Lane splitting dead for now in Oregon

Lane splitting dead for now in Oregon

Posted by Ben Baker on Jul 5th 2016

Despite a two-thirds majority in the Oregon State Senate and a unanimous vote in the Judiciary Committee, the House of Representatives Transportation Committee killed a lane splitting bill by refusing to allow it out of committee.

Lane splitting is when a motorcycle rides between two rows of vehicles, usually right along the line dividing the lanes. Vehicles can be stopped or moving. The motorcycle moves faster than the surrounding vehicles.

SB 694 was opposed by the Oregon Department of Transportation and some law enforcement agencies across the state. They reasoned lane splitting would be a danger to bikers.

The opposition ignored research from the California Highway Patrol and the University of California, Berkeley. That study says splitting is no more dangerous than regular riding. “What we learned is, if you lane-split in a safe or prudent manner, it is no more dangerous than motorcycling in any other circumstance,” Office of Traffic Safety spokesman Chris Cochran said. “If you are speeding or have a wide speed differential (with other traffic), that is where the fatalities came about.” Cochran was interviewed by the Sacramento Bee.

The Legislature opened with two Senate bills related to lane splitting. SB 420 said splitting was OK when surrounding traffic was going 25 miles an hour or slower and the biker moving no faster than 35 miles per hour. SB 172 allowed lane splitting when traffic was moving no faster than 10 miles per hour and the biker was allowed 20 miles per hour. Both bills allowed lane splitting when traffic was stopped.

A similar proposal, HB 2512, in the House was held in committee. Supporters agreed to throw their weight behind the approved Senate bill.

The final bill that made it out of committee had three Senate sponsors and four House of Representative sponsors.

BikePAC Of Oregon lobbied hard for the bill. It’s expected the rider rights group will try to get the state legislature to approve the bill in the next session.