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Bryan's Blog

Oregon Contemplating Allowing Lane Splitting

Friday, November 19, 2010
Oh no! Now even motorcyclists are tree-huggers.
OK, Oregon is a state known for meeting environmental issues head-on and we may hug a tree or two, but it's so sparsely populated and most of its towns are so small there's not a pressing need for lane splitting.
The Governor’s Advisory Committee on Motorcycle Safety of Oregon will convene today to discuss the possibility of conducting a statewide public opinion poll on lane sharing, lane splitting and lane filtering by motorcyclists. The committee would like to hear from motorcyclists, motorists, commercial vehicle drivers and other road users about whether or not to conduct the survey. The meeting will be held tonight at the Kaiser Permanente Town Hall Ballroom in Portland.

The press release on the meeting issued by Oregon’s Department of Transportation (ODOT) defines lane sharing, splitting and filtering as thus:

“ Lane sharing is when a motorcyclist travels through lanes of stopped or slower moving vehicles.”

“Lane splitting is when a motorcyclist passes between lanes of traffic in motion.”

“Lane filtering is when a motorcyclist passes between lanes of stationary traffic.”

ODOT cited a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and congestion as possible benefits of allowing the practice in the state.

Being a resident of Oregon, the only places I can see the practice of lane splitting being beneficial is the Portland metro area and maybe Salem. Otherwise, towns are small or rural enough that it isn’t really necessary. In fact, I’d almost be afraid to do it in the town where I live. There are too many old people whose driving already scares me to death. They don’t pay enough attention as it is. And there would be an adjustment period for people to acclimate to the practice that would almost certainly result in casualties.

This coming from a rider who admittedly takes advantage of lane splitting laws when I ride in LA or the Bay Area. But drivers there are accustomed to motorcycles whizzing by in gridlock. And if you’ve ever been stuck in San Bernardino on a blistering summer day with the heat of an air-cooled V-Twin roasting your thighs, you’d do it too. So I’m not against the practice. I just don’t think enacting it in my home state is necessary. Its enactment would benefit a very limited area of the state and it’d only make the cronies here vindictive.

Here’s the function of the Governor’s Advisory Committee according to the ODOT press release:

The Governor appoints members representing all areas of the state to the Governor’s Advisory Committee on Motorcycle Safety. The committee is charged with the responsibility to advise the Governor and the ODOT’s Transportation Safety Division regarding motorcycle safety. The committee reviews, proposes, and makes recommendations concerning motorcycle-related legislation as well as serving as a public forum for motorcyclists and promoting motorcycle safety to the public.

Meetings of the Governor’s Advisory Committee on Motorcycle Safety are open to the public.
Post Tags: Governer's Advisory Committee on Motorcycle Safety, motorcycle lane splitting, lane splitting, lane splitting in Oregon
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Lars -drama, ha November 23, 2010 06:58 PM
Thats it, just wanted to hear my voice;)
I only meant to say your ignorance shows when you say it would only help in congested areas. Every stop light is a congested area, and a great time to get killed in a rear end accident. I would rather be bumped on merged onto from the side rather than rear ended at a red light.
Bob -If I lived in Oregon, I'd say yes. November 22, 2010 12:19 PM
Having traveled through Oregon several times, I can agree that there are not a whole lot of towns that would benefit. But the fact is that there are some that would. Bend, Medford and Eurgene could also use it. Is congestion a huge problem like it is in Houston, Dallas, San Antonio or any other 3 million+ metropolis? No. But there are always instances in every town of all sizes across the USA whe traffic comes to a griding halt for an unspecified time due to accidents or construction.

Because of that, I'm all for filtering in parking lot traffic that goes on for miles. As was noted, bikes can't handle it, air or liquid cooled. We can get to the front and get around the narrow openings left by emergency personnel.

As for splitting. I'd make it legal when traffic is moving below 10 mph or so. No need to split at 70.

As for any of it being dangerous, that's bollox. Here's the proof that it's safer than sitting in traffic.

Imagine miles and miles of traffic going only 1 or 2 mph. You come to a complete stop, move up a car length, come to a complete stop, move up a car length, over and over for an hour. It's bumper to bumper and the next time you stop your bike, the car behind you nails your back wheel because they are not noticing your brake light anymore. They're just going through the stop/start motions in a lazy frame of mind as everyone is tired and frustrated. Now there I am in an accident of my own because my tire is busted, rim bent and my final drive and shaft drive have been pushed through my tranny case. (Sounds like I own a BMW, doesn't it?) Now traffic is backed up more because I'm not moving my vehicle until the cops see it and a tow truck picks it up. One lane shut down now. One biker without a ride now too. Luckily, it was a slow hit and I'm alright or the ambulance would have to find it's way through and they'd block another lane.

