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Lane Sharing Bill Proposed
Would let motorcycles go between lanes in congested traffic.

This isn't the first time that a lane sharing bill has been put before the legislature. As in previous sessions, this bill has bipartisan support. In an era of tight transportation dollars, solutions to congestion often carry a high price tag. Except this. SB 574 is free.

The practice of "lane sharing" or "lane filtering" refers to how motorcycles can navigate slow or stopped traffic on multi-lane roads. Lane sharing generally refers to a motorcycle passing slower or stopped vehicles by proceeding between the lanes of travel, while lane filtering usually refers to cases where a motorcycle moves back and forth between lanes to pass stopped or slowed vehicles. Both practices are meant to allow motorcycles to continue moving when the general flow of traffic is slowed or stopped, and are meant to prevent overheating of motorcycle engines, rider fatigue, and protect the safety of riders by preventing them from being rear-ended in areas with high levels of traffic congestion.

The basic part of the bill says that

a motorcycle operator does not commit the offense of motorcycle or moped unlawful passing in a lane with a vehicle under the following conditions:

(a) Traffic is stopped or has slowed to a speed of 10 miles per hour or less and
(b) The motorcycle operator:

(A) Operates a motorcycle with two wheels between lanes of traffic traveling in the same direction
(B) Travels at a speed of no more than 10 miles per hour greater than the speed of traffic
(C) Operates in a prudent manner that does not impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic
(D) Overtakes a vehicle that is proceeding in the same direction
(E) Merges with the regular traffic flow when traffic begins traveling at a speed of more than 10 miles per hour and
(F) Is driving on a highway for which the speed limit established...is 50 miles per hour or higher.

Nicholas Harris, the Western States Representative for the American Motorcyclist Association who was very involved with the California effort, AB 51, to formalize and codify lane splitting. The bill passed and was signed into law in 2016, as well as legislation in Utah in 2019, resulting in the passing of HB 149, which also allows lane filtering in certain circumstances, testified on the bill.

"Perhaps one of the more dangerous situations for any on-highway motorcyclist is being caught in congested traffic, where stop-and-go vehicles, distracted and inattentive vehicle operators and environmental conditions pose an increased risk of physical contact with another vehicle or hazard. Even minor contact under such conditions can be disastrous for motorcyclists.

A D V E R T I S E M E N T

A D V E R T I S E M E N T

"The key factor identified in the most recent study on the subject by U.C. Berkeley’s Safe Transportation Research and Education Center, was the speed delta—the difference in speed between the motorcyclist and surrounding traffic. As indicated by the lead researcher, Dr. Thomas Rice, a delta of 15 mph or less, up to a surrounding traffic speed of 50 mph, did not result in any associated changes to injury types or occurrence rates.

"The AMA believes that SB 574, which proposes significantly more conservative limits than the practices identified in the study, is an excellent opportunity for this practice to be introduced in Oregon.

In many countries, lane splitting is considered a normal practice for motorcycle and scooter riders. Particularly in the highly urbanized areas of Europe and Asia, riders are expected to pass between conventional vehicles and advance to the front of the group."

To date, over 600 testimonial letters have been posted as testimony for the committee, nearly all in support. The bill had a hearing on March 2 and is now awaiting a work session to vote it out of committee. It needs to be scheduled by one of the Chairs of the Joint Committee on Transportation, Senator Lee Beyer (D-Eugene) or Representative Susan McLain (D-Hillsboro).


--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-03-14 09:42:30Last Update: 2021-03-14 03:30:06



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