Lane Splitting Bill Passes Senate in Washington

Bill could be used as an example in other states, moves to House Transportation Committee

Lane-splitting in Bangkok, Thailand
Lane-splitting on Sukhumvit Road, Bangkok, Thailand.Wikimedia Commons

As a rider, if you understand it, you should support safe lane splitting. Safe lane splitting like the type proposed in Lane Splitting Bill 5378 in Washington, that if passed, would allow riders to split lanes up to 25mph with a 10mph maximum differential (more conservative than California's proposed 45mph with 15mph diff.). This bill has been looked at by other States' lawmakers as an example of how to regulate lane splitting safely, and if passed could greatly affect the lawfulness of this practice elsewhere.

Last year, member of the Washington House or Representatives Judy Clibborn refused to bring it up, and refused to hear a house version of the bill. One representative pointed to emotional testimony on what may happen if lane splitting were to cause an accident as his primary reason for previously voting 'nay'. Perhaps an emotional statement from a motorcyclist who has been rear ended at a traffic light would have the opposite effect?

People on the outside tend to think of sport bikes zooming past their windows on the freeway, rather than the guy who just rides up to the front at a red light. The fact is, there are many benefits to enabling lane splitting, and plenty of resources available to show that. One study in Australia showed an approval rate jump from 20% up to 69% after a two-year trial period. This well-known study from UC Berkley points to lower speeds and differentials making lane-splitting a relatively safe practice, with a wealth of research and easily readable charts to back it up. If you do your research, it seems to be obvious.

Many riders are pointing to Washington's bill as an optimal solution and riders in that state need help to make it pass. You don't have to live in Washington to call Judy Clibborn's office at (360) 786-7926 and express your support for safe lane splitting. If you're unsure what to say, THIS RADIO HOST makes his points very well, and could be a useful resource for phrasing.

Hate lane-splitting and want to yell at me? Morgan.Gales@bonniercorp.com