This could easily happen in a small town too where there's construction or an accident. I've been through thousands of small towns and seen hundreds of them come to a griding halt too. It happens.
Paul Nagy -Creator, FreeThought Motorcyclists (a facebook group) November 22, 2010 10:42 AM
Bryan, are you saying that Oregonians are unable to adapt? Are you in agreement with Team Oregon Motorcycle Safety that Oregon-motorcyclists are similar to "special-ed students", in that the training program used in 48 states is not good enough for Oregon riders?
R34 -RE: bryan harley - save the drama Lars November 22, 2010 09:33 AM
Don't get worked up on him...just another troll. There always has to be one. Ride on brotha.
bryan harley -save the drama Lars November 22, 2010 08:42 AM
I wrote the article and brought it to your attention, Lars, so I am not ignorant about the practice. I stated my opinion, which I'm entitled to, just like you did.

It's a dangerous practice. If you're too ignorant to admit that, it's not my problem. And I stand by my position. Traffic in Oregon isn't so bad that you can't wait your a** in line at a stop light to wait until it turns green. The only areas where it would benefit is the Portland/Salem areas because traffic congestion isn't that bad anywhere else in the state. Why waste my money as a taxpayer in the state on a study that primarily benefits such a small portion of the state.

And where did I say anything about driver's education? If you don't live here and ride here daily, then you're just one of those people who likes to spout off to hear the sound of their own voice.

It's a beneficial practice in big cities, but I also see the privilege abused all the time in SoCal. If it's done responsibly, I have no problems with it and do it myself, but I can at least see the flip-side, too.
Lars -In favor November 22, 2010 04:33 AM
Mr. Harley shows a complete ignorance to the issue and should not be writing for motousa. California drivers are comfortable with lane splitting because of exposure not due to drivers education. the same would happen if it was adopted in Oregon.
Rich Budelier -Adams and Main November 21, 2010 04:50 PM
I am surprised at Mr. Harley's take on this issue. If any state considers allowing lane splitting then they should get the motorcycle communities' support. As I have said before, the ONLY real advantage a motorcycle has is it's ability to thread through slow or stopped traffic. I wish the NHTSA would encourage the states to consider lane splitting, of anything, for the safety of the riders.
Dan - SO. Oregon -In Favor November 21, 2010 10:08 AM
I lived in So. Cal years ago annd lane split all the time. I now live in So. Oregon and would not get much chance to use it here, but it should still be legal. We do get stopped traffic here and its frustrating not being able to move through the traffic.
Richard Witt -Cajon Cruiser November 21, 2010 09:22 AM
Having been in CA now for ten years after spending my early years in East Coast traffic the pro's outweight the con's. I believe it should be part of the "Ride to Survive" doctrine. It is an essential tool when you are looking out for yourself on the highway. Should you blaze between cars at 70...no, should you be able to move safely through standing traffic, etc. at a reasonable speed, absolutely.
gene -lane splitting November 20, 2010 04:38 PM
excellent idea, just returned from a month traveling in spain and everyone does it there.. will take a period of adjustment for the "door-slammers" to be accustomed to it.
JC -Entire Lower 48 November 20, 2010 02:46 PM
Sharing, splitting and filtering should be legal everywhere. Make it a satndard practice across the country and there would not be the issue of drivers being unaware (barring the adjustment period). Motorists will object because they get irritated, but that's not a legitimate reason. The practice cuts down on congestion and lowers exhaust emissions. Perhaps more motorists would be convinced to switch to a bike if it were legal. This would only create more positive effects - easier parking, less wear-and-tear on roads, etc. It's win-win-win across the board.
bikerrandy -lane splitting in Oregon November 20, 2010 11:48 AM
I used to live in Portland/Vancouver, then the Sacramento area. Lane splitting isn't just for city roads. I use it mostly on freeways all backed up and hardly(if any) moving. I don't care what State I'm in, I'll lane split rather than fry my air cooled bike motor. Even water cooled MCs aren't capable of just sitting, running, like cars can without any motor issues.

If this discussion is left up to all drivers I expect the car/truck drivers to protest, if for no other reason than they can't do it too and get jealous.

I now live in a state w/o legal lane splitting, but since I'm not in a big city it's not so big a deal as in crowded corridors. Like Europe, I think lane splitting should be allowed nationwide.

I recently saw this subject performed in Taiwan, and let me tell you, the way they(mostly scooters) filter over there is CRAZY !! They make what the few of us do in the US look cautious. 8 ^ 0
Bill -In favor November 19, 2010 08:10 PM
Just because small towns don't see the need for lane splitting, those of us in Portland would welcome it. Gridlock is a fact of life and the advantage of lane splitting would probably increase the number of motorcyclist, which would lead to more motorcycle awareness. Just my two cents.
Bart MCUSA -All in favor say... November 19, 2010 02:33 PM
Aye! Every time I pull up to a red light and see those gigantic gaping holes in between traffic lanes it's awful hard not to lane split. I think drivers will adapt fairly quick. Even if they don't, I'd still like the option of lane-splitting.