California and visit my family up in Oregon every year. I have to admit the traffic up in Oregon is getting worse and worse. Its pretty much as bad as Southern California and worse in some places.

    I own an air cooled bike (Monster 696) and it’s such a bitch to sit in traffic watching my temp gauge rise higher and higher and I can’t do anything about it because I’m stuck in traffic. In California, even on hot days, splitting lanes helps keep my bike, and my nutsack, running cooler.

    The best part of lane sharing is that, even though the traffic is at a stand still, I can always get home at a consistent time on my bike. Makes for a great incentive to commute on a motorcycle. In my car, my commute home lasts about an hour to an hour and fifteen minutes. On my bike, I average thirty to thirty five minutes, regardless of the traffic.

    As for safety, I’ve never had an incident sharing lanes (knock on wood). In fact, most people down here will move out of the way. There are the occasional a-holes who’ll move over to block you but I can always pass them on the other side. I still believe most Californian drivers are not aware motorcycles are allowed to share lanes–let alone ride in the carpool lane. I think its the lack of knowledge on this subject that causes drivers to get upset.

    At intersections, some people will honk at you and give you a dirty look because they think you’re ‘cheating’. I just tell them to read the drivers handbook and look up lane sharing. I had one experience where an elderly lady was irate that I was next to her at an intersection. She rolled down her window and started yelling. I couldn’t make out what she was saying, but she was clearly pissed. As we’re waiting for the light, a police motorcycle split lanes up to the other side of her car. She rolled down her window and started yelling to the police officer while pointing towards my direction. The cop looked over at me, smiled and waved as he rode off. The look on her face was priceless.

    Anyway, I hope Oregon allows this as I can’t wait to ride up there and not be stuck with all the cars. And I know all of the riders up in Oregon will love it as well. I hope this trend catches on in other states as well.

  • Tom

    As someone who lives in Japan, I cannot imagine riding anywhere where this practice is not allowed. Now, if only we could get the “motorcycle has to stop at a red light but may proceed if there is no cross traffic” law in Tennessee, this would be great!

  • Dmitry

    Even though it’s not legal in NY, I lane-split very often. Most people are courteous enough to let you pass by making room for you. There are occasional jerks who would drive out in front of you sometimes, but in some cases others are still nice enough to move even further away from them to make enough room for me, or for me to pass these jerks on the other side. In one case the guy who drive out in front of me clearly realized that I would stop right next to him and things could escalate, so he quickly got out of my way once he realized that.

  • Faster1

    I was temporarily (4 years) relocated from California to New Jersey and as one who had the good life taken away, I actually gave up the riding while in Jersey. I have been riding for almost 30 years and if I couldn’t split anymore, I simply wouldn’t ride any more. Spoiled?,, maybe,, but sitting in sweltering heat in a full faced helmet and proper protective gear with no circulating air is nothing short of torture. If all major populated areas really want to ease traffic congestion they should all allow splitting. Some of us would be back in a care full time if we couldn’t split.
    That said, hear in California there are who abuse the privilege and make us all look bad when they double traffic flow at upwards of 60mph between cars. Those are the jerks who usually, justifiably meet an ugly demise. I was actually passed (while I was splitting on my bike) by said nut case, who I soon witnessed bouncing off of a few cars before embarrassingly laying it down. Usually I wouldn’t hesitate coming to the aid of a fallen biker (I have EMT medical training), but this time I joined other motorist grinning from ear to ear as this clown was picking up bike bits from the ground in the ultimate display of humility. Of course, true to character, he eventually took off leaving a few dented cars in his wake. Like many freedoms, some are taken away because of the reckless displays of a few head cases.

  • Random

    I also can’t imagine living in a country or state filtering is not allowed. It’s so common in big cities here in Brazil that almost every cager make room for bikes, even when stopped near traffic lights. Maybe many of them are not happy with it – but it’s dumb, they should be ’cause it’s one less car-like space being occupied on the street.

    That said, there are a few (far away form enough though) bike-only lanes in some city roads. Nothing better than that! Even if the speed limit in those lanes is usually slower it’s so nice to ride in an exclusive lane – where we’re much more safe as cagers have to keep a distance – i just feel they should be everywhere. The space they take in a large avenue is ridiculously small, they should make everyone (bikers, cagers) happy as they improve traffic and avoid accidents.