Finally, after years of dithering, Oregon has legalized lanesplitting … errrrr, maybe “lane sharing” is a better way of putting it. SB574 passed a vote in the House of Representatives on May 17, and now it’s just waiting on final signature from the governor.

This has been coming a while. Oregon politicos looked at legalizing motorcycle lane sharing at least four times in the past decade, and each time, the proposed law died somewhere in the political process. The most recent attempt was in 2020; undeterred by its failures, the backers moved forward with SB574 this year. At this point, it’s en route to Governor Kate Brown’s desk, waiting for her signature. Expect that to happen in the next month or two, with the law coming into effect at the start of 2022.

So what does all this do for us?

You can read the bill here, but be warned: It’s the usual jumbled mess of sub-sections and political mumbo-jumbo that you always get with legislation. Here’s what was legalized, according to LaneShareOregon,com:

SB574 would legalize lane sharing under limited conditions:

Highways only:

  • lane-sharing allowed only on roads with a posted speed limit of 50MPH or higher

Traffic on the road:

  • must be stopped, or moving at 10 miles per hour or less

The rider:

  • may travel no more than 10 miles per hour faster than traffic

  • must not impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic

  • must safely merge with traffic, if traffic speed exceeds 10 miles per hour

  • must pass traffic traveling in the same direction

Riders cannot lane share:

  • between a traffic lane and the curb and bicycle lane (on either side)

  • between a traffic lane and a row of parked vehicles (on either side)

  • on the right side of the rightmost lane of traffic, or the left side of the leftmost lane of traffic

  • in a school zone

Riders should also use common sense when lane sharing, and err on the side of caution:  “If you can’t fit, don’t split”.

As you can see, that’s much more restrictive than the wild-west attitude of California, where basically anything goes, as long as you’re not too blatantly stupid in front of the traffic cops. That’s been the case across the US; while lane sharing has been legalized in Utah and Montana (and Hawaii, sort of), it always comes with fairly strict rules. No high-speed blasting between cars on the freeway, that sort of thing.

If you’ve ever lanesplit in California, you’ll know why it’s unfortunate that other jurisdictions restrict lane sharing except in the narrow circumstances. However, this is all progress in the right direction, and it’s probable that changing the country to full California-style mayhem would cause trouble, as car drivers might be slow to adapt.

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