Lanesplitting – and its closely-related cousin filtering – just won’t go away.
After decades that saw California as the only US state that legalized the practice, or at least turned a blind eye, we’re seeing consistent pressure to allow the practice at some level in other states. The big breakthroughs came in Hawaii in 2018 and Utah in 2019, when both states changed their highway safety laws to allow motorcycles to pass between cars in certain situations (Hawaii basically allows motorcycle to filter forward via the shoulder in stopped traffic, Utah allows motorcycles to travel between cars at slow speeds).
In the past few years, there have been quite a few attempts to legalize some measure of filtering or lanesplitting in other states, including Connecticut, Texas, Virginia, Washington, and Montana as well as the Canadian city of Toronto. Those attempts all seem to have stalled last year, but lanesplitting fans won’t give up. Revzilla is reporting that Virginia and now Arizona are both looking at the idea again.
According to Revzilla, the move in Arizona comes from Representative Noel Campbell, chairman of the Arizona House Transportation Committee. Campbell, a former military pilot, should certainly understand safety concerns, particularly the specific concerns of motorcyclists, as he reportedly leads riding tours through Mexico and Central America. He’s basically proposing the same rules as Arizona: lanesplitting would only be legal on roads with at least two lanes in each direction, with a speed limit of no more than 45 mph, and only at speeds of 15 mph or less.
Given Campbell’s role in government and his knowledge of motorcycling, this all sounds very promising.
Virginia’s proposed rule change, proposed by Representative Tony Wilt, is somewhat similar; there, lawmakers are looking at the idea of legalizing lanesplitting on roads with more than one lane in each direction, when traffic has slowed to 10 mph or less. Lanesplitting bikes would be required to keep under 20 mph.
Both these scenarios might not be the wild west attitude that prevails in California, but are a move in the right direction, at least, and far more generous than the wimpy half-measures adopted in Hawaii.