The Oregon State Senate has passed a proposal to make lane-splitting legal in the state. The only problem is the amendment has been diluted so much in the legislative process that it’s eliminate one of the biggest safety advantages to motorcyclists.
As expected, SB 694 takes an overly cautious approach to lane-splitting, only allowing motorcyclists to filter between cars on highways where the speed limit is 50 MPH or faster and only when traffic is moving at 10 MPH or less. That’s fine, as is the text stating that:
The motorcycle operator or moped operator is driving in a cautious and prudent manner and is traveling at a speed of 20 miles per hour or less.
But here’s where it falls apart.
Lane-splitting isn’t just about getting through traffic. It’s about avoiding crashes. Specifically, getting rear-ended.
Few things strike fear into the hearts of riders more than the sound of screeching tires coming up from behind when stopped at a traffic light. It’s one of the reasons California allows riders to filter to the front of intersections when there’s a red light, and it’s something that even the CHP cites as one of the main safety benefits of lane-splitting.
According to NHTSA, around one-third of all crashes in the U.S. are a rear-end collision. Lane-splitting helps riders avoid the chances of serious injuries in town, and by not allowing motorcyclist’s to move up to the front of an intersection – as well as prohibiting all lane-splitting in cities – Oregon’s legislators are just the latest lot to prove they’re utterly clueless when it comes to motorcycle safety.
There’s a chance of the law being amended before signed into law, but since it’s already been approved by the State Senate, don’t count on it.
Photo: Kevin Costain/Flickr