Is it possible the motorcycle lane filtering legalization dominos are starting to fall?  Now, Oregon Senate Bill 574 aims to allow lane filtering.  And it’s gaining speed with proponents and the legislature.  If approved, the bill will allow motorcyclists to move back and forth between very slow-moving traffic on Oregon’s multi-lane highways.

While similar legislation has been a topic of discussion since 2015, this time it’s different.  There are clearer definitions of when lane filtering is legal.  Under the Bill, traffic must either be stopped or moving less than ten miles per hour for lane filtering to be permissible.

In particular, lane filtering would be legal under the following conditions:

In situations where traffic is either stopped or has slowed to a speed of 10 miles per hour or less, a person operating a two-wheeled motorcycle may pass the stopped or slowed vehicle under the following conditions: they travel no more than 10 miles per hour above the speed of traffic; they do not impede normal movement of traffic; and they merge with regular traffic flow once the speed of traffic exceeds 10 miles per hour.

The exemption applies only on interstate highways or roads with designated speed of 50 miles per hour or higher
with two or more lanes in a single direction, and does not apply in certain school zones. The measure also does
not permit operating a motorcycle on the road shoulder (to the right of the far right lane), or on the center line (to
the left of the left-most lane)

This time around, there are advocates on both sides of the political spectrum.  And, the Governor’s Motorcycle Safety Advisory Committee has withdrawn its opposition to the Bill, paving the way for more positive action.

Lane filtering benefits

The Bill’s proponents point to three benefits they say motorcycle lane filtering would promote:

  • Reduced congestion
  • Reduced emissions
  • Enhanced rider safety

While some might argue that lane filtering does not increase rider safety, several studies say that it does.  A University of California at Berkeley study found the following about lane-splitting motorcyclists:

 Of the almost 6,000 collision-involved motorcyclists we studied, nearly 1,000 were lane-splitting at the time of their
collision. When we compared motorcyclists who were lane-splitting with those who were not, we could see that the lane-splitting riders were notably different.

Compared with other motorcyclists, lane-splitting motorcyclists were more often riding on weekdays and during commute hours, were using better helmets, and were traveling at lower speeds.

Lane-splitting riders were also less likely to have been using alcohol and less likely to have been carrying a
passenger. Lane-splitting motorcyclists were much less often injured during their collisions.

They were considerably less likely to suffer head injury, torso injury, extremity injury, and fatal injury than riders who were not lane-splitting.

If you would like to see the text of Oregon Bill 574, you can find it here.

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