Hawaiian motorcyclists may be in for special treatment starting in 2019.  Hawaii House Bill 2589 authorized the Hawaii Department of Transportation to designate certain road shoulders as legally rideable.  The bill’s goal was to improve motorcycle safety during times when traffic is congested or stopped.

After many hearings held in early 2018, the bill emerged highly supported.  Only a few parties came out in opposition citing safety concerns.

Although the bill was actually passed in July 2018, Hawaii’s governor, David Ige, had pledged to veto it.  When he failed to do so, the bill became law.  As a result, effective January 1, 2019, the Hawaii Department of Transportation has the capability to designate certain road shoulders for use by two-wheeled vehicles.

But it is not all roses and sunshine yet.  The Hawaii DOT has yet to designate any road shoulders for use by motorcyclists.  DOT spokesman Tim Sakahara said that there is currently no timeline for designating the appropriate roads.  He also said that the process for designating roads was not yet established.

Once the Hawaii Department Of Transportation does designate road shoulder use certain rules will apply.

  1. In order to use shoulders, road traffic must be completely stopped.
  2. Riders will not be permitted to ride more than 10 MPH when using the shoulder.
  3. If traffic starts moving, riders must return to the roadway.
  4. No turns from the shoulder will be permitted.
  5. Riders may not ride against the flow of traffic

With no timeline for designating shoulder use, riders could be in for a long wait.  The law is not a panacea, but it is a start for allowing motorcyclists to gain efficiencies and perhaps ride more safely in certain situations.

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