Oregon Looking at Two Possible Lane-Splitting Bills

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The great State of Oregon, my newfound home, now has two lane-splitting laws on the docket for 2015. Senate Bill 172, introduced by State Senator Brian Boquist (R-Dallas), would permit motorcycle and moped riders to pass in a lane with traffic, if that traffic is stopped or has slowed to less than 10 mph, and the lane-splitting rider is traveling at a speed of 20 mph or less.

Meanwhile Senate Bill 420, introduced by State Senator Jeff Kruse (R-Roseburg), is a little less restrictive in its provisions, and would allow lane-splitting if traffic is stopped or slowed to 25 mph or less, and the motorcyclist is traveling at 35 mph or slower.

Both laws are more restrictive than the guidelines put forward by the California Highway Patrol (California being the only state in the USA that permits motorcycles to lane-split), but would be a start in the right direction for The Beaver State.

The California Highway Patrol has gone on to report that a study done in conjunction with the University of California, Berkeley has shown that when done safely, i.e. using the CHP’s lane-splitting guidelines, lane-splitting is no more dangerous than riding a motorcycle in general.

Lane-splitting also adds the benefit of decongesting traffic on roadways, protecting riders from rear-end collisions, and saving costs on wasted fuel by idling vehicles.

For the motorcycle industry, pro lane-splitting legislation could cause an influx of commuters to purchasing motorcycles, as a means to avoid traffic during rush hour times — adding not only to the influence of the motorcycling community, but also added revenues.

While riders should support the efforts to legalize lane-splitting in Oregon, the only downside to the proposed laws is that they could create confusion for multi-state riders, who cross from California and enter Oregon, and thus would have substantially different laws regulating their lane-splitting actions (this issue is compounded if recent efforts to legalize lane-splitting in Washington are successful).

Ideally, Oregon would adopt a law that is similar to the CHP’s guidelines or Washington’s proposed measures, making for a unified code of lane-splitting conduct on the West Coast.

If only the American Motorcyclist Association would draft a sample law for legislatures to use and build upon, rather than simply publishing press releases that echo their support of lane-splitting laws (as long as they don’t come attached with helmet-wearing requirements, of course).

In the meantime, we highly encourage all Oregonian riders to contact the State Legislature, and urge them to support these bills.

Source: SB 172 & SB 420